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Euroviews. The fight for the AI Act is a clear case of defending the public good

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her annual speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 2023
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her annual speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 2023 Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
By Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

If an agreement is not reached this week, this will represent a big missed opportunity for Europe and one of the biggest scandals involving the influence of interest groups in the internal affairs of the EU, Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini writes.

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In these hectic days amid the latest negotiations on the EU AI Act, we are shocked by the positions of France, Germany and Italy which, according to our leading experts and the majority of voices in the scientific community, do not reflect the general interest but instead represent non-European interests.

This was clearly and courageously denounced by Commissioner Thierry Breton just a few days ago. 

A large number of institutes such as AI4People and the European Digital SME Alliance — representing 45,000 business members — already advised Europe's leaders to regulate foundation models, denying the rhetoric that regulation is against innovation.

Furthermore, the common good has been exceptionally defended in recent weeks by the European Parliament. 

'Self-regulation' is just non-regulation in disguise

A few days ago, on 2 December, France and Europe marked the third anniversary of the death of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. 

Giscard d'Estaing, or VGE, had the merit of pushing for the creation of the first European Parliament in 1979. His intuition was right: a body elected directly by the citizens would serve their best interests effectively.

I was lucky enough to co-found Atomium-EISMD with VGE and work with him for 14 years. 

In 2018, with the help of Luciano Floridi, we supported the creation of AI4People Institute, intending to shape the debate on AI ethics and prompt European Institutions to act quickly to stem the future of AI risks. 

French President Emmanuel Macron greets former President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing at the Constitutional Council in Paris, October 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron greets former President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing at the Constitutional Council in Paris, October 2018AP Photo/Thomas Samson

That same year, we published the “AI4People's Ethical Framework for a Good AI Society”, which was adopted by the European Commission and led to the workstream of the AI Act.

We see two problems in the current situation: the first concerns a truly effective regulation against a ridiculous proposal of "self-regulation" which means non-regulation of foundation models. 

The second is an issue that goes beyond the AI Act: we are experiencing a brazen attack on our democracy. 

The lobbies cannot and must not influence in such a way the democratic process which envisages a long and high-quality legislative work such as that of the AI Act.

Act as statespeople, not average politicians

We, as AI4People Institute, entirely defend the proposal presented by the European Parliament and in particular the part concerning the regulation of foundation models, which we believe is decisive both to defend the general interest and to guarantee transparent and regulated innovation.

If an agreement is not reached this week, this will represent a big missed opportunity for Europe and one of the biggest scandals involving the influence of interest groups — mainly foreign — in the internal affairs of the EU. 

Again we invite Emmanuel Macron, Giorgia Meloni and Olaf Scholz to act as statespeople and not as average politicians: in short, to serve the general interest of their citizens but also of all Europeans.

Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini serves as President of Atomium — European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy (EISMD). He is also President of the AI4People Institute.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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