Approaching the Tape: The EU’s Final Strides in the AI Legislation Marathon

February 8, 2024
Authored by
Osman Gazi Güçlütürk
Legal & Regulatory Lead in Public Policy at Holistic AI
Approaching the Tape: The EU’s Final Strides in the AI Legislation Marathon

On December 9th, 2023, an important milestone was reached with the EU AI Act. A provisional agreement was reached, marking the end of intense Trilogue negotiations for the AI Act.

By the 26th of January, 2024, additional details have already surfaced. The Presidency of the Council sent a draft prepared according to this political agreement to the Coreper (Committee of the Permanent Representatives), a preparatory body for the Council.

This draft was unanimously endorsed on February 2nd by the Coreper I, which is composed of deputy permanent representatives of the EU Member States. While not an official Council approval, this unanimous approval by the Coreper I often signals an imminent formal nod, bypassing further debate unless a Member State intervenes. As such, many view the Coreper I endorsement as an official adoption by the Council.

A bit of history on the EU AI Act

The journey of the landmark EU AI Act started in April 2021 with a proposal by the European Commission and is currently going through the final stages of the EU legislative procedure. Poised to be to AI what GDPR is to data protection, the AI Act is set to reshape the landscape of AI regulation. Its evolution is under the global spotlight as stakeholders from every corner of the AI ecosystem eagerly anticipate its impact.

The EU legislative procedure is made up of many discussions, agreements, and approvals between the initial Commission proposal and the publication of an act in the official journal, which triggers the application of the act, in principle. The most crucial agreements to seek are the ones between the Council and the Parliament, aka the European Co-legislators.

What are next steps? Will the EU AI Act change before final adoption?

Under EU law, for a proposal to be adopted as an act, it needs to be officially adopted by both of the European co-legislators: The European Parliament and the Council. As of today, February 7th, 2024 there is no such official adoption by either of them. The baton, having passed from Coreper I, now lies with the European Parliament. The draft was sent to the European Parliament by the Presidency of the Council, and it will be voted by the IMCO and LIBE committees of the Parliament on February 13, 2024. Similarly to Coreper, the committees are preparatory bodies for the Parliament.

The Parliament's definitive vote, slated for the plenary session on 10-11 April 2024 could see the draft officially adopted by the Parliament. Although the final formal approval of the EU legislative procedure has to come from the Council, the preceding extensive negotiations and Coreper I's endorsement hint at the AI Act's de facto passage post-Parliament approval. Indeed, the Council Presidency's communication to the Coreper seeks a mandate to assure the Parliament of the Council's readiness to endorse the Parliament's position should the Parliament adopt its position in the form set out in the draft, paving the way for the Act's enactment in alignment with the Parliament's resolution.

After a formal adoption of the EU AI Act, what’s next?

The EU AI Act is a complex regulatory instrument about a dynamic and complicated technology. It will take some time, first, for the regulatory mechanism and dynamic, including standards and codes of practices as well as conduct, to be developed and, second, for the operators to implement these rules, codes, and standards in practice. In other words, the AI Act’s journey has indeed been a marathon so far, but it is not the final one and is bound to be followed by another on the implementation as well as enforcement of the AI Act.

Recognizing the complexity of adoption - and similar to the GDPR’s implementation -  the EU AI Act comes with a 2-year general grace period with exceptions for specific provisions.

Additionally, during the grace period after the official adoption, a scheme entitled the AI Pact shall be conducted by the Commission to incentivize the voluntary early commitment to the rules and principles of the AI Act with the participation of the major industry actors. In fact, the Commission already started to act for the AI Act and established the AI Office on January 24, 2024, even before the official adoption of the act.

A more detailed explanation of the next steps of the EU AI Act can be seen in the corrosponding graphic. 

EU AI Act Timeline

Get ahead in the EU AI Act preparedness!

There may be more than two years before the general application date of the AI Act. However, the official adoption of the Act is around the corner, and some of its provisions may actually start applying by the end of 2024.

Compliance with a comprehensive and cross-sectoral framework, such as the EU AI Act, cannot happen overnight. Getting started early is the best way to maximize alignment. Make sure you are equipped to navigate the rules and requirements of the EU AI Act with Holistic AI and deploy appropriate risk assessment, mitigation, and prevention tools in place.

Our Governance, Risk, and Compliance Platforms and a suite of innovative solutions are trusted by companies around the globe, many of which are already preparing for the EU AI Act.

Schedule a call with our experts to find out how Holistic AI can help you with our visionary AI Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance Platform, as well as our suite of AI audit solutions.

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DISCLAIMER: This blog article is for informational purposes only. This blog article is not intended to, and does not, provide legal advice or a legal opinion. It is not a do-it-yourself guide to resolving legal issues or handling litigation. This blog article is not a substitute for experienced legal counsel and does not provide legal advice regarding any situation or employer.

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