New EU Council President prioritises AI and chips
On July 1, the Czech Republic took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from France and, for the next six months, it will set the priorities of the EU’s political agenda. On Wednesday July 6, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala presented the program for the semester of the Czech Presidency of the Council to the European Parliament.
The Council of the European Union is one of the three European institutions involved in the legislative process, along with the European Commission and the European Parliament. Although the Council cannot pass legislation on its own, as it has to reach agreements with the European Parliament, it has significant leverage in pushing the bloc’s legislative agenda in one direction or another. For example, France was very keen on adopting new regulations to tame the power of large online platforms and to provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for crypto assets, achieving both goals. The pressure from France was such that the three institutions reached an agreement on the regulation of crypto-asset markets on the last day of the French presidency, June 30.
The Czech Presidency will be marked by the conflict in Ukraine, the refugee crisis and the need to break the EU’s dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal. But setting aside the armed conflict, the Czechs are stepping up their efforts to push for the approval of key legislation that will help Europe’s economy through uncertain times. Unlike the French presidency, which focused on legislation to control non-EU companies operating in the EU, such as big tech companies and crypto asset providers, the Czech Republic will focus on new legislation which will ensure that EU companies have access to strategic raw materials. materials and components and can operate on secure IT supply chains, and that the whole of the EU accelerates the digitization and automation of its industry.
The first priority will be to pass the European Chip Act, which will provide funding for new semiconductor factories in Europe, new training programs to build talent and other incentives to ensure that companies in the EU are not disrupted by supply chain issues.
Read more: EU chip law nets companies producing in the EU $12.6 billion
The second priority will be to obtain an agreement on the scope of the law on artificial intelligence. This proposal is in the European Parliament and policymakers have made great progress, but given the number of amendments to the text, it is not certain that the new rules will be adopted before the end of the Czech Presidency. The AI law will establish certain standards that will have to be met by European and non-European companies. The EU has previously stated that while the EU is not an AI superpower, it still wants to help set global standards in this area in line with EU values.
Read more: European Parliament discusses AI law with deal in sight
The third priority concerns data and digital identity. As the EU seeks to move towards a more digitized society, comprising regulators, businesses, industry and public administrations, regulators are working on different initiatives to create an open data society. The new Council President is likely to push for the adoption of a pan-European tool to prove a citizen’s identity, the so-called European Digital Wallet. This would allow citizens to identify themselves, not only in physical offices, but also online. For FinTechs and payment companies, this could ease the process of onboarding new customers and simplify Know-Your-Customer programs, potentially impacting levels of fraud or improper payments.
But for the European digital wallet to become a reality, the EU needs new data rules governing how institutions and companies would use and have access to a new pool of data. The Data Law is another piece of legislation that the Czech Presidency is likely to introduce alongside the digital wallet. This new law will give companies better access to data, including data from non-EU companies, and it will give citizens better control over their data and who has access to it.
Read more: New EU data law could force US companies to share more data