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The European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act must guarantee fundamental rights with no compromises

20 June 2023

In 2021, the European Commission proposed a project for REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL LAYING DOWN HARMONISED RULES ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE or shortly, Artificial Intelligence Act. This way, the European Union is committed to creating the world’s first ever regulation of public relations related to AI-based technologies. According the Commission’s reasoning:

In light of the speed of technological change and possible challenges, the EU is committed to strive for a balanced approach. It is in the Union interest to preserve the EU’s technological leadership and to ensure that Europeans can benefit from new technologies developed and functioning according to Union values, fundamental rights and principles.

Despite the European Commission’s declared intentions to guarantee the fundamental rights with the Artificial Intelligence Act, the initial proposition fails to consider a variety of issues. Therefore, in November 2022, over 100 organizations from across Europe approached the European institutions with specific proposals for improvements. At the EU Telecommunications Council meeting on 6 December 2022, however, all EU member States, including Bulgaria, agreed to adopt a “common approach” towards the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, which would be the basis for the upcoming trialogues with the European Parliament (as a part of the EU’s legislative process). The “common approach” amends the European Commission’s original proposal and introduces a new general exemption from the Act’s scope for Artificial Intelligence systems, which are placed on the market and used for “national security” purposes.

On 14 June 2023, the European Parliament adopted its position on the Artificial Intelligence Act, which acquires a number of measures guaranteeing fundamental rights proposed by NGOs, namely:

  • Bans on “facial recognition” and other artificial intelligence systems incompatible with fundamental rights;
  • Mandatory fundamental rights impact assessments for all high-risk AI systems;
  • Improved transparency by creating a registry for all high-risk AI systems and an obligation to publish impact assessments;
  • An explicitly regulated possibility for citizens to individually file complaints against the use of AI systems, which are in conflict with the measures.[1]

Moreover, the Parliament rejected the idea for the general and vague exception to the Artificial Intelligence Act on the grounds of “national security”. Thus, the European Council and the European Parliament will start the trialogues on the Artificial Intelligence Act (the trialogues involve the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council, consisting of the relevant competent ministers of the Member States). In order to adopt an act that effectively protects the fundamental rights, its is important to reject the idea of exceptions, by means of which the intended protective measures can easily be bypassed. The European Center for Non-Profit Law (ECNL) has therefore launched an initiative, calling on the national governments of the Member States to review the “common approach” adopted on 6 December 2022 by the European Council in relation to the “national security” exception.

The Bulgarian Center for Non-Profit Law (BCNL) has joined the ECNL’s initiative and sent a joint opinion to the competent Bulgarian institutions. Europe is in a process of accepting a revolutionary legislative act, which will become an example for the whole world. That is why it is extremely important to have no exceptions with the protection of fundamental rights, so that the European Union can once again demonstrate its leadership position in guaranteeing and defending human rights.


You can see the complete letter of the BCNL’s joint opinion in Bulgarian here.


[1] You can see details of the European Parliament’s position and the remaining pending proposals of civil organizations here – BIG WIN FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, AS THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS THE AI ACT