Today, the largest part of materials handling equipment manufacturer’s competitiveness relies on their capacity to bring in digital developments. In industrial AI, our European companies are (still) in a position of leadership globally. But for how long? The proposal on AI released earlier today casts strong doubts on our industry’s ability to develop AI-driven innovations going forward, all the more when considered together with the proposal on Machinery that was published concomitantly.
The first ever piece of EU legislation on AI comes after years of discussions and with the aim of providing some legal clarity and certainty. Supportive of a framework enabling trustworthy AI, FEM welcomes the choice of a Regulation as a legal instrument to foster uniform and consistent implementation. We also take note of the clear and limited scope of prohibited AI practices.
Placing stricter requirements on high-risk AI is understandable. However, the automatic qualification as high-risk of AI machines or components with a safety function creates a serious obstruction on innovation, as any future AI machinery could be potentially covered depending on how the concept of safety function will be interpreted. What is worse, in that case the proposal on Machinery makes third party certification compulsory, adding costs and delays for OEMs without any safety gain.
Despite specific measures encouraging innovation (e.g. sandboxes, digital hubs), FEM regrets that the approach taken does seem to consider industrial AI as a safety hazard that needs to be limited rather than an opportunity that must be supported.
FEM will carefully analyse the proposal in its entirety, and notably the requirements for high-risk AI systems, as well as specific obligations for manufacturers (including post-market monitoring plans that will have to be part of the technical documentation). We do hope that the upcoming decision-making process will make it possible to achieve a more balanced outcome enabling our companies to continue to innovate. Next week, the European Commission will reaffirm its unwavering support to the European industry. Meanwhile, EU’s main competitors, east and west, are making sure they actually enable their own industries to make the most of digital innovation.