What if AI took care of traffic as well as driving? [Science and Technology podcast]

Written by Andrés García Higuera,

While public discussion concentrates on the idea of autonomous driving as an added feature in a vehicle, could it turn out that the real advantage lies in interoperability?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is empowering what has arguably become one of the most important trends in the automotive industry: autonomous driving. Manufacturers are already equipping their entry-level vehicles with emergency braking, collision warning and blind spot monitoring, and offering other advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) as options, such as autopilot, auto lane change, autopark and summon. Even when these ADAS still require a human in the loop, they are clearly pushing towards level 5 vehicle automation.

research on autonomous driving

© THI-Carissma

A fully automated vehicle has to operate safely in all circumstances. It needs to adapt to a changing environment, in which other elements are also moving. Typically, the AI in the vehicle allocates ‘uncertainty areas‘ to other objects in the road depending on their possible movements. However, as the number of moving elements in that environment increases, the system begins to require a reduction in these ‘uncertainty areas’ to accommodate its own trajectory. In the absence of additional data, this can only be achieved on the basis of suppositions collected and encoded in rules used by algorithms, with the assumption of risks.

Who sets these rules and programs the algorithms? How can anybody decide what risks are acceptable? There may be grounds here to decide on liability in cases of damage due to the system taking the wrong decision while following its program, rather than malfunctions where insurance companies could step in (in March 2017, the German Road Traffic Act was adapted to open the way for autonomous driving, and some manufacturers already contemplate facing this responsibility).

As traffic increases and the vehicle enters the uncertainty area of other moving elements, some level of interaction becomes necessary. In the same way as human drivers need to communicate and exchange signals by means of indicator lights or acoustic devices, such as the horn, autonomous vehicles need to gather information on the trajectories to be followed by other vehicles in order to reduce uncertainty. If no risks are acceptable at all, autonomous vehicles will not be able to operate in heavy traffic on their own. To reduce the uncertainty areas of other vehicles, the system needs to increase the amount of information it has on them. Thus, vehicles need to be connected and closely cooperate with each other, so that all of them can accommodate their own trajectories according to those of others.

Potential impacts and developments

As with all AI applications, autonomous vehicles require abundant data. Information external to the vehicle is crucial, as it needs to know the structure of the road and the presence of obstacles or other vehicles in its path. Internal information is also essential, as the vehicle needs to know its own status and the reliability of critical elements, such as brakes. Even if autonomous vehicles need to detect traditional signals and allocate uncertainty areas while sharing the public thoroughfare with non-autonomous vehicles, pedestrians and even animals, an efficient exchange of information with as many other vehicles as possible will greatly increase their safety, as well as their performance.

It follows that the more information the system can gather from other vehicles, the better (V2V). And this information can refer to the path other vehicles intend to take, as well as to their reliability. A path will be less reliable if a human driver is likely to be operating the controls to change the predefined trajectory, and it would also be useful to know the status of the steering system and brakes of that other vehicle. Road infrastructure such as signals can also be involved and coordinate with the flow of vehicles, knowing their intended trajectories (V2I). The autonomous vehicle thus becomes connected and operates as a part of its environment and traffic (V2X). Mostly sharing of operational information is contemplated for this, however privacy concerns still apply to specific questions, e.g. vehicle tracking and driver monitoring systems (DMS).

Intelligent transport systems (ITS) are a technological revolution in the transportation and automotive sector. The main goal of ITS is interconnecting all vehicles in a network so that safety and efficiency measures can be deployed in coordination. Besides, ITS can offer additional services. In fact, these technologies are evolving into an adaptation of the internet of things (IoT) to the automotive field, which is emerging as one of the most important technological trends for coming years.

Recent advances on smart vehicles and ITS give rise to the idea of the connected car as a central paradigm of new propositions aimed at introduction of collaborative systems and interoperability. In this context, many solutions for fleet control are already commercially available, whereas traffic optimisation is considered a realistic option for the near future. However, all these systems rely on information that is often internal to the vehicle and controlled by its manufacturer. For collaborative traffic to be really effective, AI systems in all vehicles need to be open to free exchange of internal data and connected to a global network.

Manufacturers tend to use proprietary systems to ensure their revenue from maintenance operations in their vehicles. However, while manufacturers may arguably have a claim to this maintenance revenue, the way in which some of them are limiting remote connection and the access to the information gathered by the vehicle and necessary for diagnosis and repair operations, constitutes a serious drawback to the development of new solutions for traffic control that aim for safer and more efficient vehicle circulation.

Anticipatory policy-making

For these new solutions on collaborative systems to work, it is necessary that all of the information concerning every vehicle is made available, e.g. through the on-board diagnostic (OBD) port. Most industrial vehicles already incorporate telematics systems such as smart tachographs (now compulsory) and others, to report on their status for fleet management and maintenance. Today, only limited specific legislation regarding automated mobility exists. However, seven big vehicle manufacturers have agreed on a standard protocol regarding basic parameters for fleet management systems. This protocol, identified as the fleet management system (FMS), is not backed by any European regulation and only allows for basic interoperability between management systems operating with vehicles from different manufacturers.

There is a growing new market for telematics solutions, some of which are already being developed by companies emerging in this sector. However, these solutions require access to diagnostic data through the OBD port without the restrictions set in place by some vehicle manufacturers. On the other hand, these may arguably have a legitimate right to include restrictions and they are also concerned about possible safety issues related to open access to vehicle data.

