Top European Companies: ‘Serious Concerns’ About EU AI Act

CEOs from Renault, Siemens and Orange are among more than 150 European business leaders signing an open letter to the EU

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

July 3, 2023

3 Min Read
EU flags
Jorisvo/Getty Images

At a Glance

  • EU AI Act could hinder European companies from keeping up on AI developments, especially generative AI, says executives.
  • Signatories argue EU AI Act over-regulates AI models like ChatGPT.

CEOs from Renault, Siemens and Orange are among more than 150 business leaders signing an open letter saying they have “serious concerns” about the EU’s AI Act, the most comprehensive AI legislation in the world that is set to become law.

The letter, titled ‘Artificial Intelligence: Europe's chance to rejoin the technological avant-garde,’ said that the EU’s prospective AI legislation would “jeopardize Europe's competitiveness and technological sovereignty without effectively tackling the challenges we are and will be facing.”

Also among the signatories is Meta Chief Scientist and Turing Award winner Yann LeCun, who is French, as well as Heineken executive director Michel de Carvalho, Renault group chief scientific officer Luc Julia (a previous guest on the AI Business podcast) and Airbus chair René Obermann.

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The signatories argue that the EU AI Act would heavily regulate foundation models like ChatGPT regardless of their use cases.

“Companies developing and implementing such systems would face disproportionate compliance costs and disproportionate liability risks,” the letter reads.

The signatories contend that the bill, in its current form, would lead to innovators being forced to move away from the EU and disenfranchise potential investors.

Related:EU AI Act Reaction: AI’s GDPR Moment as Big Tech ‘Sounds the Alarm’

“The result would be a critical productivity gap between the two sides of the Atlantic,” the signatories said. “Europe cannot afford to stay on the sidelines.”

The authors acknowledge that AI development requires safety considerations but forcing what they call “rigid compliance logic” is “as bureaucratic of an approach as it is ineffective in fulfilling its purpose.”

The authors said European law should only set broad principles in a risk-based approach for AI regulation. Implementation should be left to a dedicated regulatory body composed of experts at the EU level and carried out in an “agile” process that adapts rapidly to technological developments with an eye on their economic impact.

Calls for a transatlantic framework

Along with decrying the AI Act, the signatories called for the formation of a transatlantic framework on AI, calling it “a priority.”

The authors said such a framework would be “a prerequisite to ensuring the credibility of the safeguards” their businesses put in place.

The letter readers: “Given that many major players in the U.S. ecosystem have also raised similar proposals, it is up to the representatives of the EU to take this opportunity to create a legally binding level playing field.”

The likes of Microsoft, IBM and Google have all come up with frameworks, pledges and practices towards deploying AI responsibly. While there are no dedicated legal rules on AI from the U.S. government at present, the authors of the letter argue that Europe should work together with the U.S. to align on the matter.

“We are convinced that our future significantly depends on Europe becoming part of the technological avant-garde, especially in such an important field as generative artificial intelligence.”

Not much time left for revisions

The business leaders call on EU politicians to revise the AI Act to make it more friendly to European competitiveness.

“It is our joint responsibility to lay the foundation for a European AI development that is in line with our values and forms the basis for a strong, innovative, and prosperous Europe,” the letter reads.

The EU AI Act has just one hurdle before becoming law – one final agreement between the European Parliament and European Council.

Lawmakers will now make final revisions and amendments, with bloc members then given around two years to implement it into law.

The most recent update saw the European Parliament approve the AI Act in a landslide vote in mid-June. AI experts from Deloitte found the EU AI Act to be more rigid than the U.K.’s regulatory approach when it comes to innovation.

The various business leaders' calls for revisions join that of comments made by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who said in May that the company would have to leave Europe for fear of being restricted by the bill. He later recanted the comments.

Read more about:

ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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