Sunday

15th Dec 2019

Magazine

AI's ethical dilemma for EU

  • Chairwoman Lucy Nethsingha (Renew, UK): 'The main questions on the EU’s agenda, AI and climate change, will also be the main items on the JURI agenda' (Photo: European Union 2019 – Source: EP)

The legal affairs committee, also known as JURI, made headlines this year when it dethroned European Commission designates, over conflicts of interests.

The move helped cement the enforcement status of a European Parliament that had in the past struggled to gain an equal foothold with member state capitals.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Lucy Nethsingha presides over JURI and is a UK national from Southampton, whose home country is prying itself away from the European Union.

A Liberal Democrat belonging to the Renew Europe group, Nethsingha however still maintains a long-term vision for a committee she may soon have to leave. The committee is responsible for the interpretation, application and monitoring of Union law.

She ranks Artificial Intelligence (AI) and climate change as among JURI's biggest priorities over the next five years.

Nethsingha says JURI's work on AI will have a particular impact on start-ups, as it hopes to help shape AI development and roll-out.

The committee's coordinators are looking at four broad areas, amid plans to draw up initiative reports on each: on an ethical framework, on state authority, on liability, and on intellectual property rights.

"A proper and balanced regulation on ethical aspects and on liability will help to build trust in this new technology," she says.

Those coordinators include Axel Voss (EPP, Germany), Tiemo Wölken (S&D, Germany), Karen Melchior (Renew, Denmark), Marie Toussaint (Greens/EFA, France), Angel Dzhambazki (ECR, Bulgaria), Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, France) and Gilles Lebreton (ID, France).

If it works out, Nethsingha says getting the own initiative reports sorted and taken up by the commission would become the committee's biggest achievement.

Climate change will also figure large as JURI's input aims to untangle thorny issues like company law.

"We already know that the commission is preparing proposals on the question of sustainable corporate governance," says Nethsingha.

It means, among other things, that the committee will have to figure out if company obligations should only deal with sustainability in a climate change sense, or in a wider environmental sense.

The ethics of AI

Building machines that can reason and learn poses a slew of ethical questions. Some warn that the intelligence revolution in machines could lead to self-awareness, otherwise known as 'the singularity'.

Getting the right balance when it comes to the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence will likely be among the most difficult questions that will be posed in JURI.

Nethsingha says that balance needs to be weighed against AI's innovation, development and deployment.

"On the most divisive question, it is of course difficult to tell, but I think that our agenda will include questions regarding how far the duties of companies will stretch," she says.

Figuring out to what extent a company should have these duties and responsibilities in regard to their supply chains will also be difficult, notes Nethsingha.

"The most divisive question may be the nature of any obligations. Should they be mandatory or advisory? What should the consequences be if the rules are not followed?," she says.

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.

Magazine

Six priorities for human rights

Belgian socialist MEP Marie Arena is chairing the European Parliament's sub-committee on human rights. Her biggest challenge? Finding ways to reach objectives that cover an enormous spectrum of issues - from climate to child protection.

Magazine

EU must manage climate and industry together

For Romanian centre-right MEP Adina-Ioana Valean, the previous chair of environment committee and current chair of industry, research and energy (ITRE), climate and industrial policy-making must go hand-in-hand to bring sustainability and prosperity to Europe.

Magazine

ENVI to deliver 'Green Deal' as main priority

The French liberal MEP Pascal Canfin, who is chairing the European Parliament's committee on environment, public health, and food safety, is adamant to deliver the Green Deal quickly - because "we cannot afford to waste time".

Magazine

Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

News in Brief

  1. EU Scream podcast wins media award
  2. Sturgeon will set out Scottish independence plan next week
  3. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  4. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  5. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  6. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  7. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  8. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Magazine

Which parties and countries chair the EP committees?

Although the European Parliament tries to keep a geopolitical balance within the committees, the breakdown of the actual chairs of the committees by political party and nationality is uneven - with a clear under-representation of central and eastern EU countries.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU values face scrutiny This WEEK
  2. EU sighs relief after 'decisive' Johnson victory in UK
  3. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  4. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  5. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  6. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  7. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  8. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us