Council adopts new rules to strengthen disaster response

On 10 May, the Council adopted new rules to strengthen the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, following the Parliament’s endorsement on 27 April.  

In light of the impact caused by COVID-19, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism will benefit from an enhanced European response underpinned by the rescEU and faster coordination of disaster response.  

The EU will strengthen the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre — the EU's hub for crisis management — with enhanced operational, analytical, monitoring, information management and communication capabilities. As for prevention and preparedness, the EU is set to define Union-wide resilience goals and scenario plans together with Member States as well as improving disaster loss data collection to support evidence-based scenario building. 

The EU’s Civil Protection improvements will enjoy an additional financial support of €1,26 billion from the Multiannual Financial Framework and another €2,05 billion via the NextGenerationEU. 

survey conducted by the EU revealed that 84% of Europeans agree that coordinated EU action should be increased to respond more effectively to future disasters and crises.  

Parliament approves new space agency based in Prague

The new iteration of the EU Space Programme, adopted April 27, will improve flagship initiatives such as Galileo, Copernicus and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS)

The 2021-2027 EU space programme, adopted by Parliament on Tuesday evening, will fund projects that provide high-quality space-related data as well as services with key socio-economic benefits and potential to create jobs. It also aims to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy, its security and its role in the space sector.

The bulk of the €14.8 billion budget will be allocated to Galileo and EGNOS, the EU's global and regional satellite navigation systems, as well as Copernicus, the EU's Earth Observation programme.

The programme will also finance space security, such as the Space and Situational Awareness (SSA) programme and the new Governmental Satellite Communication initiative (GOVSATCOM) to support border protection, civil protection and humanitarian interventions.

The programme upgrades the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Agency by expanding its tasks and transforming it into the new EU Agency for the Space Programme, based in Prague, Czech Republic.

Civil Protection: Parliament adopts faster EU response to large-scale emergencies

On April 27, the European Parliament adopted a strengthened EU legal framework for civil protection, in response to the unprecedented experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mechanism aims to ensure the EU and its member states will be better prepared to respond to large-scale disasters, especially when these affect several countries simultaneously.

In order to deploy crisis relief more swiftly, the Commission will be able to acquire directly, under specific conditions, the necessary resources via the rescEU reserve.

1.263 billion EUR will be allocated to the Mechanism for 2021-2027, supplemented by 2.056 billion EUR from the EU Recovery Instrument (approximately five times more than the previous seven-year budget).

During the plenary debate on Monday, April 27, MEPs acknowledged the key role the civil protection mechanism played during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its position as a symbol of EU solidarity. They underlined that the adjustments approved in Plenary will bring more flexibility, better coordination and more resources channelled towards tackling future large-scale emergencies.

Commission proposes new rules and actions for excellence and trust in Artificial Intelligence

The Commission proposes today new rules and actions aiming to turn Europe into the global hub for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI). The combination of the first-ever legal framework on AI and a new Coordinated Plan with Member States will guarantee the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses, while strengthening AI uptake, investment and innovation across the EU. New rules on Machinery will complement this approach by adapting safety rules to increase users' trust in the new, versatile generation of products.

“AI is a means, not an end. It has been around for decades but has reached new capacities fueled by computing power. This offers immense potential in areas as diverse as health, transport, energy, agriculture, tourism or cyber security. It also presents a number of risks. Today's proposals aim to strengthen Europe's position as a global hub of excellence in AI from the lab to the market, ensure that AI in Europe respects our values and rules, and harness the potential of AI for industrial use," said Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton.

The new AI regulation will make sure that Europeans can trust what AI has to offer. Proportionate and flexible rules will address the specific risks posed by AI systems and set the highest standard worldwide. The Coordinated Plan outlines the necessary policy changes and investment at Member States level to strengthen Europe's leading position in the development of human-centric, sustainable, secure, inclusive and trustworthy AI.

The European approach to trustworthy AI

The new rules will be applied directly in the same way across all Member States based on a future-proof definition of AI. They follow a risk-based approach:

Unacceptable risk: AI systems considered a clear threat to the safety, livelihoods and rights of people will be banned. This includes AI systems or applications that manipulate human behaviour to circumvent users' free will (e.g. toys using voice assistance encouraging dangerous behaviour of minors) and systems that allow ‘social scoring' by governments.

High-risk: AI systems identified as high-risk include AI technology used in:

  • Critical infrastructures (e.g. transport), that could put the life and health of citizens at risk;
  • Educational or vocational training, that may determine the access to education and professional course of someone's life (e.g. scoring of exams);
  • Safety components of products (e.g. AI application in robot-assisted surgery);
  • Employment, workers management and access to self-employment (e.g. CV-sorting software for recruitment procedures);
  • Essential private and public services (e.g. credit scoring denying citizens opportunity to obtain a loan);
  • Law enforcement that may interfere with people's fundamental rights (e.g. evaluation of the reliability of evidence);
  • Migration, asylum and border control management (e.g. verification of authenticity of travel documents);
  • Administration of justice and democratic processes (e.g. applying the law to a concrete set of facts).

High-risk AI systems will be subject to strict obligations before they can be put on the market:

  • Adequate risk assessment and mitigation systems;
  • High quality of the datasets feeding the system to minimise risks and discriminatory outcomes;
  • Logging of activity to ensure traceability of results;
  • Detailed documentation providing all information necessary on the system and its purpose for authorities to assess its compliance;
  • Clear and adequate information to the user;
  • Appropriate human oversight measures to minimise risk;
  • High level of robustnesssecurity and accuracy.