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Ministers welcome agreement on EU Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act

The EU Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act was endorsed by all Member States today and will enter into force in the coming months. The obligations under the Act will be phased in over a period of 36 months with the key obligations in place within 24 months.

The Act, which is in effect a regulation, aims to ensure that the fundamental rights, health and safety of the individual are protected while promoting responsible innovation.  It is central to ensuring that AI systems are designed, developed and deployed in an ethical and trustworthy manner.

Under the AI Act, unacceptable risks like emotion recognition technology in the workplace will not be allowed. High risk areas such as health, recruitment and law enforcement will be subject to mandatory compliance requirements.  Medium risk systems will be subject to transparency requirements and low risk AI systems are permitted without restrictions. 

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD, said; 

“The AI Act is a hugely important piece of legislation that sees the EU lead on regulating this powerful and evolving technology.  It will help foster trust amongst its users through its compliance obligations, transparency and accountability requirements while also ensuring the responsible development of AI which will encourage enterprises to invest and innovate in this new technology.“ 

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD, added; 

“The AI Act is the first of its kind and will ensure that AI systems will be used in a trustworthy and ethical manner to protect the rights of the individual while ensuring that the opportunities that this technology brings in areas such as health, the environment, education, will be maximised through responsible, trustworthy innovation. 

“Crucially, this regulation supports Ireland’s ambition to become a leading country in using AI to the benefit of our people, through a human-centred and ethical approach to AI adoption and use. Work will commence immediately on implementing this important regulation.” 

The Act will still require the approval of the European Parliament, as co-legislator, which is expected in the coming weeks. It must then be formally adopted by Ministers ahead of having direct effect.