A Timeline for Europe’s AI Strategy

Last week, the European Commission adopted the Communication on Artificial Intelligence: a 20-page document that lays out the EU’s approach to AI. The communication is characterized by its unique emphasis on ethical AI and aims to: (1) increase the EU’s technological and industrial capacity and AI uptake by the public and private sectors; (2) prepare Europeans for the socioeconomic changes brought about by AI; and (3) ensure that an appropriate ethical and legal framework is in place.

In addition to prior announcements such as the New Skills Agenda for Europe and the General Data Protection Regulation, a number of new investments and initiatives were announced in the communication.

Here is a timeline for when the Commission plans to implement them:

Spring 2018

- The Commission launched a 16-month pilot project in March 2018 to support research in the development of explainable AI. The project will support the creation of policy responses to the challenges brought by automated decision-making, including biases and discrimination.

- The Commission will issue two more communications related to AI: first is on the future of connected and automated mobility; second is on the future of research and innovation ambitions for Europe.

Summer 2018

- By July, the Commission will facilitate the creation and operation of European AI Alliance. It will be a broad multi-stakeholder platform to gather input, exchange views, and develop and implement common measures to encourage the development and use of AI. The Commission will also facilitate interactions of the Alliance with different institutions of the EU.

By the End of 2018

- The Commission aims to develop a coordinated plan on AI with member states in order to “maximize the impact of investments at EU and national levels, encourage synergies and cooperation across the EU, exchange best practices and collectively define the way forward to ensure that the EU as a whole can compete globally.”

- To address ethical concerns, the Commission will work with relevant stakeholders to draft AI ethics guidelines that addresses issues such as privacy, fairness, safety, social inclusion, algorithmic transparency, and consumer protection.

- To support the efforts of Member States, which are responsible for labour and education policies, the Commission in 2018 will: set up retraining programs to help workers at risk of being automated; publish a report addressing the labour market impacts of AI, with policy recommendations; support Digital Opportunity Traineeships in advanced digital skills; and encourage business-education partnerships to attract and retain AI talent.


- To ensure legal clarity, the commission will issue a guidance document on the interpretation of the Product Liability Directive in light of technological developments.

- The Commission will publish a report on the broader implications for, potential gaps in, and orientations for the liability and safety frameworks for AI, Internet of Things, and robotics.

By 2020

- The Commission will increase its investment in AI from €500 million in 2017 to €1.5 billion by the end of 2020. If Member States and the private sector make similar investments, overall investment will increase from €4–5 billion in 2017 to at least €20 billion in 2020.

- To encourage the uptake of AI by small and medium-sized businesses, the Commission will support the development of an “AI-on-demand platform.” This toolbox will provide access to AI resources, such as data repositories, computing power, and algorithms, and will help users integrate AI solutions in their processes, products, and services.

Beyond 2020

- The Commission plans to strengthen Europe’s network of AI research excellence centers; support research in explainable AI; promote advanced digital skills; explore joint innovation procurement for the use and development of AI; and create a center for data sharing.

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Tim Dutton is a master’s candidate at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. He was recently the project manager and lead researcher for the joint RBC-ICC report, All Of Us: What We Mean When We Talk About Inclusion. Follow him on Twitter at @TimDutton_

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