Leadership vacancy stalls EU AI office development

The AI Office, housed within the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology, is currently undergoing reorganization to accommodate its establishment.

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Two months after the European Parliament passed the landmark AI Act, the EU Commission office responsible for its implementation remains understaffed and leaderless. Although such a pace is common for public institutions, stakeholders worry it may delay the enactment of the hundreds of pages of the AI Act, especially with some parts coming into effect by the end of the year.

The EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content, and Technology (DG Connect), which houses the AI Office, is undergoing a reorganisation. Despite reassurances from officials that preparations are on track, concerns persist about the office’s limited budget, slow hiring process, and the overwhelming workload on the current staff. Three Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have expressed dissatisfaction with the transparency and progress of the recruitment and leadership processes.

The European Commission has identified 64 deliverables for the AI Office, prohibiting certain AI uses set to take effect by the year’s end. Codes of practice for general-purpose models, such as ChatGPT, will be developed within nine months of the legislation’s enactment. Despite recent recruitment efforts, including two positions opened in March and additional roles for lawyers and AI ethicists soon to be advertised, the hiring process is expected to take several more months.

Why does it matter?

A significant question remains regarding the leadership of the AI Office. The Commission has yet to announce candidates or details of the selection process. Speculation has arisen around MEP Dragoș Tudorache, who has been active in AI policy and is not seeking re-election. However, he has not confirmed any plans post-tenure. The Commission aims to finalise the office’s staffing and leadership to ensure the smooth implementation of the AI Act.