The maintenance sector (represented by associations such as EGEA) makes a claim for specific regulation on these issues. EGEA argues that manufacturers frequently set security gateways (SGW) restricting access to OBD vehicle information. This practice is contrary to Regulation (EC) No 595/2009 on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information, which specifies that ‘unrestricted access to vehicle repair information’ must be allowed at all times, and to related regulation (EU) No 2018/858, which makes specific reference to OBD systems, and even rules on how this must be done. According to the regulation, the OBD data has to be available for reading while the vehicle is in motion. This prevents tampering under these conditions, thus eliminating possible concerns related to vehicle safety. Restricting access to vehicle information results in a dominant position for manufacturers that is contrary to free competition and EU market rules. Facilitating remote access to this information would allow the transport industry to become more proficient by improving fleet management through predictive maintenance. It would also create the required conditions for the development of new solutions based on Big Data and AI that will make transport safer and more efficient. Enforcing the sector’s compliance with existing regulations and extending its scope (e.g. to increase references to remote data access), will help create the proper conditions for this sector to develop and grow with new solutions and service companies.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if AI took care of traffic as well as driving?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Listen to policy podcast ‘What if AI took care of traffic as well as driving?’ on YouTube.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/01/14/what-if-ai-took-care-of-traffic-as-well-as-driving-science-and-technology-podcast/

Artificial Intelligence in road transport: Cost of Non-Europe report

Written by Tatjana Evas and Aleksandra Heflich,

© Adobe Stock

Transport is one of the sectors in which artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are seeing rapid uptake. AI systems can detect patterns in a large volume of data and model complex solutions that enable increased efficiency in decision making and better resource allocation. The biggest transformation in the sector, yet to come, would be the deployment and uptake of highly autonomous vehicles and enhanced traffic management systems.

Many estimations show that the application of AI systems in the transport sector can bring some important benefits to the economy and create jobs, which could help balance out the negative effects that automation brings, such as loss of low-skilled jobs (Chapter 1).

For several years now, the European Parliament has been indicating that the transport sector is key for AI and has been advocating the harmonisation of rules to enhance the cross-border development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). This could fully exploit their economic potential and enable the EU to benefit from the positive effects of technological trends. In 2021, the European Commission is planning to address the current legal vacuum and will make a number of horizontal legislative proposals addressing AI (Chapter 1.2).

Against this backdrop this report analyses enablers for the development and deployment of AI in road transport. These are: (i) infrastructure, (ii) technology, (iii) investment, (iv) ethics, (v) the legal and policy framework and (vi) social acceptance. Next it identifies the gaps and barriers that still persist and hamper the potentially beneficial development of AI (Chapter 2).

Finally, the report estimates the cost of non-Europe (CoNE) – the cost of not acting at EU level – for AI in road transport (Chapter 3). This calculation is based on the study that underpins this report (see Annex 1). For this purpose, the report analyses in detail only selected AI enablers (EU policies and legislation, and how they could increase social acceptance of AI with regulatory rules). The report presents three sets of EU policy actions ranging from least ambitious – no additional intervention at EU level – to most ambitious, which addresses current weaknesses in the liability regime and strengthens the trust and safety of AI users in road transport.

Figure 1 – Proposed policy actions at EU level that could address some of the identified gaps that hinder the development and deployment of AI in road transport in the EU

Proposed policy actions at EU level that could address some of the identified gaps that hinder the development and deployment of AI in road transport in the EU

Calculations made as part of the study underpinning this CoNE report (Annex 1) point to a potential cost of non-Europe relating to AI in road transport. In 2030, the benefits lost if no further action is taken at EU level on liability in AI and on enhancing the trust of users of AI in road transport could amount to between €231 097 and €275 287 million, were none of the gaps and barriers analysed addressed. This EU action would be also beneficial for employment and could create between 5.181 and 6.147 million jobs.

Table 1 – Estimated direct cost of non-Europe, in 2030, EU-27

Estimated direct cost of non-Europe, in 2030, EU-27

Read this complete ‘in-depth analysis’ on ‘Artificial Intelligence in road transport: Cost of Non-Europe report‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/01/13/artificial-intelligence-in-road-transport-cost-of-non-europe-report/

Digital revolution and legal evolution: Athens Roundtable on the Rule of Law and Artificial Intelligence

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

Artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting the architecture and implementation of law in several ways. AI systems are being introduced in regulatory and standards-setting bodies and courts in several jurisdictions, to advance the functions of the la w and facilitate access to justice. Sound standards and certifications for AI systems need to be created so that judges, lawyers and citizens alike know when to trust and when to mistrust AI. Within this frame, several questions arise: Do we need ‘legal protection by design’? What are the legal and ethical boundaries to AI systems? Are existing legal frameworks adequate to cope with the challenges associated with the deployment of AI?

To respond to these questions and in view of the recent launch of its new Centre for Artificial Intelligence (C4AI), STOA co-hosted the 2020 edition of the Athens Roundtable on Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law, on 16‑17 November 2020 with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other prominent institutions. Co-founded in 2019 by IEEE SA, the Future Society, and ELONtech, the Roundtable was held virtually, from New York, under the patronage of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The mission of the Athens Roundtable is to advance the global dialogue on policy, practice, international cooperation, capacity-building and evidence-based instruments for the trustworthy adoption of AI in government, industry and society, under the prism of legal systems, the practice of law and regulatory compliance. The two-day event, which attracted more than 700 attendees, reviewed progress on the AI governance initiatives of key participating legislative, regulatory and non-regulatory bodies, exchanged views on emerging best practices, discussed the world’s most mature AI standards and certification initiatives, and examined those initiatives in the context of specific real-world AI applications.

The event featured prominent speakers from international regulatory and legislative bodies, industry, academia and civil society. There was consensus that, to protect our democracies, it is imperative to ensure the deployment of AI in ways that do not undermine the rule of law. The speakers agreed that the trustworthy adoption of artificial intelligence is predicated on a thorough examination of the effectiveness of AI systems and on constant review of their legal soundness, especially in high-risk domains. This is critical to ensure that societies capture the upsides of AI while minimising its downsides and risks. During the discussion, the use of algorithmic systems to support or even to fully assume the function of the decision-making process in legal questions directly affecting humans emerged as a key issue: ‘black box’ algorithms, possibly developed on the basis of potentially biased data, and with no clear chain of accountability should be considered as unacceptable. The representatives of all major international organisations agreed on the need for a strengthened working relationship between the EU, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UNESCO and the Council of Europe – as a critical success factor in establishing impactful governance frameworks and protocols leveraging the entire policy toolbox smartly from ‘self’ to ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ regulation.

