Wednesday

28th Sep 2022

EU's AI military strategy poses 'threat to Europeans'

  • The European Commission last June approved the first 16 new military technologies projects (Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel)

The arms programmes of the EU, currently driven by digitalisation and artificial intelligence (AI), pose "a threat to the populations of Europe" as they fuel a military escalation of latent conflicts among major powers, according to a new report.

"On the EU level, there is serious rearmament with autonomous systems happening, and this clearly anticipates [a] global conflict," political scientist Christoph Marischka from the German Peace Movement Network, and author of the report, said on Friday (15 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"This is not about crisis management, it is about war in a near future," he warned, adding that these new forms of arms also have the potential to generate entirely new forms of surveillance and propaganda within Europe.

The advantages offered by progress in image-recognition and machine learning can notably increase military operational capacities - ranging from optimisation of logistics to autonomous weapons systems that can identify and attack a target with no human intervention.

The study, commissioned by The Left in the European Parliament, reveals the role that AI plays in the bloc's defence strategy, described by Marischka as a hype "propagated by industry and (venture) capital to mobilise public funds for their profits".

The European Commission approved last June the first 16 projects of new military technologies, which will benefit from €205m EU financing.

These include algorithms to handle swarms of drones, airborne electronic attack capabilities, unmanned ground vehicles, high-precision missiles and cybersecurity reinforcement.

"The EU's armament policy means unmanned and autonomous systems will be used in large numbers and often in swarms on land, air, sea, space and cyber in the future," said Marischka, arguing that actively promoting these developments "will change the nature of war and people's daily lives, increasingly blurring the distinction between conflict and peace".

Ahead of the commission's legislative proposal on AI, expected in early 2021, leftwing MEPs have urged a stop to this "arms race," calling on the EU executive to regulate or even a complete ban on autonomous weapon-systems and cyberwar.

"The escalation in armament does not just mean swarms of drones and killer robots, but it threatens to undo the difference between war and peace, civilians and combatants. The risk of a gradual loss of control is real. International law will then become meaningless," warned German MEP Özlem Alev Demirel.

"What sounds like science fiction could become a reality very soon, that is why we need to be extremely critical," she added.

Meanwhile, more than 60 civil society and rights groups have called on the commission to establish "appropriate limitations on the use of AI-based technologies" to ensure that their uses are safe, legal, and do not discriminate.

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, US officials been vociferous in calling on their Nato allies to increase spending and investment on their own defence capabilities.

EIB warns of €10bn investment gap in AI and blockchain

The European Investment Bank identified an annual investment shortfall of up to €10bn in artificial intelligence and blockchain in the EU - a gap that may hinder the bloc's attempts to catch China and the United States in these sectors.

Opinion

The Greek Watergate

In the European Parliament hearing into espionage against Greek politicians and reporters, the spied-upon journalists recounted their experiences — but the non-answers provided by the Greek government official were embarrassing, confrontative, and institutionally vacant.

Investigation

NSO surveillance rival operating in EU

As European Parliament hearings into hacking scandals resume this week, an investigation led by Lighthouse Reports with EUobserver, Der Spiegel, Domani and Irpimedia reveals the unreported scale of operations at a shady European surveillance outfit.

News in Brief

  1. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  2. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  3. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  4. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  5. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  6. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap
  7. EU: Nord Stream explosions 'result of a deliberate act'
  8. EU okays €21bn Covid-recovery funding for Italy amid concern

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Netherlands tops EU social safety net for the poor
  2. New EU rules to make companies liable for their AI failures
  3. Can King Charles III reset the broken Brexit relationship?
  4. Meloni's navy-blockade plan to stop Libya migrants 'unlikely'
  5. Underwater explosions were detected near Nord Stream leaks
  6. EU countries stall new pesticide rules, blame Ukraine war
  7. The UN's Uyghur report must push EU into China sanctions
  8. Russian diamonds ban 'would cost 10,000 jobs', Antwerp claims

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us