European Parliament’s Report on Artificial Intelligence

On January 20, 2020, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution which includes new guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for civil and military use.  

This resolution is based on a working document published April 29, 2020, produced by the rapporteur, Gilles Lebreton, which focused on the “interpretation and application of International law in so far as the EU is affected in the areas of civil and military uses and of state authority outside the scope of criminal justice”. This area of focus was also recalled by the European Parliament in another resolution adopted in December 2020 focusing on new guidelines on the use of AI for military purposes and its use in the health and justice sectors

“The purpose of the report is to establish recommendations for the use of AI in three areas of state sovereignty: military, justice, and health.”


The rapporter welcomed the adoption of this resolution as he believes it will definitely shape and influence future regulation produced by the EU in the field of AI. 

In the introduction to this new resolution, the EP highlights that “AI, robotics and related technologies are being developed quickly, and have a direct impact on all aspects of our societies, including basic social and economic principles and values”. Consequently, the Union must ensure that it has a common framework that “must cover the development, deployment and use of AI, robotics and related technologies, and must ensure respect for human dignity and human rights, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”.

The EP also highlights that “it is necessary to adopt a common European legal framework with harmonized definitions and common ethical principles, including the use of AI for military purposes”. To this end, it asks the Commission to adopt the definitions of “AI system” and “autonomous” as found in the document. 

Military uses of AI

In the section concerning ‘International public law and military uses of artificial intelligence’, the EP recalls the rights that are applicable and the principles that must be respected in this field. It considers that a human being must be the ultimate decision-maker and that “AI used in a military and a civil context must be subject to meaningful human control, so that at all times a human has the means to correct, halt or disable it […]”. The EP also reiterates “that autonomous decision-making should not absolve humans from responsibility, and that people must always have ultimate responsibility for decision-making processes so that the human responsible for the decision can be identified”.

According to the European Parliament, the European Union must participate in “the creation of an international legal framework for the use of artificial intelligence”. Furthermore, it invites “the Vice President of the Commission / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP / HR) to pave the way for global negotiations with a view to putting in place an AI arms control regime and updating all existing treaty instruments on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation so as to take into account AI-enabled systems used in warfare”.

As per their December 2020 resolution, the European Parliament recalls its position on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), insisting “on the need for an EU-wide strategy against LAWS and a ban on so-called ‘killer robots’.”

Facial Recognition technologies

In the section on State authority, the European Parliament invites the European Commission to consider the application of a moratorium on facial recognition technology. In particular, the ban would focus “on the use of these systems [Facial Recognition Technologies] in public spaces by public authorities and in premises meant for education and healthcare, as well as on the use of facial recognition systems by law enforcement authorities in semi-public spaces such as airports, until the technical standards can be considered fully fundamental rights-compliant, the results derived are non-biased and non-discriminatory, and there are strict safeguards against misuse that ensure the necessity and proportionality of using such technologies”.

Transport and Private International Law

The EP highlights the benefits that AI could bring, for instance in the field of transport. In fact it “stresses that intelligent transport systems mitigate traffic congestion, increase safety and accessibility and contribute to improving the management of traffic flows, efficiency and mobility solutions; draws attention to the increased exposure of traditional transport networks to cyber threats”.

The guidelines also focus on autonomous vehicles, highlighting their great potential to improve “mobility, safety and bring environmental benefits”. Accordingly, it invites “the Commission and the Member States to ensure cooperation among regulators and all stakeholders relevant to the deployment of automated road vehicles in the EU”.

The European Parliament indicates that AI can also help to resolve private international law disputes “by creating models to identify the competent jurisdiction and applicable law for each case, and also to identify the most sensitive conflicts and laws and propose ways of resolving them”. However, the “public must be properly informed about the uses of AI in international private law” as for example the increased use of autonomous vehicles in the European Union risks creating numerous disputes in the field of private international law. It highlights that this area “must be the subject of specific European rules stipulating the legal regime applicable in the event of cross-border damage”.

Finally, the resolution puts forward four guiding principles. It: 

  • “Considers that AI technologies and network systems should aim to provide legal certainty for citizens; underlines, therefore, that rules on conflict of laws and jurisdictions should continue to apply, while taking into account citizens’ interests, as well as the need to reduce the risk of forum-shopping; recalls that AI cannot replace humans in the judicial process when it comes to passing sentence or taking a final decision of any kind, as such decisions must always be taken by a human, and be strictly subject to human verification and due process; insists that when using evidence provided by AI-assisted technologies, the judicial authorities should have the obligation to provide reasons for their decisions;
  • Recalls that AI is a scientific advance which must not undermine the law, but must on the contrary always be governed by it — in the European Union by the law emanating from its institutions and its Member States — and that under no circumstances can AI, robotics and related technologies contravene fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law;
  • Stresses that AI used for defence purposes should be: responsible, equitable, traceable, reliable and governable;
  • Considers that artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies, including the software, algorithms and data used or produced by such technologies, regardless of the field in which they are used, should be developed in a secure and technically rigorous manner”.


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