In both her opening and closing remarks, STOA Chair Eva Kaili (S&D, Greece) highlighted that Europe should lead these efforts and pave the way for the establishment of a legal framework on human-centric AI that is similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and for the development of some commonly agreed metrics for ethical AI. In her view, the rule of law will have to be synonymous with governments and big corporations being prevented from using AI technologies to gain access to citizens’ sensitive personal data or from using perception manipulation techniques to that end. The panellists also agreed that enhanced algorithmic scrutiny is necessary, combined with a thorough assessment of the quality of such computer-based decision-supporting systems, with regard to their level of transparency, to the provision of a meaningful scheme of accountability and to assurance of minimisation of bias.

The discussion also focused on the various ways AI can be regulated, as well as on how algorithmic decision-making systems can be controlled and audited, including the methodologies needed to analyse automated systems for possible flaws and to identify common ways of risk calibration. Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden, recommended that the EU should closely cooperate with organisations like UNESCO to specify its ethical principles and should create, along with its transatlantic partners, equivalent systems of trust for all parts of society. Algorithmic bias in legal and judicial environments became a topic of discussion across almost all panels and most recommendations agreed on the necessity to build AI systems that are as diverse as our societies, given that technology can become a magnifier of social inequalities.

The speakers also emphasised the need to intensify efforts to regulate weaponised AI and reach an international agreement on definitional issues and the red lines that should be drawn when developing and deploying AI applications in critical domains. In several sessions, the issue of training and education to enhance algorithmic literacy was advanced as a key requirement for safeguarding citizens’ trust as well as for allowing users to exercise, in an meaningful way, their right to be forgotten, their right to an explanation when their data are being used for AI algorithms, and the right to redress against decisions made by AI systems. Several regulators also highlighted the mismatch between the traditional regulatory approach and the fast pace of technology developments in the domain of AI that point to the urgent need to introduce smart regulatory instruments, including ethical impact assessments.

In her concluding remarks, STOA Chair Eva Kaili underlined that a privacy-by-design and ethics-by-design approach should be followed throughout the entire lifecycle of AI systems, from their initial development to actual implementation especially in the legal domain. In a period of intense digital interdependence, where AI strategies and ethical principles are increasingly adopted at an organisational level worldwide, multi-stakeholder engagement, such as the Athens Roundtable, is critical to identifying and disseminating widely adopted practices for operationalising trustworthy AI.

The full recording of the meeting is available here.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/01/13/digital-revolution-and-legal-evolution-athens-roundtable-on-the-rule-of-law-and-artificial-intelligence/

The Twitter activity of members of the European Council

Written by Ralf Drachenberg,

© Adobe Stock

Over recent years, the members of the European Council have, in a number of landmark declarations such as the Bratislava Declaration, pointed to the need to improve communication with citizens, as part of the process of building greater trust and confidence in the European Union and its institutions. As social media, and notably Twitter, have become an important part of politicians’ communication strategy generally, this study looks specifically at how EU leaders in the European Council communicate on Europe via Twitter. The objective is to identify the EU topics they tweet about, outline the differences between the EU Heads of State or Government, and explore the ways in which they communicate and engage with their target audiences.

This study analyses 31 004 tweets by 34 EU Heads of State or Government, posted between January 2019 and June 2020. It shows that the use of Twitter by EU leaders as a communication tool is, on average, comparable to other international political leaders. However, the intensity of use of the platform still varies significantly among them. A similar variation exists for their tweets on European issues: for many, Europe represents a significant proportion of their overall Twitter activity; however, it appears that those who tweet most in general, mention EU issues considerably less proportionally.

One of the main findings is that, if communication is understood as ‘reporting on’, EU leaders certainly communicate frequently on Europe. They do this mainly in the context of events or meetings, including the European Council. However, a striking feature is apparent in the way individual EU leaders’ communicate on Europe via their Twitter accounts: as a general pattern, EU leaders inform people about, or report on, their various meetings, mentioning the main topics discussed, however, EU leaders do not generally explain Europe and the substance of what is going on within the EU institutions, nor do they outline their own positions and priorities or try to convince their audience of their position.

The study shows that the individual issues EU leaders tweet about most are ‘interactions between EU leaders’, followed by combined tweets on (before, during and after) European Council meetings; tweets on ‘interaction with EU representatives’ are also frequent. When grouping the individual issues together into clusters, the ‘policy’ areas which are by far most often the subject of tweets are external relations, the multiannual financial framework and climate issues, which in turn also shows that EU leaders often tweet about topics linked to specific national interests.

Almost all EU leaders announce upcoming European Council meetings, mentioning the main agenda points, but they also tweet about preparatory meetings between individual EU leaders, regional alliances (such as the Visegrád Four), and the meetings of their European political parties. Tweets regarding the European Council President are less frequent, with EU leaders instead tweeting more about other EU representatives (such as the European Commission President). Furthermore, examining Twitter activity over time shows peaks and downturns in the level of interest in a topic, closely connected to the occurrence of milestone events. Finally, there is a strong connection between the intensity of EU leaders’ Twitter activity on EU issues and whether they hold the rotating Council Presidency or not.

This analysis of EU leaders’ Twitter accounts provides a unique overview of their bilateral meetings and how they communicate about them via Twitter. Diversity is evident when looking at the amount of tweets dedicated to communicating on bilateral meetings, with some Heads of State or Government often issuing several tweets per meeting held and others not being nearly as active. Variances in tweeting on the same bilateral meetings are also evident and leaders who held fewer meetings were not always those from smaller Member States.

When examining the methods EU leaders apply to engage their Twitter audience, the analysis shows that most tweet primarily in their native language, indicating that their main target audience is at national level. However, when they want to put an important message across, many do translate their messages into other EU languages to reach beyond their own Member State. A few EU leaders also tweet mainly in English (as a non-native language), suggesting a more European target audience on Twitter. While hashtags are frequently used by nearly all EU leaders, many are linked to specific events or locations. The findings also show that, in general, the leaders’ EU-related tweets do not generate the same level of interaction (retweets and likes) from their audience as do their tweets on national issues.

