On 24 January 2024, the European Commission announced the establishment of the European Artificial Intelligence Office (“AI Office”), a pivotal component of the governance and enforcement framework of the forthcoming AI Act. This decision to establish the office will enter into force on 21 February 2024.
With a provisional agreement on the Act reached in December 2023, the Commission’s establishment of the AI Office comes before the formal adoption of the EU AI Act, which is expected to happen in the upcoming months. This was a deliberate move from the commission to allow for the preparation of the implementation of the forthcoming AI Act as soon as possible, once formally adopted.
The AI Office is a function within the Commission aimed at contributing to the implementation as well as the enforcement of the AI Act. The AI Office was originally envisioned as an independent Union body with a separate legal personality under the European Parliament’s negotiating position back in June 2023. However, in the latest consolidated draft, it has been proposed as an office within the Commission and defined as “the Commission’s function of contributing to the implementation, monitoring and supervision of AI systems and AI governance.”
The decision establishing the AI Office reflects this approach and provides that the AI Office shall be within the Commission as part of the administrative structure of the Commission’s Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT or DG Connect) and operate in accordance with the Commission’s internal procedure.
Moreover, the pre-adoption establishment of the AI Office is foreseen under the consolidated draft. As such, in the final version of the AI Act, it is likely that the decision of the Commission establishing the AI Office shall be referred to explicitly. Then, after the adoption of the AI Act, the decision is likely to be revised to reflect the changes and delete references to the “forthcoming Regulation”.
The AI Office is set to play a crucial role in supporting the implementation and enforcement of the AI Act. Its mission and tasks can be classified under three main categories, as demonstrated below:
As can be seen from the broadly drafted comprehensive tasks shown above in the chart, the AI Office will be the primarily active and responsible office within the Commission in conducting the implementation as well as enforcement actions regarding the AI Act.
The financing of the AI Office has been challenging, with constraints in the EU budget and reluctance from member states to allocate additional resources. However, an agreement has been reached where the Digital Europe Programme will fund operational expenditures and the hiring of temporary staff, with human resources assigned by the Commission's digital policy department, DG CNECT.
The AI Act is at the final stages of the EU lawmaking procedure, and its gradual application is likely to begin before the end of 2024. In the meantime, the EU, primarily through the Commission and the AI Office, will promote early voluntary commitment to the rules and principles embodied by the AI Act.
Indeed, compliance cannot happen overnight. Getting started early is the best way to maximize alignment with emerging and existing laws. 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.
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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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