Trilateral meeting France, Germany and Italy together with the tech industry

Don't let corporate lobbying further water down the AI Act, lobby watchdogs warn MEPs

One day before the final vote on the AI Act in the European Parliament, lobby watchdogs Observatoire des Multinationales (France), Corporate Europe Observatory (Belgium) and LobbyControl (Germany) warn that the implementation of AI Act rules could be further weakened by corporate lobbying.

Brussels, 12.03.2024 – New research into the lobbying activities of AI start-ups such as France's Mistral AI, Germany's Aleph Alpha and tech giants Microsoft and Google shows just how strong corporate influence has already been during the negotiations. This one-sided influence meant that 'general purpose AI', was largely exempted from the rules and only required to comply with a few transparency obligations. Important safeguards on general-purpose AI, such as fundamental rights checks, have been removed from the AI Act. The German and French governments have pushed for these exemptions during the negotiations.

There is a great risk that this one-sided influence will continue in the implementation of the rules. Many details of the AI Act are still open and need to be clarified in numerous implementing acts, for example, with regard to standards, thresholds or transparency obligations. The composition of the advisory board of the new EU AI Agency is also still unclear.

Privileged access during negotiations

In the final stages of the negotiations, tech giants and start-ups were given privileged and disproportionate access to high-level European decision-makers. In Brussels, this led to 78% of senior Commission officials meeting with industry on AI - only in 2023.

German AI start-up Aleph Alpha also had privileged access to the German government. This was reflected in 12 high-level meetings with representatives of the German government between June and November 2023. These included chancellor Olaf Scholz and ministers Robert Habeck (economics) and Volker Wissing (digital affairs).

The French AI start-up Mistral has a prominent and well-connected lobbyist in its co-founder and former State Secretary for Digital Affairs. Cedric O is also a member of the French government's Interdepartmental Committee on Generative AI, which was set up in September 2023. He is joined on the committee by MistralAI co-founder Arthur Mensch, as well as representatives from Google and Meta.

Olivier Petitjean,  Observatoire des Multinationales co-founder and coordinator, comments: "The debate on the regulation of general-purpose AI in Germany and France in particular has been dominated by the AI industry. However, important rules for AI must not be sacrificed in favour of corporate profits. Balanced participation in the enforcement of the rules must be ensured".

Bram Vranken, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher and campaigner, adds: "Big Tech's lobbying power should not be able to buy access and influence on important legislation. The AI law is an important tool to ensure that people's fundamental rights are respected. We therefore call on the EU not to allow Big Tech and its allies to water down the implementation process".

Felix Duffy, LobbyControl campaigner, concludes: "The German government has willingly opened its doors to the AI start-up Aleph Alpha. This gave Aleph Alpha privileged access to political decision-makers, which led to a watering down of the rules. However, given the urgency of AI regulation, more transparency and balance is needed.”


For media inquiries, please contact

Kathrin Anhold, LobbyControl press officer;  +49 (0)30/ 4 67 26 72 11

Bram Vranken, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher and campaigner; +32 497 13 14 64

Olivier Petitjean,Observatoire des Multinationales co-founder and coordinator; + 33 6 08 27 39 89

Notes to editor:

  • Read LobbyControl’’s article here 
  • Read Observatoire des Multinationales’ article here
  • Read Corporate Europe Observatory’s article here
  • In November 2023, Corporate Europe Observatory revealed how Big Tech undermined the AI Act
  • In February 2023, Corporate Europe Observatory documented the intense lobbying faced by the EU in its attempt to regulate AI


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