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EU Policy. Clarity on head of AI Office likely after summer

EU Commission Vice President Margarethe Vestager when presenting the AI Act.
EU Commission Vice President Margarethe Vestager when presenting the AI Act. Copyright European Commission/Aurore Martignoni/ EU/Aurore Martignoni
Copyright European Commission/Aurore Martignoni/ EU/Aurore Martignoni
By Cynthia Kroet
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EU Commission starts recruiting national experts, lawyers for AI Office.

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Clarity on who will lead the AI Office might only come after summer, as internal processes to set up the new unit within the European Commission will first need formal approval by the College of Commissioners, EU officials told Euronews.

The AI office, an internal department within the Commission, will supervise the rules for general-purpose AI systems and function as a central coordination body for AI policy at EU level, coordinating with other departments within the EU executive, its agencies, companies and the 27 Member States.

The AI Act – Europe’s groundbreaking law to regulate the machine learning technology – is set to officially enter into force in June after formal approval by EU ministers this week (21 May). The Commission previously said it will begin looking for candidates after the Act has been published in the Official Journal. 

With the entry into force of the rules, compliance deadlines for companies are also approaching. In November, bans on prohibited practices specified in the AI Act will start to apply. The general-purpose AI rules will apply one year after entry into force, May 2025, and the obligations for high-risk systems in three years.

Lucilla Sioli, Director for AI and Digital Industry within the Commission, and one of the names circulating as contenders for the role of head of office, said at the European Business Summit conference earlier this month (15 May) that the process of setting up the body is ongoing.

“In the next couple of weeks there will be an official communication from the Commission,” Sioli said, explaining that the internal restructuring required sign-off by the college of commissioners. With the EU elections scheduled for 6-9 June, this could face delays.

Lead-lawmaker on the AI Act in the European Parliament, Dragos Tudorache (Romania/Renew), is another mentioned as possible head of office.

Policy officers

The Commission has begun further recruitment for the Office with a call for applications for experts from national administrations, as well as legal, policy and technology experts published this month. The latest recruitment notice said that the national experts will contribute to the implementation of the AI Act - a rulebook which divides AI systems into four main categories according to the potential risk they pose to society.

In February, the EU executive began its recruitment process for policy and technical jobs and said employment could tentatively be expected from this autumn.

Sioli said that the Commission has been recruiting “a significant number of data scientists".

"We received more than 500 applications, and also a lot of young people are interested in these roles," she added.

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