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Today the Commission, Parliament and Council are meeting again to hash out a compromise on the AI Act. As the outcome of these secret negotiations is still unclear, Corporate Europe Observatory calls on lawmakers to put public interest over corporate greed.
In the last few months, negotiations on the AI Act were completely derailed as France, Germany and Italy have blocked regulating the development of the so-called foundation models, such as ChatGPT.
This dramatic turnaround is the result of Big Tech’s intense lobbying. Chief executives of Google, OpenAI and Microsoft have all shuttled to Europe to meet policy-makers at the highest level, including commission members and heads of state. This resulted in 86% of meetings on AI of high-level commission officials have been with the industry - only in 2023.
Moreover, some European AI companies have joined the ranks of Big Tech. For instance, over the Summer, Mistral AI opened a lobbying office in Brussels with former French Secretary of State for Digital Transition Cédric O in charge of EU relations. Cédric O is also known to have the ear of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Even if EU institutions reach a compromise in today’s trilogues, Big Tech’s lobbying has managed to secure a victory in watering down the AI Act. In fact, EU institutions have already agreed that tech companies can self-assess if an AI system poses a high risk.
Corporate Europe Observatory researcher and campaigner Bram Vranken says:
“Big Tech’s lobby firepower should not buy it access and influence over crucial legislation. Just as Big Tobacco was eventually excluded from lobbying public health officials, when the public interest is at risk, Big Tech's lobbying to secure their private interests must come to an end.
The AI Act is a vital tool to ensure the respect of people’s fundamental rights. We call on the EU not to let Big Tech and its allies derail it.”
Read CEO latest research on the tactics used by Big Tech to water down the AI Act here.
For further information, contact
Bram Vranken, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher and campaigner
email@example.com ; +32 497 131464
Notes to editor