The Artificial Intelligence Act, the European attempt to govern the use of AI in the years ahead, has nudged a step closer.

The European Council is made up of EU countries, has approved the so-called Artificial Intelligence Act, which is expected to come into force next month.

The European Union had first started formulating its proposed AI laws back in 2021, and by June 2023 the European Union Parliament had agreed changes to the draft artificial intelligence rules, that would include a ban on the use of AI in biometric surveillance and for generative AI systems to disclose any AI-generated content.

AI Act

Then in December 2023 the European Union had agreed the world’s first comprehensive laws to regulate AI after marathon negotiations of more than 36 hours between the European Parliament and member states.

Germany in January 2024 said it was prepared to approve the AI Act after the German coalition’s Free Democratic Party dropped its objections over red tape.

France, Germany and Italy had apparently campaigned for foundation models to be left to self-regulate, in order to ensure EU companies would not be competitively hampered by excessive red tape, while the European Parliament had argued the technology was too important to be governed by companies on their own initiative.

In March 2024 the European Union Parliament on Wednesday officially approved the Artificial Intelligence Act.

Council approval

Now the European Council has also approved the ground-breaking law.

“The adoption of the AI act is a significant milestone for the European Union,” said Mathieu Michel, Belgian secretary of state for digitisation, administrative simplification, privacy protection, and the building regulation. “This landmark law, the first of its kind in the world, addresses a global technological challenge that also creates opportunities for our societies and economies.”

“With the AI act, Europe emphasises the importance of trust, transparency and accountability when dealing with new technologies while at the same time ensuring this fast-changing technology can flourish and boost European innovation,” said Michel.

After the AI Act is signed by the presidents of the European Parliament and of the Council, the legislative act will be published in the EU’s Official Journal in the coming days and enter into force in twenty days.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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