Read the complete study on ‘The Twitter activity of members of the European Council‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/01/08/the-twitter-activity-of-members-of-the-european-council/

Ten issues to watch in 2021

Written by Etienne Bassot,

© Daniel Schludi on Unsplash; JFL Photography, 1STunningART, gustavofrazao, stasnds, Inna, Björn Wylezich, Olena, muratart, Premium Collection, and max dallocco on ©Adobe Stock; Wikimedia Commons | US Embassy Tel Aviv Creative Commons license

The year ahead of us is critical in many ways: 2021 is the first year of recovery after the coronavirus pandemic hit the world in 2020. In the five-year European political cycle, it is a year in which progress towards significant action and implementation are expected, after a first year generally more focused on declarations and planning. And global events and geopolitical tensions make it no less critical at international level.

To help us to understand Europe and the world at such a critical time, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has asked a dozen of its policy analysts to identify ten issues to watch in 2021, explaining why they matter and what we might expect in the year to come. With so many burning issues at stake in Europe and in the world, a selection of just ten is by definition subjective. Yet, it is the opportunity to place the spotlight on a series of topics selected for their obvious importance or original relevance.

This publication covers a broad spectrum of areas, most of which are affected directly or indirectly by the current coronavirus pandemic, reflecting how the crisis has impacted our lives and societies in nearly all their economic, social and cultural dimensions. The ten topics chosen include both issues that are at the very heart of the crisis – the vaccine race and economic recovery – and those that are starkly highlighted by it – such as access to food, discrimination, and the state of the performing arts – as well as some of the big background changes shaping the world we live in today – the digital, environmental and geo-political challenges ahead, from Europe’s borders to its transatlantic relationship. These ten issues echo some of the ten opportunities spotted for Europe post-coronavirus in our July 2020 publication exploring potential opportunities that the crisis might offer to improve policy for the future.

The central nature of the coronavirus crisis and its overall impact in terms of global responsibility, from vaccines for all to the climate objective, have logically inspired the written contributions as well as the visual representation of the ten issues on the cover of this publication.

In parallel with these issues, 2021 is also likely to be a year of profound reflection on the EU’s future through the Conference on the Future of Europe. The President of the European Commission launched the idea of a structured discussion through such a conference in her pre-election statement to the European Parliament in July 2019, encouraging the involvement of both European citizens and their elected representatives as part of a broader renewed impulse of European democracy. This idea was promptly endorsed by the Parliament, which made very precise and ambitious suggestions on the purpose, scope and composition of the conference in its resolution of 15 January 2020. The Commission went on to present its own somewhat less ‘ambitious’ vision, nevertheless largely converging with that of the Parliament. The Council too, while stressing the importance of the implementation of its Strategic Agenda and the respect of the institutions’ prerogatives, later joined the Parliament and the Commission in endorsing the involvement of national parliaments, citizens and civil society. Whilst the coronavirus crisis has delayed the signing of a joint declaration by the three institutions − after which the Conference may start − agreement seems to be close, even if the sensitive question of the Conference’s chair remains open.

At the start of this critical year, we hope that you will enjoy reading this latest edition of ‘Ten Issues to Watch’ and that it will stimulate you to reflection, and ignite your curiosity as you explore the challenges and opportunities of 2021.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Ten issues to watch in 2021‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/01/07/ten-issues-to-watch-in-2021/

Priority dossiers under the Portuguese EU Council Presidency

Written by Lucienne Attard (The Directorate-General for the Presidency),


EU Flag, one of the 12 stars bigger than the others and with the flag of Croatia inside. Portugal will hold the presidency of the Council of the Eropean Union for the period January to June 2021

© tanaonte / Adobe Stock

Portugal is a democratic republic with a unitary semi-presidential system of government, whereby the Prime Minister of Portugal is the head of government. The current Prime Minister is António Luís Santos da Costa, from the Socialist Party, and a former MEP who was a Vice-President of the European Parliament between July 2004 and March 2005.

The President of Portugal, Marcelo de Sousa, from the Social Democrat Party, is the executive head of state and has several significant political powers. Executive power is exercised by the President and the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Assembly of the Republic. The Judiciary of Portugal is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The political landscape is composed of several political parties, primarily the Socialist Party (PS) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD). Other parties are the Popular Party (PP), the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), the Left Bloc (BE) and the Green Ecologist Party (PEV). The Communists and the Greens are in coalition as the Unitary Democratic Coalition (UDC).

Portugal will hold the Presidency of the European Council for the fourth time from 1 January 2021. The last time it held the Presidency was in 2007, when the Treaty of Lisbon was signed on 13 December 2007. Portugal is part of the Trio also composed of Germany and Slovenia.

The Trio adopted a Declaration outlining the main areas of focus for their Trio, including democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as an economically strong EU based on growth and jobs and the social dimension. Likewise the three Member States pledged to work on the challenges of digitalisation, climate change and energy transition.

The Strategic Agenda 2019-2024 endorsed by the Member States at the European Council on 20 June 2019 will remain, however, a guiding instrument. The Agenda covers the protection of citizens’ freedoms; developing a strong and vibrant economic base; building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe; and promoting European interests and values on the global stage.


The Portuguese Presidency comes at a crucial time for the EU. Despite the difficulties around the agreement finally reached on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, the Portuguese Presidency will focus on the implementation of this agreement, together with the Next Generation EU recovery instrument. The latter is to be put in place to help deal with the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to the social and economic fabric of the EU. The European Parliament voted the agreed texts successfully on 16 December 2020, including the high-profile legislation on Rule of Law conditionality for access to EU funds for Member States. Portugal will now have the essential task of overseeing the implementation of both the MFF and the recovery instrument, to ensure that the resources of the multiannual budget and of the recovery plan are effectively on the ground from January 2021. A large number of MFF sectoral programmes, being negotiated by the two co-legislators, will also need to be finalised during the Portuguese Presidency.

A second important priority relates to Brexit. With agreement reached on the future relationship with the UK just before the end of the transition period in December 2020, it will fall to the Portuguese Presidency to execute the agreement and ensure its formal conclusion thus moving beyond the current provisional application.

On the Conference on the Future of Europe, while work could not start due to Covid-19, the Portuguese Presidency is expected to work further on progressing this initiative.

