Insights | EU Insight April 27, 2018

EU Insight April 27, 2018

COMMISSION OUTLINES PLAN TO BOOST ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The Commission presented measures to boost Europe’s competitiveness in artificial intelligence (AI). The proposals plan to increase financial support by at least €20 billion between now and the end of 2020, encourage uptake in both the public and private sector, and ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework. It will also prepare for the socio-economic changes brought about by AI, such as job losses in certain industries. The plan reflects European leaders’ calls for an EU approach, and the Commission will now work with Member States to coordinate their plans on AI by the end of this year.

EU AND MEXICO REACH NEW AGREEMENT ON TRADE

The EU and Mexico reached a new agreement on trade as part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement. Practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will now be duty-free, including agricultural goods. Simpler customs procedures will further benefit the EU’s industry, including in sectors like pharmaceuticals, machinery and transport equipment. The agreement also lays down progressive rules on sustainable development. Among other things, the EU and Mexico have committed to effectively implementing their obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change. It will also be the first EU trade agreement to explicitly tackle corruption in the private and public sectors.

COMMISSION SETS NEW STANDARDS FOR ONLINE PLATFORMS

The Commission proposed new rules for online platforms to increase safety for small businesses in the digital economy. The new rules will contribute to building a fairer, more transparent and predictable business environment when using search engines for attracting internet traffic to the websites of small businesses. The providers of online intermediation services will be obliged to ensure clear communication of their terms and set up complaint-handling systems. The enforcement will be monitored by a newly set up EU Observatory. The proposal reflects stakeholder calls to address the issues of unfair contractual clauses and trading practices.

EU MOBILISES INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENT AT THE BRUSSELS II CONFERENCE ON SYRIA

The EU and the UN co-chaired the Brussels II Conference “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”. The Conference brought together delegations from over 85 countries, and committed to continued engagement and support for a UN-led political solution in Syria. At the conference, a commitment of €3,5 billion funding for 2018 was made by delegations, with the EU and its Member States committing to give €4,8 billion by 2020 –corresponding to some 77% of all funds pledged during the Conference. In addition, the Commission pledged €560 million of funding for 2019 to assist refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. 

NEW EU-WIDE RULES ON WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

The Commission published a proposal on protecting public and private sector whistleblowers, which aims to guarantee higher levels of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law by setting new, EU-wide standards. The new law will establish safe channels for reporting both within an organisation and to public authorities. It will also protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation, and requires that national regulators and law-makers provide training for public authorities on how to deal with whistleblowers. At present, ten EU Member States ensure that whistleblowers are fully protected, with standards varying greatly in the other Member States.

COMING UP NEXT WEEK

  • 3 May: EU-Moldova Association Council. On the agenda:  deep and comprehensive free trade area, justice, freedom and security.
  • 5 May: Informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers on defence.

Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab

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