Executives and senior managers of more than 150 large European companies have doubts, and serious ones, about how the European Union plans to become the first region in the world to regulate artificial intelligence (AI). They are above all concerned, as they have explained in an open letter sent to the main European institutions —Commission, Council and the European Parliament— that with the strict controls that this regulation intends to impose, especially on generative AI (such as ChatGPT), the competitive capacity of the European industry is “endangered” against its rivals, especially the United States. If key aspects of the regulations are not “reviewed”, they warn, there could be a flight of these companies to less regulated territories than the European one.
“The proposed legislation may jeopardize European competitiveness and technological sovereignty, without efficiently addressing the challenges that we are facing and will continue to face” in terms of AI, especially generative AI, warn in the letter senior managers, founders or key shareholders of European flagship companies such as Airbus, Siemens, Orange, Publicis, Ravensburg or TomTom.
The European Parliament approved its final position on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Law in mid-month. Its version is stricter in terms of transparency controls and extra layers of security, especially for generative AI, than the original proposal of the European Commission and the one approved by the States in December. Now, under the current Spanish presidency of the EU, a final text must be negotiated in three parties, which is expected to become a norm for the entire EU at the latest in 2026, in addition to a pioneering model of legislation in the world.
It is precisely the greater regulation of generative AI that worries companies the most, according to the letter advanced by the Financial Times and that he has been able to consult EL PAÍS. For the signatories, the proposal to “strongly regulate” these foundational models will mean that the companies that develop and apply them must face “disproportionate compliance costs and liability risks”. Something that, they warn, “could lead highly innovative companies to transfer their activities abroad” and that investors “withdraw their capital” from European projects in the field of generative AI, which would cause a “critical productivity gap between the two sides of the Atlantic”.
For the signatories, it is key that the EU “seizes this opportunity to create a legally binding level playing field.” But this requires, they say, that European officials “review the latest version of the AI Law and agree on proportionate and forward-looking legislation that contributes to European competitiveness while protecting society.”
One of the co-sponsors of the AI Law, the Italian Social Democrat Brando Benifei, has responded that he takes note of the request, but has made it clear that the European Parliament will not set aside the protection of “fundamental rights” in the face of technologies that raise many doubts due to their intrusive potential and as an instrument of state control.
“We have listened and we will continue to listen to all the concerns,” says Benifei. But for the Italian, who during the negotiations made clear the importance of the legislation making “AI content recognizable and that deep fakes do not poison our democracy”, the work of European legislators can and does address “the impact on fundamental rights” of AI “without hindering the necessary search for innovation and its application to improve society”.
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