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The special April edition

Dear reader,

Welcome to Publyon’s Digital Policy Update. We are happy to provide you with insights on the latest EU policy trends and developments every month. The month of April is all about special days – Easter, Eid-al-Fitr, Passover, April Fool’s Day, Enrico-Letta-publishes-his-Single-Market-report-Day – and a very important week: the very final plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (For those of you who have the monthly EU Digital Policy Update issuance marked in your agenda, this final plenary explains why our EU Digital Policy Update is being sent out one week later than usual this month).

Below, you will find all you need to know on this month’s special days, including updates on the AI Act, cyber files and the Interoperable Europe Act. We at Publyon had two special days of our own, as we exchanged with MEP Brando Benifei, co-rapporteur on the AI Act, and Hans Graux, founder of law office Timelex, to discuss not the future of the European Single Market, but the future of AI regulation. Jump to the end of this newsletter to find out more – and where to meet our colleagues!


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The spotlight

The spotlight

International Haiku Poetry Day: (Digital) Future, European Single Market

On 17 April, the world celebrates International Haiku Poetry Day. The Shakespeare of Haiku Poetry, Matsuo Bashō, wrote the following famous lines ‘A caterpillar, this deep in fall – still not a butterfly’. On that same day, Enrico Letta, former Italian Prime Minister, published a 147-page haiku of his own, entitled ‘Much more than a market’. If you read closely, both authors talk about the future of the Single Market.

More than three decades ago, the EU launched the Single Market, an integrated market between the Member States which enables the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. Despite being a solid foundation for European unity and values, driving economic growth, prosperity, and solidarity across the continent, the Single Market is struggling today to adapt to the ever-changing European and global context, putting it at risk of being ill-prepared to address current challenges and maintain competitiveness.

On the one hand, the Letta Report outlines the existing political vision of the European Single Market. On the other hand, the report presents practical policy recommendations, concluding with suggestions for the next EU Strategic Agenda for 2024-2029. The report identifies areas for improvement within the Single Market, aiming to develop a new Single Market to bridge innovation gaps between the EU and its competitors, by channelling public and private investments in critical areas to enhance EU competitiveness.


How exactly do we achieve competitiveness?

In Letta’s opinion, competitiveness is achieved by integrating the three key areas of energy, electric communications, and financial markets into the Single Market. Only so can the EU’s competitiveness and economic security be strengthened.

Letta dedicates a special chapter to SMEs, indicating that there must be a greater participation of SMEs in the Single Market. This can be done by simplifying procedures, addressing tax fragmentation, providing tailored guidance, and making information more readily accessible.


What about digital?

A more competitive digital sector rests on the greater integration of the EU’s electronic communications networks. According to Letta, the EU should harmonise consumer protection rules at a European level, as well as cybersecurity requirements, ensure the Open Internet and prioritise investment in 5G and 6G. The report calls for a unified regulatory framework, overseen by a new EU-wide regulatory body, ensuring consistent application of rules on net neutrality, roaming charges, and cross-border services, while still allowing national regulators to play a role.


What’s next? Some action for your organisation!

With the report now published, the European Commission is seeking input from European organisations through this public consultation for the upcoming Commission’s White Paper on how to master Europe’s digital infrastructure needs. The consultation is open until 30 June. Need some help filling it in? Reach out to our director Cathy Kremer for a chat.

Policy update

Policy update

A(I)pril’s fool!

Did you think the AI Act was concluded? Well, turns out it isn’t. If you remember the last edition, we mentioned the AI Act’s corrigendum being voted on during the European Parliament plenary session on 11-12 April. The corrigendum typically lists some (translation) errors to be corrected or removed from a legislative text. We have a little corrigendum of our own to share with you in this month’s EU Digital Policy Update…Although the final (!) text of the AI Act has been published, the corrigendum will be approved as we write without a vote.

In the meantime, three MEPs, Axel Voss (EPP, Germany), Svenja Hahn (Renew, Germany) and Kim van Sparrentak (Greens/EFA, the Netherlands) have asked the European Commission who will spearhead the EU’s AI Office. The AI Office will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the AI Act, in particular monitoring powerful general-purpose AI models, such as those posing a “systemic risk”. The MEPs stated that the AI Office’s leaders must possess unique abilities of leadership, international repute, technical expertise, and so forth, and put forward a few questions for the Commission to answer. Rumour has it that DG Connect senior policy maker Lucilla Sioli will get the job. A mystery that should soon be resolved as AI Office should start operating late this year.

Moreover, Roberto Viola, Director General at the European Commission’s DG CONNECT,  that each Member State must designate a national AI regulator, within the next year. The European Commission will send letters to each EU country urging them to do so. These regulators will work together with the AI Office to ensure that the law will be implemented in harmonisation throughout the EU.


What are the opportunities for my business?

The AI Act will support innovation for EU businesses, in particular for SMEs through AI regulatory sandboxes. According to the Act, each Member State will need to set up at least one AI regulatory sandbox (a national testing space for AI innovation, responding to specific rules under the AI Act) at national levels, which needs to be operational 2 years after the Act enters into force. Additionally, the European Parliament will vote during its plenary session on 24 April (National Pigs in a Blanket Day – not an April’s fool) on new legislation to open up European supercomputers for SMEs to test their AI models. Win-win situation!


Are we almost done?