The Portuguese Presidency is set to organise its programme around five main pillars:

  • Resilient Europe
  • Social Europe
  • Green Europe
  • Digital Europe, and
  • Global Europe

I. Resilient Europe

In line with the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2021, the Presidency will give priority to the Action Plan for Economic and Monetary Union. To this end, ensuring that the recovery in the aftermath of Covid-19 reaches the whole of society is crucial, together with a strengthening of the sustainability of Europe’s banks and capital markets. Amongst the relevant proposals that the European Commission will announce, are the completion of the Banking Union, Sustainable corporate governance and deepening the Capital Markets Union.

The European Commission has also announced a new Consumer Agenda Strategy running until 2024. According to the Commission Work Programme, the new strategy will align consumer protection with today’s realities, notably cross-border and online transactions. It will allow consumers to make informed choices and play an active role in the ecological and digital transitions. The Portuguese Presidency is set to focus on this new Agenda during its mandate.

One other key initiative of the European Commission, on which the Presidency plans to focus, is the initiative on Boosting sustainable tourism development and capacity of tourism SMEs, through transnational cooperation and knowledge transfer. The specific objective of the action is to develop and put in place transnational and cross-sectoral support schemes to build capacity for sustainable growth of SMEs in the tourism sector.

The new Pact on migration and asylum, composed of 11 legislative proposals, will also feature prominently during the Portuguese Presidency. Some of the proposals, dating back to 2016, had already been negotiated and approached provisional agreement between the two co-legislators, but they were left pending due to deeply divergent views at Member States’ level on the revision of the Dublin Regulation.

Also as part of the Resilient Europe pillar, the Portuguese Presidency will focus on the European Democracy Action Plan. The purpose of the action plan is to ensure that citizens are able to participate in the democratic system through informed decision-making, free from unlawful interference and manipulation. The action plan will also build on the lessons learnt from the Covid‑19 crisis and include measures on electoral integrity, media freedom, media pluralism and disinformation.

On cybersecurity, a legislative proposal was adopted in December, reviewing the directive on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive), building on the recent proposal establishing the European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre and the Network of National Coordination Centres. The Portuguese Presidency has announced its intention to push forward these proposals.

II. Social Europe

A Social Europe will be the hallmark of the Portuguese Presidency, with the implementation of the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights as a major priority. Already in the pipeline is the proposal on Fair minimum wages for workers in the EU (2020/0310(COD)). Likewise important for the Presidency, is the Child Guarantee scheme, which is an initiative to ensure that all children in Europe who are at risk of poverty, social exclusion, or are otherwise disadvantaged, have access to essential services of good quality. It will recommend that EU countries invest in and develop strategies and action plans to ensure that children in need have access to free or affordable services.

Depending on the progress achieved in the ongoing trilogues, the proposal on Social Security Coordination (2016/0397(COD)) could also be part of this impetus given by the Presidency for a Social Europe.

A Social Summit will be organised in the city of Porto, in May 2021, ideally in physical format, to bring together all the initiatives promoting a Social Europe.

III. Green Europe

The implementation of the European Green Deal, as announced by the European Commission, is a primary goal of all European institutions. To this end, the climate transition must be just and inclusive, while enabling the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The Portuguese Presidency has identified the following initiatives as priorities during its six-month term: climate law, circular economy, blue economy and hydrogen strategy as well as a new strategy for forests and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The European Commission will adopt the following proposals during the course of 2021:

  • Framework for achieving climate neutrality (2020/0036(COD)),
  • the Fit for 55 package which includes the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System, Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, Effort-sharing Regulation, revision of the Regulation on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry, revision of the Energy Tax Directive and of the Directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, and reducing methane emissions in the energy sector
  • Biodiversity and toxic-free environment, and
  • Sustainable and smart mobility

IV. Digital Europe

The fourth pillar of the Portuguese Presidency focuses on the Digital Services Act, which the Commission adopted just before the end of 2020. The Commission is also expected to adopt a European Approach to Artificial Intelligence.

e-Privacy on the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications (2017/0003(COD)) is a proposal that has been on the table since 2017 and which the Presidency hopes to push towards completion.

V. Global Europe

Prime Minister Costa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India have agreed that an EU-India summit in the course of the Portuguese Presidency would be appropriate and timely. The Portuguese Presidency has committed to holding such a summit during its Presidency with a view to furthering collaboration and joining forces so that, in their own words, a safer world, based on shared prosperity and the defence of democracy, prevails.

The Portuguese Presidency will also organise an Eastern Partnership Summit, in March 2021. The last summit took place on 18 June 2020, via video conference, and it was then agreed that the Parties would endorse a joint declaration, on five policy priorities, at the next year’s summit.

Read this briefing on ‘Priority dossiers under the Portuguese EU Council Presidency‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2021/01/04/priority-dossiers-under-the-portuguese-eu-council-presidency/

What if blockchain could guarantee ethical AI?

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

© Adobe Stock

Blockchain has the potential to promote compliance with traditional ethical principles, especially in the fields of healthcare, supply chain management and food safety. As artificial intelligence (AI) companies and other organisations seek ways to comply with ethical principles and requirements, blockchain could be seen as a means to ensure that AI is deployed in an ethically sound manner, under certain specific conditions.

Blockchains are open, decentralised ledgers that record transactions between two parties without the need for third-party authentication. Their ability to ensure that data are secure, well-protected and reliable, and thus can be shared in a secure and auditable manner, mean that blockchain applications are being used in a growing number of domains, such as healthcare management, cross-border payments and supply chain monitoring. Their implementation raises ethical concerns about security vulnerabilities, environmental impact – given the high amount of computing power needed, accountability, privacy and the apparent enabling of cybercrime. Various policy initiatives have been launched to address these challenges in the form of ethical design frameworks, guiding principles and the Blockchain Code of Ethics. At the same time, blockchain has emerged lately as a carrier of ethical values that could resolve societal challenges of high ethical import in several domains. Can the intrinsic features of blockchain technology help AI developers comply with the multiplicity of ethical demands in their field and in effect contribute to the ethical design and deployment of AI applications?

