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Europe must set rules for global standards on #ArtificialIntelligence says #EPP

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The EPP Group calls for "high ethical standards", liability rules and transparency for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Furthermore, MEPs want to create a stimulating environment for European Research and Development in Artificial Intelligence.

“Artificial Intelligence plays a crucial role for our economies and democracies. That is why we want Europe to be at the forefront in setting the rules for global standards. We need a human-centric, risk-based and balanced framework for AI with high ethical standards, appropriate liability rules and legal certainty for developers and users,” said Esteban González Pons MEP, vice chairman of the EPP group responsible for legal and home affairs.

Today (19 February), the European Commission will open up the discussion on how to regulate Artificial Intelligence in the EU. Transparency in automated processes is another priority for the EPP Group.

“Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence must be an EU trademark. This is why we need to ensure the highest transparency standards. Algorithms must not be biased, and the decision-making processes within an algorithmic system must be as comprehensible as possible. Therefore, we call on social networks like Facebook, which are challenging our democracies, to make their algorithm transparent,” González Pons added.

“Strengthening Europe's industrial base on Artificial Intelligence is paramount to a trustworthy development of AI. Europe must invest in its technological independence and develop its own infrastructure, 5G strategy, data centres, cloud systems and components. At the same time we should remain open to international partnerships,” said Esther de Lange MEP, vice chairwoman of the EPP group responsible for economy and environment.

The EPP Group sees a special role for Small-and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the development of tomorrow’s growth engines in Europe.

“Let us provide fast-track grants and encourage private investment for innovations, and facilitate access to finance for young entrepreneurs and SMEs through entrepreneurship and innovation programs to unleash the potential of the next generation of Europe’s job creators. We also have to reduce bureaucracy and establish an environment in which it is worth it for businesses to invest in AI research and other future-oriented technologies,” concluded de Lange.

Brexit

'Time is very short' Britain says as EU's Barnier heads to London

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Britain said on Monday (26 October) that time was very short to bridge the significant remaining gaps on key issues in talks with the European Union, as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier heads to London to continue negotiations, write and

The United Kingdom left the European Union in January but the two sides are trying to clinch a deal that would govern nearly a trillion dollars in annual trade before a transition period of informal membership ends on 31 December.

After a brief hiatus when London walked away from the negotiating table, both sides are now meeting daily to try to find common ground.

At stake is the smooth flow of cross-border trade as well as the harder-to-quantify damage that a chaotic exit would do to areas such as security information sharing and research and development cooperation.

“There is much work to be done if we’re going to bridge what are the significant gaps that remain between our positions in the most difficult areas and time is very short,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

Barnier and his EU team will be in London until Wednesday, after which talks will switch to Brussels and continue through the weekend, an EU spokesperson said.

EU diplomats were not expected to be briefed on progress in the latest batch of talks until later in the week.

Johnson told reporters he was very glad to be talking with the EU again, but offered no new clues on the likelihood of a deal: “We’ll see where we go.”

Since talks restarted last week, British ministers have said real progress has been made and that there is a good chance of a deal. On Sunday, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said a deal to avoid tariffs and quotas was likely.

After some progress on competition guarantees including state aid rules, the hardest issue remains fishing - Johnson has insisted on taking back control over Britain’s waters while the EU wants access.

Although Britain insists it can prosper without a deal, British companies are facing a wall of bureaucracy that threatens chaos at the border if they want to sell into the world’s biggest trading bloc when life after Brexit begins on 1 January.

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EU

EU consumers should enjoy a 'right to repair' and enhanced product safety

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MEPs want to endorse a culture of reuse and repair to make consumers more aware of their environmental footprint ©Adobe Stock/Wichan_Shop

The Internal Market Committee has proposed a series of measures to strengthen consumer protection and enhance product safety and sustainability.

In a resolution on sustainable Single Market approved by 20 (2 voted against, 23 abstained), MEPs call on the Commission to grant consumers a “right to repair” by making repairs more appealing, systematic, and cost-efficient.

They also ask the Commission to consider labelling products and services according to their durability (e.g. a usage meter and clear information on the estimated lifespan of a product). This would support second-hand goods markets and promote more sustainable production practices. To reduce electronic waste, MEPs insist again on a common charger system.

To tackle planned obsolescence, restricting practices that intentionally shorten the lifetime of a product should be considered. According to MEPs, the corrective updates for certain digital devices must continue throughout their estimated lifespan and not diminish their performance.

According to Eurobarometer, 77% of EU citizens would rather repair their devices than replace them and 79% think that manufacturers should be required to make it easier to repair digital devices or replace their individual parts.

Adjustments needed everywhere: From advertising to waste management

MEPs also push for more sustainable public procurement as well as responsible marketing and advertising that encourages sustainable business and consumer choices. This should include clear guidelines for products that claim to be environmentally friendly, assisted by further ecolabel certification. For example, when green claims are made in advertisements, common criteria should be followed to support the claim.

In addition, the report proposes new rules for waste management, including the removal of legal obstacles that prevent repair, resale and reuse. This will also benefit the secondary raw material market.

Fight against unsafe products sold online

In another resolution on product safety in the Single Market, approved by 45 (no abstentions and votes against), MEPs addressed the issue of unsafe products – particularly those sold on online marketplaces. This includes products that contain dangerous chemicals, have unsafe software, or pose other safety hazards.

MEPs want online platforms and marketplaces to take proactive measures to tackle misleading practices and demand that EU rules on product safety should be enforced robustly. They emphasise that compliance with product safety rules must be ensured, for products circulating in the EU and manufactured either in the EU or outside it, allowing a fair competition between companies and securing reliable product information for consumers.

The resolution also addresses the safety and security of AI (e.g. supporting the development of effective checks on high-risk products embedded with AI), and calls for a revision of the current product safety legislation, such as the General Product Safety Directive and the Machinery Directive, to adapt it to the digitalization of products.

Next steps

The plenary vote for both reports is expected to take place in November.

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EU

Refugee camps on the Greek islands: Situation and challenges

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The situation on the Greek islands following the destruction of the Moria refugee camp was the focus of a debate in the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday afternoon (27 October).

MEPs quizzed representatives of the European Commission and the German Presidency of the Council about the situation on the temporary Kara Tepe site, which houses most of the 12,000 people left homeless by the fire in Moria. They will also look into the challenges faced by the Greek authorities regarding reception of migrants and asylum-seekers and processing of their asylum claims.

Recent revelations about Frontex staff and resources allegedly being involved in illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers carried out by Greek border guards are also likely to be raised during the exchange of views.

Check the full agenda of the committee meeting. You can follow the discussion.

The humanitarian emergency in Lesvos after the fire in Moria and EU aid to the Greek authorities was discussed in a plenary debate with Commissioner Johansson on 17 September.

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