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What you need to know

In brief

As part of our commitment to keep you updated on the incipient field of AI-Regulation, we would like to direct your attention to a new development: On 24 January 2024, the EU Commission released its Decision establishing the European Artificial Intelligence Office (“AI Office“). This client alert focuses on the integration timeline, jurisdiction and scope of the AI Office, alongside lingering questions yet to be addressed.


Contents

  1. Key developments
    1. Integration and timeline
  2. Jurisdiction and scope
  3. Questions yet to be answered
  4. Outlook

Key developments

Integration and timeline

The AI Office, integral to enforcing the AI Act, is set to be integrated into the Commission, featuring a separate budget line. The Decision establishing the AI Office will enter into force on 21 February 2024, preceding the formal adoption of the EU AI Act. This underscores a swift and committed approach to effective AI regulation.

Jurisdiction and scope

  • Enforcement

The AI Office will serve as a linchpin, supporting national authorities in the enforcement of the AI Act. Its primary focus lies in monitoring and policing General Purpose AI (GPAI) models and systems, the most potent types of AI so far.

  • GPAI models oversight

The AI office will develop methodologies and benchmarks for evaluating GPAI models, in particular for very large GPAI models with systemic risks.

  • Investigative powers

The AI Office will be imbued with investigative authority, allowing it to address possible infringements of regulations related to GPAI systems. This includes collecting complaints, issuing document requests, conducting evaluations, and requesting enforcement measures to mitigate violations.

  • Support and coordination

The AI Office will facilitate information exchange and collaboration between national authorities, collecting notifications and establishing information platforms and databases. It will further assist the Commission in issuing further Decisions as well as guidance and guideline documents.

Questions yet to be answered

  • Autonomy and objectives

Questions surrounding the autonomy of the AI Office persist. Clarification is needed on whether it will have independent political objectives or function as a extension of the unit responsible for the AI Act.

  • Financing

While the AI Office will have a separate budget line, it is yet unclear how big its allocated budget will be. The impact of the Digital Europe Programme on the AI Office´s financing remains to be seen.

Outlook

While a few points remain unclear, the EU is taking significant steps not just regarding oversight and enforcement support for the national authorities, but also in order to facilitate information exchange and collaboration.

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Your dedicated team at Baker McKenzie is here to help you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of AI regulation.

Author

Anahita Thoms heads Baker McKenzie's International Trade Practice in Germany and is a member of our EMEA Steering Committee for Compliance & Investigations. Anahita is Global Lead Sustainability Partner for our Industrials, Manufacturing and Transportation Industry Group. She serves as an Advisory Board Member in profit and non-profit organizations, such as Atlantik-Brücke, and is an elected National Committee Member at UNICEF Germany. She has served for three consecutive terms as the ABA Co-chair of the Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Committee and as the ABA Vice-Chair of the International Human Rights Committee. Anahita has also been an Advisory Board Member (Beirätin) of the Sustainable Finance Advisory Council of the German Government.

Anahita has won various accolades for her work, including 100 Most Influential Women in German Business (manager magazin), Top Lawyer (Wirtschaftswoche), Winner of the Strive Awards in the category Sustainability, Pioneer in the area of sustainability (Juve), International Trade Lawyer of the Year (Germany) 2020 ILO Client Choice Awards, Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, Capital 40 under 40, International Trade Lawyer of the Year (New York) 2016 ILO Client Choice Awards. In 2023, Handelsblatt recognized her as one of Germany’s Dealmaker and “most sought after advisors of the country” in the field of sustainability.

Author

Dr. Alexander Ehrle is a member of the Firm's International Trade Practice in Baker McKenzie's Berlin office. Alexander studied law at the Universities of Heidelberg, Montpellier (France), Mainz, Munich and New York (NYU) specializing in Public International and European Law. He worked as advisor and member of a delegation of a developing country at the United Nations before qualifying for the German bar. He spent his clerkship with the Higher Regional Court in Berlin, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin and Tokyo as well as an international law firm in Frankfurt and Milan. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the structural changes of public international law and their conceptualization in academic discourse basing his research on the governance of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Alexander is admitted to practice in Germany and New York. 

Alexander co-chairs the Business & Human Rights Committee of the American Bar Association’s International Law Section and has been recognized as one of 40 under 40 lawyers worldwide for foreign investment control by the Global Competition Review.

Author

Kimberley Fischer is a member of the International Trade Practice in Baker McKenzie's Berlin office. She joined the Firm in 2022. Kimberley studied law at the Ruprecht Karls University of Heidelberg and the Universidad de Deusto (Spain), with a focus on public international law and human rights. Prior to joining the Firm, Kimberley completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main, the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and at an international law firm in Brussels and Frankfurt am Main. She also gained significant experience in public (international) law as a research assistant at the University of Heidelberg and at a reputable law firm.

Author

Caroline Walka is an Associate in Baker McKenzie, Berlin office

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