Potential impacts and developments

Blockchain technology has the potential to create ethical value by creating more transparent and traceable food supply chains to tackle major challenges such as unethical labour practices and environmental degradation. Its ethical value also lies in its ability to provide for secured proof of origin and ethical sourcing. It can also facilitate the sharing of medical data via the automation of some aspects of consent and data collection. Beyond the indirect effects of blockchain on the achievement of certain ethical aims within specific policy domains, this emerging technology appears to offer the means to facilitate the compliance of AI, in its various manifestations, with ethical principles and human rights standards.

It is well known that the quality, accuracy and representative nature of the data needed to train algorithms and develop human-centric machine learning models is central to the ethical soundness of AI applications. However, as there is no oversight mechanism and no standard methodologies to review the fairness of these algorithms or the privacy-friendly nature of the data analytics used, multiple calls have been made for the development of ethics standards and frameworks. The opacity of algorithmic operations and the use of self-learning algorithms for predictive policing, social security or diagnostics is currently at the epicentre of the ethical debate at EU level.

This is precisely where blockchain technologies can play an important role in helping AI applications and systems be designed and implemented in an ethically sound manner. One of the main advantages of blockchain lies in its ability to ensure that data are secure, private, reliable and valid, and thus personal data are not compromised. Therefore, blockchain enables cooperative and safe data-sharing, by cryptographically ensuring the trustworthiness of data. It may therefore be seen as a way to enable users to share their data with trusted stakeholders before the data are collected and processed by powerful AI systems in the context of specific decentralised AI platforms. In other words, the introduction of decentralised blockchain solutions in the context of AI may facilitate the removal of false or incorrect data sets, strengthen the privacy-friendly nature of AI data infrastructure and, essentially, contribute to its ethical design and deployment.

Given that blockchain can operate as a transparency machine where its users are assured that the data stored, on a datapoint-by-datapoint basis, have not been tampered with through the use of cryptographic hashing, digital signatures or smart contracts, it can increase the trust that is so necessary in the field of AI. Transparency is in fact one of the seven ethical requirements put forward by the High-Level Expert Group on AI and endorsed by the European Commission. This is also a necessary step to promote and protect the principle of explicability: the need for AI processes to be transparent and explainable.

As blockchain technologies offer users a detailed view of how data are being used, the introduction of these properties into the AI context could potentially help developers to design human-centric and responsible algorithms, and citizens to exercise their right to explanation and to effective remedy. In fact, allowing advanced AI models and large datasets to be widely shared, updated and re-trained could boost trust in algorithmic decision-making systems.

Moreover, blockchain’s traceability and data integrity features and its capacity to operate in a decentralised manner could be crucial in ensuring that the data used in AI systems are reliable, of high quality and bias-free. Blockchain’s use of immutable records of all the data, variables, and processes used by AI for its algorithmic decision-making processes could enable decision-makers in the field of AI to audit the main tenets of the systems/applications used, review and diversify datasets, set aside data that could lead to false negatives, and identify biased algorithms. That could eventually enable AI applications to be viewed as reliable sources of information and knowledge that could not develop any discriminatory or manipulative effects via deep fakes or predictive behaviour algorithms.

As a result, the accessibility and transparency qualities of blockchain programming, making it possible to audit all steps of the process – from data entry to processing outcomes – could serve as a solid basis for demystifying AI, enhancing the ethical nature of algorithmic decision-making systems and solving the AI black box problem through transparency and algorithmic impact assessments. That way, blockchain, by being publicly auditable, would help the public understand machine learning decisions, thus increasing the explainability of AI systems. Blockchain’s recording properties can help AI users and decision-makers trace, review and reframe all variables that feed into decisions made on the basis of machine-learning procedures.

Last but not least, not only could blockchain’s ability to operate without intermediaries prevent data manipulation, it could also allow small AI companies to obtain trustworthy data directly from their creators through decentralised blockchain data networks. This is particularly important for the ethical development of AI, as blockchain programming can also create an incentive system that could encourage users to contribute and share their data. Such a system could, in effect, enhance the robustness and fairness of data models, strengthen the quality of algorithmic data sets and bring forward a paradigm shift in the ethical governance of AI applications.

Anticipatory policy-making

As the issue of AI ethics has become a key part of discussions on governance and regulatory control of this transformative technology at both organisational and policy-making levels, new and creative ways need to be found to secure the efficient operationalisation of commonly agreed ethical principles. That requires not only the development of practical implementation guidance but also the employment of new tools.

Blockchain, due to its specific design qualities, can become part of ethical problem-solving in the field of AI in various ways. As legislators across the world seek ways to identify the sources and address the effects of data bias in the context of AI, and to introduce a proportionate risk assessment and management framework, blockchain architecture can become an integral element in the ethics-by-design approach. This concept has been proposed repeatedly by the European Parliament and was also reflected in its recent resolution on the framework of ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies.

In the light of the Commission’s upcoming legislative proposal on the control of AI and the recently proposed data governance act, the regulatory features of blockchain could offer numerous advantages, including anonymisation, enhanced data security, immutability, and consensus-driven tools. Its integration into the AI world could provide developers and users alike with an ecosystem of modalities and features that would enhance the effective implementation of ethical requirements and principles and, in effect, increase public trust in AI systems. Given the potential benefits of the introduction of blockchain properties into AI platforms, the establishment of EU-wide hybrid pilot platforms that could facilitate the convergence of AI and blockchain architectures could unleash the potential of blockchain as an ethical game-changer in the field of AI.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if blockchain could guarantee ethical AI?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/12/26/what-if-blockchain-could-guarantee-ethical-ai/

What if AI could improve thermal imaging, to help fight coronavirus?

Written by Mihalis Kritikos,

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Thermal imaging cameras have been widely installed in recent months in office buildings, hospitals, shopping malls, schools and airports as a means of detecting people with fever-like symptoms. Given their capacity to perform temperature checks from a distance, they have been seen as an effective means to limit the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus. Looking beyond manual temperature checking, this note provides an overview of the use of thermal-imaging empowered with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, its suitability in the context of the current pandemic and the core technical advantages and limitations of this technology. The main legal responses and ethical concerns related to the use of AI in the context of thermal imaging at entry points, to identify and triage people who may have elevated temperatures, are also examined.

