EU lawmakers approve world-first comprehensive AI regulation

Members of the European Parliament approved the AI Act today with a very strong majority.

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Today, 13 March, the lawmakers of the 27-nation bloc passed the EU AI Act with 523 votes in favour, 46 against, and 49 abstentions, establishing guidelines for regulating AI systems through a risk-based approach. The European AI legislation is the first comprehensive set of rules for AI in the world.
‘Europe is NOW a global standard-setter in AI. We are regulating as little as possible—but as much as needed!’ said the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton on X.

Why does it matter?

The new law aims to regulate AI systems according to a risk-based approach. Initiated in 2021, the EU AI Act categorises AI systems into risk levels ranging from ‘unacceptable’ (resulting in its ban) to high, medium, and low threat. The Act, which required final ratification from Parliament following political and technical approval, is now expected to enter into force in May after final reviews and endorsement from the European Council. Its provision will start taking effect in stages:

  • 6 months later: countries will be required to ban prohibited AI systems
  • 1 year later: rules for general-purpose AI systems will start applying
  • Under the current timeline, full implementation will come in 2026.

Dragos Tudorache, a Romanian EU lawmaker involved in the negotiations on the AI legislation, stressed on X that the major challenge remains execution. He added, ‘The AI Act is not the end of the journey but, rather, the starting point for a new model of governance built around technology. We must now focus our political energy on turning it from the law in the books to the reality on the ground.’ Many legal professionals characterised the AI Act as a significant milestone in global AI policy that could inspire other nations to follow suit, leading to another ‘Brussels Effect.’