The EEA EFTA States welcome the Commission's communications on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and on the data economy and support the vision that Europe should become a leading role model for a society empowered by data. Furthermore, the EEA EFTA States support the aim to create a single European data space and call on the Commission to include the EEA EFTA States in all future activities related to building the European data economy.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have submitted a joint EEA EFTA Comment on the European Commission’s White Paper on AI and the European strategy for data. The AI and data strategies are considered key components of the new framework for Europe’s digital future, and are also essential to relaunch and modernise the economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public consultations on the two strategies have been open from 19 February until 31 May. The Commission later extended the deadline for the AI consultation until 14 June.
The rapid growth in computing power, combined with recent advances in algorithms and the availability of vast amounts of data offer huge opportunities for consumers, companies and the public sector in Europe. Data-driven solutions and AI-based technology can improve the inclusion of citizens, create new lines of business, accelerate the green transition and enhance services across sectors from education and health care to transport and energy. However, in order to unleash the full potential of data and AI within the European Economic Area, while preserving fundamental rights and common European values, cooperation and coordination of policy at European level is essential.
In their Comment, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway emphasise the need to uphold the principles and enforce the rules underpinning free flow of data within the extended digitalised Single Market. In this regard they strike a note of caution when considering large cloud federations, which may work to the detriment of smaller cloud service providers and impede true free flow of data in the EU/EEA. The EEA EFTA States also consider the work the EU is doing to mitigate concerns regarding third-country legislation on access to data, in particular the US CLOUD Act, as important to increase the uptake of cloud computing.
While the EEA EFTA States welcome proposals for a number of data spaces within different sectors, they note there may be a need for somewhat stricter prioritisation.
“In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the health data space seems to be the number one priority. A common European mobility data space could make an important contribution to the European Green Deal. Data spaces for public administration should support the Single Digital Gateway Regulation, providing the platform for realising the "once-only" principle in practice. The EEA EFTA States would also suggest that the Commission considers creating a data space for the marine and maritime sector,” they conclude in the Comment.
With regard to a new regulatory framework for AI, the EEA EFTA States share the view of the Commission that many of the issues relating to AI are already covered by existing legislation and support the risk-based approach to the possible regulation of an emerging technology.
The submission of Comments on important policy issues is one way the EEA EFTA States contribute to decision shaping through the EEA Agreement.
Read the full text of the EEA EFTA Comment here.
A full list of EEA EFTA Comments is available here.
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