Infrared thermal-imaging cameras can measure radiated energy emitted from the human skin in a contactless, safe and fast manner. Adding machine-learning capabilities allows them to survey large groups of people at points of entry in an inexpensive, non-invasive way and to process their temperatures in seconds in the context of the current pandemic. Within this context, AI-enhanced thermal imaging cameras are currently being used in sensitive locations around the world to spot those who may have a symptom of the virus. Is general fever measurement through thermal cameras an effective means to tackle Covid‑19? Are these cameras designed or sufficiently operationally mature to operate as medical devices or diagnostic tests? Should we consider the possible legal and ethical implications related to the use of these cameras, especially when paired with facial recognition software and movement-predictive algorithms? Are employees and passengers aware of their data protection rights, including their right to rectification as well as their right to benefit from a second measurement?

Potential impacts and developments

AI-based thermal-imaging technology allows for fast and scalable screening of employees and travellers, from a distance, while they are moving, and without asking individuals to queue for individual checks. It can identify potential Covid‑19 carriers by automating and streamlining the monitoring of an individual’s temperature, simplifying and standardising record-keeping, and by reducing the need for invasive or potentially error-prone manual tracking procedures.

The integration of optimised algorithms for fever detection and facial-detection algorithms, as well as mask wearing detection functions, in thermal cameras allows them to  recognise human faces obscured by masks and glasses and distinguish faces from nearby objects in real time by excluding other heat sources. Through the use of machine-learning algorithms, automated recalibration procedures and AI-powered statistical analytics, thermal imaging can achieve high measurement speed and accurate temperature screening of up to 95 %. The incorporation of advanced AI image-processing and video-analytics algorithms not only allows the detection of elevated skin temperature in high-traffic public places through quick multiple target screening but also facilitates the emission of automatic alerts to security personnel. The integration of accurate mask-on face-recognition functionalities in thermal-imaging cameras is currently being tested in the United States of America, Israel, China and several Latin American countries.

Some authorities are now able to identify patients with an elevated temperature, revisit their location history through automated analyses of closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, and provide audio and visual notification of temperature-screening passes and failures. London Heathrow Airport has used the technology to carry out large-scale passenger temperature checks, whereas Los Angeles International Airport has begun piloting thermal-imaging cameras that can detect fever in travellers. The installation of these cameras in entry points could reduce bottlenecks and delays, screen dozens or hundreds of people without the latter violating social distancing requirements, but also requiring less manpower for temperature checks.

At the same time however, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization (WHO) have concluded that thermal screening of passengers is a ‘high-cost, low-efficiency measure‘. There is little evidence of its effectiveness and accuracy in detecting and mitigating Covid‑19 cases, given that temperature is a bad proxy for having the disease. In addition, these measuring devices are sometimes not very accurate when used in high-traffic areas, where several individuals are moving in different directions at once, while being presented to the camera from different distances and at different angles.

Moreover, scanning may not detect people with early-stage illness, asymptomatic illness, those with symptoms that do not include fever, or those who take medicines to reduce their temperature. The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has noted that thermal cameras are not a reliable way to detect if people have the virus whereas the US Food and Drug Administration has concluded that, despite their multiple advantages, are not effective at determining if someone definitively has Covid-19.

Anticipatory policy-making

In view of the absence of a common international standard for health-screening at airports and workplace locations, the use of thermal-screening cameras triggers questions about their compliance with ISO 13154, which sets the standard for deployment and implementation, and operational guidelines for identifying febrile humans using a screening thermograph, as well as with IEC 80601-2-59:2017 requirements for the basic safety and essential performance of screening thermographs for human febrile temperature screening.

Do temperature checks using AI-assisted thermal cameras constitute processing of personal data wholly or partly by automated means within the meaning of Article 2(5) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? Is the use of cameras to perform mass checks justified under the duty of care of the employer towards employees and proportionate under data protection and human rights laws? Is temperature-related data going to be analysed along with other biometric identifiers?

Many European Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), including in Belgium, France, Czechia, the Netherlands and Poland, have made a series of recommendations that range from absolute prohibition of their use for triaging people, to allowing thermal scanning under specific conditions. Such conditions include an analysis of the data life cycle and the verification that there is no recording of thermal images in accordance with the orientations on body temperature checks in the context of the Covid‑19 crisis that were recently issued by the European Data Protection Supervisor. An assessment of this kind should take account of the necessity, proportionality and effectiveness of this technological solution and provide for meaningful human involvement.

Beyond privacy concerns, the gradual installation of AI-enhanced thermal-imaging cameras enabled by facial recognition technology as a fever-detection tool in public spaces raises questions about their effects on the civil liberties of travellers and employees alike including questions of surveillance creep, namely the collection of biometric data beyond the current emergency context. The gradual introduction of this technology in airports and office buildings to proactively detect an elevated temperature also raises questions about what happens when people are detected as having fever, especially in cases of false positives:

Can they be banned from the airport or their workplace? Are robust safeguards in place to verify the technical accuracy of these public health measures, including meaningful human overview and control of the system? Are ethically and legally sound standardised technical protocols in place that could prescribe additional tests and temperature checks, data verification, and robust data protection safeguards?

In view of the novelty and possible limitations of the technological solutions being proposed, it would seem reasonable that any remote temperature-screening finding should be accompanied by secondary temperature screening, temperature checks by a healthcare professional and health questionnaires, and should be directed by public health guidance. They should be viewed as only one layer of protection in the context of the wider ecosystem of public-health emergency responses to the current pandemic.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if AI could improve thermal imaging, to help fight coronavirus?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/12/25/what-if-ai-could-improve-thermal-imaging-to-help-fight-coronavirus/

What if technology and culture combined to boost a green recovery?

Written by Vadim Kononenko,

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Technological innovation has always been an indispensable part of recovery from economic, social and environmental crises. Technology is often diametrically opposed to matters of aesthetics and culture. Yet historical experience and foresight suggest that in times of recovery technology and culture can combine to create a virtuous feedback loop. This could facilitate the EU’s post-pandemic recovery and also help tackle the potentially disruptive effects of the ‘green transition’.

