The EuropeanAI Newsletter
Covering Artificial Intelligence in Europe

Welcome to the EuropeanAI Newsletter covering the European AI and technology ecosystem. If you want to catch up on the archives, they're available here.

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The Council of the European Union approved the budget for the Digital Europe Programme to the tune of  €7.6bn until 2027. This budget is €1.6bn less than previously suggested and is intended to support areas such as artificial intelligence (at €2.1bn, previously at €2.5bn), HPC (at €2.2bn, previously at €2.7bn) and cybersecurity (at €1.7bn, previously at €2bn).

The European Commission has unveiled its proposal for a Digital Green Certificate making it easier to travel within the EU during the ongoing pandemic. This newsletter covered a relevant Ada Lovelace Institute project analysing the topic of vaccine passports.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) published their Opinion on the Commission’s (EC) proposal for a Digital Markets Act (DMA) (“For a swift, effective and future-proof regulatory intervention”), as well as a Draft Report on the ex ante regulation of digital gatekeepers, noting, in particular, the importance of enforcement procedures.

UNI Europa Finance, Insurance Europe, BIPAR and AMICE (insurance sector employers) have
together adopted a joint declaration on AI wherein they state that they adhere to the Ethics Guidelines of the AI HLEG as relevant and applicable to the insurance sector.

Subsequent to the draft adequacy agreement with Brussels on data standards (see this newsletter)  it would appear that the UK has intentions to move into a slightly different direction than the one of the GDPR. While Oliver Dowden (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) states that the UK intends to ‘maintain those world-class standards’, he equally notes that it will make ‘more of the opportunities’, citing a hampering of innovation due to confusion of and fear over the current rules. It remains unclear from what shape this new direction will exactly take. Oliver Dowden has also announced that the UK will publish a new AI strategy, focussing on growth, resilience and the ethical, safe and trustworthy development of AI. Meanwhile, No.10 is looking for innovation fellows who will be tasked with, among other projects, a handful of controversial proposals of using digital technologies for “Rethinking how to track offenders in the community” and “Using deep reinforcement learning to support planning of military operations”.

Policy, Strategy and Regulation

The European Innovation Council: What does it do? Does it do things? Let's find out.

The European Commission has launched its European Innovation Council for 2021-2027 building on the pilot project it previously undertook during Horizon 2020. It has a budget of over €10bn and current funding opportunities in 2021 of over €1.5bn covering innovations towards the European Green Deal, digital and health technologies as well as along five thematic ‘pathfinder’ challenges: self-aware AI, tools to measure brain activity, cell and gene theory, green hydrogen and engineered living materials. 

If ‘self-aware’ AI made you do a double-take too, in the work programme this specific pathfinder challenge is slightly wild in its description. It refers to an uncited instance where it has been argued that “humans will not accept robots (or chatbots, or decision support systems) as trustable partners if they cannot ascribe some form of awareness and true understanding to them.” It then goes on to say that while awareness and consciousness are conflated in this version, a different model that can account for awareness without consciousness in AI systems (author’s interpretation of the text), and subsequent principles thereof, could make AI systems more resilient, self-developing and human-centric. It’s unclear how this conclusion is reached. Specific conditions for this challenge are: develop new concepts of awareness; “Demonstrate and validate the role and added-value of such an awareness in an aware technology, class of artefacts or services for which the awareness features lead to a truly different quality in terms of, e.g., performance, flexibility, reliability or user-experience”; “Define an integrative approach for awareness engineering, its technological toolbox, the needs and implications and its limits, including ethical and regulatory requirements.” It is really unclear what ‘awareness engineering’ is meant to be and if we truly need this at this point.

Overall, the idea behind the EIC is great and it is definitely advantageous to the EU to boost research on emerging technologies through dedicated funding and an accelerator programme which focuses on supporting SMEs, start-ups and spin out-companies during scaling. Finally, there is also going to be an EIC Transition funding scheme to lower the existing barrier to commercialising research results.

Notes in the margin: I re-read the work programme section on the ‘Awareness Inside’ project several times and I have a lot of difficult reactions. Form your own thoughts (


Digital Day Declarations: All good things come in threes

During the Digital Day 2021, EU Ministers have signed three declarations committing themselves to coordinated efforts: one on reinforcing global connectivity; one on supporting start-ups; and one on a ‘green and digital transformation of the EU’. Plausibly the most interesting declaration for this edition of the newsletter is the one on start-ups which, among other things, paves the way for the setting up of a start-up within a day, for no more than €100 and a commitment to attract and retain talent. On the latter, the suggestion is to process visa applications from founders from third countries/experienced staff within a month and to develop incentives to encourage EU tech-talent that left the EU to return. These are overall promising steps towards tackling a major weakness within the EU (I have previously argued so here).

However, before you get too excited, it should be noted that these declarations are non-binding.

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Contact Charlotte Stix at:

Ben Gilburt  co-wrote this edition.
Risto Uuk provided research support.

Interesting events, numbers or policy developments that should be included? Send an email!

Disclaimer: this newsletter is personal opinion only and does not represent the opinion of any organisation.

Copyright © Charlotte Stix, All rights reserved.
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