Role of the European Commission

Digital single market strategy

The foundation of European economic integration is an internal market, understood as an area without internal frontiers where free movement of goods, services, persons and capital and payment are assured.141 The digitalisation of the economic processes has an obvious and transforming impact on how the internal market functions. Being aware of the challenges brought by the digital economy, the European Commission adopted ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’.142 A notion of the digital single market covers internal/singlc market where

Al, Robotics and ‘Autonomous’ Systems (Brussels 2018) news/ethics-artificial-intelligence-statement-ege-released-2018-apr-24_en accessed 22 July 2020. Examples of international efforts: Asilomar Al principles https://futureoflife. org/ai-principles/ Montreal Declaration for Responsible Al draft principles https://www. UNI Global Union Top 10 Principles for Ethical AIhttp://www. IEEE, ‘Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems’ (2017) all accessed 22 July 2020. “

  • 137 The European Commission’s International Dialogue on Bioethics and Ethics in Science and New Technologies brings together the National Ethics Councils of EU Member States and of third countries, to work together on those matters of common concern.
  • 138 Commission, ‘Report on the Safety and Liability Implications of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and Robotics’ COM(2020) 64 final.
  • 139 See accessed 22 July 2020.
  • 140 Commission, COM (2018) 237 final (n 2) 14-17.
  • 141 See, art. 26 TFEU.
  • 142 Commission, ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (Communication) COM (2015)192 final.

EU Policy Making in the Al Field 37 individuals and businesses can access and exercise online activities and where full respect of fair competition, high level of consumer protection and the principle of non-discrimination based on nationality is assured. The initial strategy adopted in 2015 was built on three pillars: improved access to online goods and services; assurance of proper conditions for the development of digital networks and services and maximise growth potential for European Digital Economy.[1] Even if Artificial Intelligence was not explicitly mentioned in the Strategy, various measures were intended for regulating the flow of data or online platforms using algorithms. At the same period, problems related to the development of Al-based technologies were noticed by the European Parliament which made wide-ranging recommendations on civil law rules on robotics and by the European Economic and Social Committee, which issued an opinion on the topic.

In May 2017, the Commission provided a mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy.1 This time, the Commission made a clear reference to the Artificial Intelligence, willing to build its capacities, by strengthening the EU’s scientific and industrial potential in this field. As it was indicated, the EU was expected to take the leading position in the development of Al technologies, platforms, and applications, taking the benefit from the Digital Single Market, which is believed to be Europe’s main asset and indeed a competitive advantage in a global economic play. At the time the Commission did not take any straightforward commitment towards the comprehensive regulation of Al and merely stated that it would continue to monitor challenges and developments in this field.

The fast-growing technological progress and increasing use of Al-based technologies in different sectors of the economy and social life were noticed by the European Council, which at its summit in October 2017 gave a political impulse for launching a proper European initiative on Al, which was believed to be one of the foundations of Digital Europe. Treating it with the sense of urgency, the European Council formally invited the European Commission to draw necessary initiatives which would contribute to building a homogeneous European approach to Artificial Intelligence.

European Commission’s initiatives, which will be briefly outlined in the following paragraph, were complemented by various actions, taken jointly or

individually at the Member States’ level. The Member States build their own, national strategies for Al, which engage governmental, research and industry actors, assuring financing for Al technologies and building sound regulator}' environment many times embedded in ethics.[2]

Apart from operating at the national level, the Member States are engaged in policy making processes taking place at the EU one. On 10 April 2018, 24 Member States and Norway signed a Declaration of cooperation on AL This has been agreed to be an important step towards joining forces in order to build a common European approach towards Al, which would take into account the most pertinent social, economic, ethical and legal issues. The signatories states of this declaration confirmed their will to continue working together to build strong political commitment to ensure that the competitive market for the Al is created with investments proportionate to its economic importance. Also, the inclusive character of the digital transformation of societies was declared. In particular, making access to technologies at all levels should become a priority for member states. The citizens should be given a chance to acquire the competencies needed to actively participate in political and societal levies through the opportunities created by the digitalisation. Declaration also touched the issue of humancentric and values-based Al. The EU’s sustainable approach to technologies should create a competitive edge resting in accordance with the basis of the Union’s values, fundamental rights (set in art. 2 TEU) as well as ethical principles such as accountability and transparency. Finally, states noticed that the transformative technology, including Al-based systems, may raise new ethical and legal dilemma, one of them being a liability for the systems or their deployment. The abovementioned declaration marked a beginning of a strategic dialogue between the Member States and the European Commission, which led towards the adoption of several policy documents designing comprehensive regulator}' approach towards Al. It is worth noticing that among multiple other initiatives the Commission runs an Al Watch portal, which is a platform where the Member States’ initiatives and general uptake and impact of Al in Europe are supposed to be monitored. It is one of the elements of transparency necessary to build trustworthy and ethical regulation around all digital technologies and Al in particular.

  • [1] Ibid 3-4. 2 European Parliament, ‘Resolution of 16.02.2017 with recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics’ 2015/2103(INL); European Economic and Social Committee, ‘Opinion on AI’ INT/806-EESC-2016-05369-00-00-AC-TRA. 3 Communication, ‘The Mid-Term Review on the Implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy. A Connected Digital Single Market for All’ (Communication) COM (2017)228 final. 4 Ibid. 5 European Council meeting (19 October 2017) - Conclusions, EUCO 14/17 http:// 14-2017-INIT/en/pdf accessed 20 July 2020.
  • [2] Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden are Member States which already adopted national Al strategies, either as an autonomous one or as parts of broader strategies of digitalization and digital transformation. In Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovenia Al national strategies were supposed to be adopted in the course of the year 2020. For more detailed country reports, see accessed 20 July 2020. 2 See, accessed 20 July 2020. 3 See, accessed 20 July 2020.
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