Well, the file still needs to receive a final endorsement at the ministerial level before it can be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force twenty days later, all of it being expected in June. The first rules on prohibited practices will start applying six months later, around the end of this year.


National Month of Hope for the conclusion of our Cyber-files

With the Cyber Resilience Act’s (CRA) adoption on 12 March by the European Parliament, we are eagerly waiting for the Council to greenlight the file. The CRA introduces new cyber resilience standards to ensure that digital products in the EU are protected from cyber threats. Although there are no updates on the CRA’s adoption yet, the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and the Joint Research Centre did publish a joint analysis of CRA requirements standards mapping. As the CRA’s provisions must be converted into harmonised standards, the report identifies the most relevant existing cybersecurity standards for the CRA requirements, assesses how well these standards already cover the CRA and identifies any missing gaps. Always worth checking out!

All the while on 9 April, the Parliamentary Industry Committee (ITRE) approved the political deal of the Cyber Solidarity Act (CSA), after an agreement was reached earlier on 6 March. The European Parliament will formally endorse the Act later today, 24 April, during its final plenary session. Only the Council is left to vote before the CSA can be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force.


Easter egg: Interoperable Europe Act

Hop hop hop – on Easter Day, we found a small Easter egg in our European policy garden. The Interoperable Europe Act finally entered into force on 11 April! The legislation seeks to enhance cross-border data exchange in the public sector, as well as strengthen the Digital Single Market and more effectively implement digital features of public policy. The Act is therefore crucial for attaining the objective of the EU’s Digital Decade to have 100% of key public services available online by 2030.


What lies egg-head?

Most of the provisions will apply in three months after it enters into force. Interoperability assessments will start in January 2025, as well as Member States assigning national competent authorities. Plenty of reasons to celebrate with some real chocolate eggs!

Expert interview

Expert interview

Interview with Hans Graux

This month we had the opportunity to talk with Hans Graux – lawyer and founding partner of Timelex, a law firm specialised in innovation law – about the AI Act. Hans gave us his take on 4 key points.

Interview with Hans Graux


The AI Act is complex, how can your business navigate it?

It is crucial for your business to define what type of AI-related business it is (such as deployer, importer, distributor, supplier) and what type of risk category your AI belongs to (prohibited, high-risk, limited and minimum risk). Remember, special requirements are in place for general-purpose AI. Once these two elements are determined, you will be able to navigate your way through the applicable annexes of the Act and their compliance requirements.


What comes after the AI Act’s implementation?

The European Commission is expected to issue a solid amount of implementing legislation (up to around 20 implementing and delegated acts), to enable a homogeneous and consistent implementation of the AI Act and to support its flexibility to meet the changing needs of this rapidly evolving technology. The complex AI governance structure will also be set up for oversight, implementation, and enforcement – with the AI office as the first of the bunch.


How worried should businesses really be about the obligations imposed by the AI Act?

There are concerns about the burden of the AI Act’s requirements on SMEs. Yet whereas this is arguably true, many requirements are already partially in place. Businesses falling under Annex III (high-risk AI systems) particularly will require a new conformity assessment and may slow down market access for businesses. Businesses are encouraged to reach out to the European Commission and AI governance bodies to provide input.


What should be on the EU’s agenda for the upcoming legislative term?

A major priority for the EU should be to work on securing easier access to capital for European AI entrepreneurs, either in the context of the Capital Markets Union reform or via a bespoke AI initiative, in order to support innovation and level up with international competitiveness. Moreover, the EU should ensure successful enforcement and guidance for the implementation of AI and other digital-related legislation.



The future of AI in the European Union: a chat with the AI Act’s co-rapporteur Brando Benifei

This month we are happy to share that we could interview the AI Act’s co-rapporteur Brando Benifei, Italian MEP for the European Socialists and Democrats. Together, we discussed the role AI can play in boosting EU competitiveness, its daily impact on businesses and the regulatory future of AI within and outside the EU.

The future of AI in the European Union: a chat with the AI Act’s co-rapporteur Brando Benifei


'Beyond the Ballot' podcast

Competitiveness and sustainability: how can these two terms make peace in the next EU mandate? And how can we make sure organisations retain their competitiveness within the EU? How can we ensure the EU plays a solid role in revitilising the economy in the face of competition from China and US? All these questions set the stage for Episode 2 of our podcast.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube

'Beyond the Ballot' podcast

Every day is a good day to meet our team

There’s no need for a dedicated day to meet our colleagues at key European events… At Publyon, we like to think every day is a special occasion to exchange with our readers. This month, you can do so live by meeting our colleague Cathy Kremer at the CEPS event “A right-wing surge in the European Parliament: are we crying wolf?” on 30 April in Brussels.

Our colleague Irene Veth will be at the 2nd Transport Cybersecurity Conference on 2 May in Brussels and at the EU Digital Summit 2024 on 15 May in Brussels. We also like to exchange in any other way you see fit, whether to reach out with some questions or share your suggestions for the upcoming editions of the EU Digital Policy Update.

Emmanuelle Ledure

Emmanuelle Ledure

Hi, my name is Emmanuelle and from next month on, I declare the third Wednesday of every month to be EU Digital Policy Update Day, a special day to bring Brussels’ main digitalisation and technology insights to your inbox. We are always looking to provide our community with the most valuable content possible, and that starts with you. If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in our next edition, do not hesitate to reach out to me.