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.

Council adopts position on €14.8 billion EU space programme for 2021-2027

On April 19, the Council adopted its first reading position on the proposed regulation establishing the EU space programme for the years 2021 to 2027. This follows up on a deal reached last December with the European Parliament that paves the way for the swift adoption of the draft regulation at second reading.

"The EU relies on space activities as drivers of sustainable economic growth and security. Our new EU space programme will enable us to remain competitive in the New Space economy and to preserve the EU’s space sovereignty. It will boost our economic recovery from the pandemic and our transition towards a green and digital economic model," said Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister for Science and Technology and Higher Education on behalf of the Council.

The new space programme will maximise the socio-economic benefits of Galileo and EGNOS, while contributing to Union’s strategic autonomy, particularly in sensitive sectors and in the area of safety and security, the use of the services provided by EGNOS and Galileo in other Union policies should be promoted also by regulatory means where that is justified and beneficial. Measures to encourage the use of those services in all Member States are also an important part of the process, the Council stated.

The regulation will ensure:

  • high-quality, up-to-date and secure space-related data and services;
  • greater socio-economic benefits from the use of such data and services, such as increased growth and job creation in the EU;
  • enhanced security and autonomy of the EU;
  • a stronger role for the EU as a leading actor in the space sector.

It will achieve this by:

  • simplifying and streamlining the existing EU legal framework on space policy;
  • providing the EU with an adequate space budget to continue and improve on existing space flagship programmes such as EGNOS, Galileo and Copernicus, as well as monitor space hazards under the ‘space situational awareness' component (SSA) and cater for access to secure satellite communications for national authorities (GOVSATCOM);
  • establishing the rules for governance of the EU space programme;
  • standardising the security framework of the space programme.

Next steps

In line with the political agreement reached last December between the co-legislators, the European Parliament is expected to approve the Council’s position at first reading in April 2021. The regulation will then be deemed to have been formally adopted. It will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021.

PSCE and the European Space Agency join forces to support the utilisation of satellite applications for Public Safety

Public Safety Communication Europe (PSCE) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) to support the utilisation of satellite applications for Public Safety.

ESA and PSCE will work together under the new MoI towards establishing interoperable public safety communications systems.
The MoI will support the emergence of space-based applications in the Public Safety domain such as public safety services relying on secure mobile broadband communication solutions. These include applications within disaster preparedness, response and resilience, situational awareness, assessments of damages, navigation-based services for tracking and coordinating rescue forces on-site and for emergency vehicles.

"ESA Space Solutions and the 4S Strategic Programme Line will support through this agreement the emergence of solutions making use of secure satellite communications for institutional Public Safety user communities. This can be achieved as of today through existing satellite telecommunications infrastructures. In the future it will be possible to make use of new and innovative infrastructures with enhanced capabilities. Early pilots and demonstrations will showcase the unique benefits granted by satellites to the user communities and early adopters", says Rita Rinaldo, ESA

"The cooperation with ESA will help to explore complementary solutions that will contribute to cover capability gaps and needs for public safety. It is of extreme importance to improve public safety communication systems with cutting-edge and rapidly deployable solutions that will facilitate PPDR missions", explains Marie-Christine Bonnamour, PSCE.

The cooperation between ESA and PSCE will be activated as a first step through PSCE participation in the ongoing user studies on "Satellite Applications for Public Safety".

PSCE will contribute to the identification of the needs of public safety stakeholders such as emergency services, fire brigades and law enforcement.

You may download the full press release here.

Member States agree on best practices to boost timely deployment of 5G and fibre networks

On 25 March 2021, the Member States, in close cooperation with the Commission, agreed on a Union-wide Connectivity Toolbox, pursuant to the Connectivity Recommendation of 18 September 2020. The Toolbox consists of a set of best practices that are considered as the most efficient in allowing and encouraging operators to roll out very high capacity networks.

The best practices will help network operators to reduce the cost of gigabit broadband deployment and Member States to adopt an efficient approach for ensuring timely and investment-friendly access to 5G spectrum to mobile operators and other users of spectrum, including for industrial applications. 

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal market, said: "In the Digital Decade all Europeans should benefit from fast and secure connections. We must start today turning this ambition into a reality. The Connectivity Toolbox is the result of Member States’ cooperation and commitment to remove obstacles and boost the deployment of very fast networks."

Council adopts conclusions on the EU's cybersecurity strategy

The Council today adopted conclusions on the EU's cybersecurity strategy for the digital decade. This strategy was presented by the Commission and the high representative for foreign affairs in December 2020. It outlines the framework for EU action to protect EU citizens and businesses from cyber threats, promote secure information systems and protect a global, open, free and secure cyberspace.

In its conclusions, the Council highlights a number of areas for action in the coming years, including:

  • the plans to create a network of security operation centres across the EU to monitor and anticipate signals of attacks on networks
  • the definition of a joint cyber unit which would provide clear focus to the EU's cybersecurity crisis management framework
  • its strong commitment to applying and swiftly completing the implementation of the EU 5G toolbox measures and to continuing efforts made to guarantee the security of 5G networks and the development of future network generations
  • the need for a joint effort to accelerate the uptake of key internet security standards, as they are instrumental to increase the overall level of security and openness of the global internet while increasing the competitiveness of the EU industry
  • the need to support the development of strong encryption as a means of protecting fundamental rights and digital security, while at the same time ensuring the ability of law enforcement and judicial authorities to exercise their powers both online and offline
  • increasing the effectiveness and the efficiency of the cyber diplomacy toolbox giving special attention to preventing and countering cyberattacks with systemic effects that might affect supply chains, critical infrastructure and essential services, democratic institutions and processes and undermine economic security
  • the proposal on the possible establishment of a cyber intelligence working group to strengthen EU INTCEN's dedicated capacity in this domain
  • the importance of strengthening cooperation with international organisations and partner countries in order to advance the shared understanding of the cyber threat landscape
  • the proposal to develop an EU external cyber capacity building agenda to increase cyber resilience and capacities worldwide

In order to ensure the development, implementation and monitoring of the proposals presented in the cybersecurity strategy, the Council encourages the Commission and the High Representative to establish a detailed implementation plan. The Council will also monitor the progress in the implementation of the conclusions through an action plan which will be regularly reviewed and updated.