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Position statement from the Federal Government in response to the European Commission’s white paper on AI

In a 28-page position statement, the Federal Government reacts in detail to the European Commission’s AI white paper on the future handling of artificial intelligence in business, work and society.

In a 28-page position statement, the Federal Government reacts in detail to the European Commission’s AI white paper on the future handling of artificial intelligence in business, work and society.

In February, the European Commission published its digital strategy, which consisted of a data strategy, a report on questions of safety and liability and the white paper on AI. With its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, the Commission is presenting a proposal aimed on the one hand at promoting the use of AI and on the other at curtailing the risks associated with this technology.

One of the white paper’s key concerns is to strengthen society’s trust in the possibilities created by AI. To this end, it envisages a regulatory framework fine-tuned to match the special characteristics of AI. The guiding principles presented by the white paper are the creation of ecosystems of excellence and of trust and the safe, reliable use of artificial intelligence. The European Commission has invited the Member States to respond, extending the invitation to all other interested parties as well. Within the Federal Government, alongside the three principal drivers behind the AI strategy – the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Education – the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice were also involved in the white paper process. Within the Federal Ministry of Labour, the Policy Lab helped prepare and agree Germany’s position on the white paper.

Portrait von Hubertus Heil
Federal minister of labour Hubertus Heil

Statement

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Europe should pursue its own path of digitalisation with great self-confidence. To do so, it needs to agree on a common approach to a regulatory framework for AI. This requires clear identification of which elements require protection and what the objectives of such protection should be – these might include transparency, traceability or guaranteeing that any final decision will always rest with human beings. Such objectives and elements requiring protection must be incorporated into the legal framework to be developed. The European Commission’s white paper is an important step towards ensuring our sovereignty in the digital world.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has addressed three main issues in the German position paper, expressing its commitment to a coherent and EU-wide legal framework:

AI-based products must be just as safe as any other product. For this reason, the Ministry advocates a risk-based and graduated approach to AI applications. AI-based systems and services must be transparent, readily understandable and subject to human control in practice. Only in this way is it possible to earn employees’ and consumers’ trust in AI.

The same rules governing product security, e.g. concerning the authorisation and utilisation of AI systems, must apply across the EU. For this reason, the ministry is in favour of a binding legal framework for artificial intelligence that ensures security, provides scope for innovations and strengthens the European internal market through harmonisation.

At the same time, a binding legal framework strengthens not only the internal market but also Europe’s digital sovereignty. Anyone who places an AI application on the market and operates it in Europe must adhere to our values and the rules for ensuring compliance with and enforcement of these values.

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