In a significant development, France, Germany, and Italy have reached a comprehensive agreement on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), as revealed in a joint paper obtained by Reuters. The agreement, which promotes voluntary but binding commitments for AI providers across the European Union, is poised to expedite negotiations at the European level.
The joint paper emphasizes that the rules of conduct will apply to both small and large AI providers in the European Union, creating a level playing field for innovation and development in the region. The European Commission, the European Parliament, and the EU Council are actively engaged in discussions to determine the bloc’s position on AI regulation.
In June, the European Parliament introduced the “AI Act” with the aim of mitigating the risks associated with AI applications, preventing discriminatory effects, and harnessing the innovative potential of AI. During discussions, the Parliament proposed that the code of conduct should initially be mandatory only for major AI providers, primarily based in the United States.
However, France, Germany, and Italy argue that limiting the applicability of the code to major providers could disadvantage smaller European companies, eroding trust and potentially reducing their customer base. As a result, the three EU governments advocate for making rules of conduct and transparency binding for all AI providers, regardless of size.
While the initial proposal suggests refraining from imposing sanctions, the joint paper outlines the possibility of establishing a system of sanctions if violations of the code of conduct are identified after a certain period. A future European authority would be responsible for monitoring compliance with these standards.
Germany’s Economy Ministry, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Affairs, emphasizes that AI regulation should focus on the application of AI rather than the technology itself. Digital Affairs Minister Volker Wissing highlights the importance of regulating applications to position Europe competitively in the global AI landscape.
“We need to regulate the applications and not the technology if we want to play in the top AI league worldwide,” Wissing stated.
State Secretary for Economic Affairs Franziska Brantner stressed the need to strike a balance between harnessing opportunities and limiting risks, emphasizing the proposal’s ability to navigate the uncharted territory of technology and law.
As governments worldwide strive to capitalize on the economic benefits of AI, the recent agreement marks a crucial step toward establishing unified AI regulations within the European Union. This development will likely be a focal point of discussions during the German government’s digital summit in Jena and talks between the German and Italian governments in Berlin.