With its current European Green Deal plan, the EU is striving to achieve climate neutrality in its economy by 2050 and, simultaneously, set itself on the path to recovery from the adverse effects of the global pandemic. Technology will inevitably play a significant part in this process. However, history also suggests that culture and aesthetics have a significant role to play in recovery from a crisis, be it war, economic recession or an epidemic.

Well-known artistic and architectural movements such as the Renaissance, Romanticism and Neo-Classicism came about in direct or indirect response to various shocks in Europe, for example, the plague of the 13th century, the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, and political upheavals of the 19th century. Most recently, the 20th-century modernist movement was spearheaded by the recovery from the two world wars and skyrocketing post-war economic growth. None of these cultural movements developed autonomously from technology, however. Modernism, for example, was underpinned by the invention of steel and concrete construction techniques.

Potential impacts and developments

It is logical to assume that the EUs unprecedented green transition to a carbon-free economy will be accompanied by new technologies and also, perhaps, a new cultural movement. Some policies featuring cultural and technological aspects have emerged in recent years, in the form of the Davos Declaration and Baukultur and, most recently, the New European Bauhaus initiative of the European Commission. Yet the question remains: how can technology and culture align to further a green post-pandemic recovery in Europe, particularly given the extreme negative impacts of the pandemic on the cultural sector?

Among the many pertinent aspects of the interconnected dynamics of technology and culture, two in particular stand out:

  • There is a disruptive side to every recovery, as the many accompanying changes leave ‘stranded assets’ in their wake: investments that prematurely lose their value. Rapidly changing technology is often a factor that contributes to this phenomenon. For example, recovery from the Great Depression was closely related to the rise of the automobile industry, leading to the decline of American urban city centres. The green recovery, which is based on renewable energy technologies, is generating different kinds of stranded assets, for example, coal mines and pipelines or the beautiful but single-glazed windows of historical buildings. The rapid rise in teleworking is leaving a massive amount of unused office space as stranded assets. Culture could be the answer in cases such as these. To match the circular economy, a new aesthetic of car-free urbanism and ‘green and blue‘ cities is emerging. Likewise, re‑purposing old coal plants and empty office buildings into green neighbourhood and museum clusters is an increasingly popular and effective solution. In this regard, culture is helping to tackle the social impacts of technological disruption.
  • Conversely, culture itself can benefit from technological change. This has been seen during the pandemic, in which digital technologies have greatly aided the creative sector. Museums, concert halls and other cultural institutions have taken to live-streaming, online events, and open access to digital material. It is likely that these technologies will continue to serve the cultural sector in the recovery phase as well. However, the question is how sustainable this online content is, both for the economic survival of institutions and creators, and for the alignment of digital technologies with environmental targets.

Overall, however, both culture and technology have the potential to open up opportunities for sustainable and inclusive recovery. According to a recent analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), cities and regions should consider the cultural and creative sectors and cultural participation as drivers of both economic and social advancement.

Anticipatory policy-making

When it comes to maximising the effectiveness of the contribution of technology and culture, anticipatory policy-making is key. In recent years, future-oriented strategic thinking has proliferated in new cultural domains, including architecture, design, and heritage. Foresight in these cultural domains can help policy-makers design policies to aid the green recovery. As far as the technology–culture nexus is concerned, anticipatory policy-making could explore the following three areas:

Citizen-centred approach: People’s collective memories, beliefs and attitudes to particular aesthetics constitute what anthropologists call ‘tacit culture’. It functions as a link between function and form, and appears to transcend political preference, age and ethnicity. For example, a recent poll suggests that 75 % of Americans prefer a classical style in public buildings, whereas only 25 % prefer a modernist style. Another study examining the views of hospital patients in Europe and Japan showed a consensus across countries on what people consider important in terms of the aesthetics of a hospital environment. This means that when working out policies on how buildings should be retrofitted to be rendered climate-neutral and how cities need to change according to circular economy principles, policy-makers would benefit from considering these tacit cultural trends and consulting widely on citizens’ aesthetic preferences. A useful step towards citizens’ dialogues would be the inclusion of cultural and heritage-oriented themes in the Conference on the Future of Europe process.

Strategic foresight and impact assessment: As EU policy-making is currently undergoing a profound embedding of foresight and impact assessment into its workings, culture remains somewhat overlooked. The current Better Regulation guidelines list environmental, social and economic impacts as the most important, with increased attention being directed towards the impact on the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs). As culture and heritage are at the heart of the SDGs, there is room for a more robust assessment of European added value in the fields of culture and heritage. Useful work has been done in this regard by Unesco, putting heritage impact assessment (HIA) on a par with the more widely used environmental impact assessment (EIA). The impact of new technologies in the cultural sector, such as digitalisation and AI, could be improved with the aid of such assessment.

Culture as innovation: As the OECD report notes, cultural institutions have difficulties gaining recognition as an innovative sector and accessing support measures that are typically reserved for more technological forms of innovation. While many innovations in the cultural sector do include technology – digitalisation, for example – there are other forms of innovation that are based on creative content. Examples include projects in which citizens ‘adopt’ a monument, social-media projects that popularise sustainable renovation and cultural heritage among young people, and grassroots non-profit cooperatives that promote and facilitate the salvage and reuse of construction materials.

Read this ‘at a glance’ on ‘What if technology and culture combined to boost a green recovery?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/12/24/what-if-technology-and-culture-combined-to-boost-a-green-recovery/

The public sector loan facility under the Just Transition Mechanism [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Sidonia Mazur and Christiaan Van Lierop (1st edition),

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The public sector loan facility is the third pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM), along with the Just Transition Fund and just transition scheme under Invest EU. The facility will consist of a grant and a loan component. With the contribution of €1.525 billion for the grant component from the Union budget and EIB lending of €10 billion from its own resources, the aim is for the public sector loan facility to mobilise between €25 and 30 billion in public investment over the 2021-2027 period. Funding will be available to all Member States, while focusing on the regions with the biggest transition challenges. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) have joint responsibility for this file. Their report was adopted at a joint sitting of the two committees on 16 October 2020. Parliament subsequently confirmed the committees’ mandate to open trilogue negotiations.

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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/12/23/the-public-sector-loan-facility-under-the-just-transition-mechanism-eu-legislation-in-progress/