rules for the fast-evolving field of robotics, to settle issues such as
compliance with ethical standards and liability for accidents involving
driverless cars, should be put forward by the EU Commission, urged the
Legal Affairs Committee on Thursday.
Rapporteur Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU) said: “A growing number of areas of
our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics. In order to
address this reality and to ensure that robots are and will remain in
the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European
legal framework”. Her report, approved by 17 votes to 2, with 2
abstentions, looks at robotics-related issues such as liability, safety
and changes in the labour market.
MEPs stress that EU-wide rules are needed to fully exploit the economic
potential of robotics and artificial intelligence and guarantee a
standard level of safety and security. The EU needs to take the lead on
regulatory standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by
third states, argues the report.
A new European Agency for robotics and a Code of Ethical Conduct
MEPs urge the Commission to consider creating a European agency for
robotics and artificial intelligence to supply public authorities with
technical, ethical and regulatory expertise.
They also propose a voluntary ethical conduct code to regulate who would
be accountable for the social, environmental and human health impacts of
robotics and ensure that they operate in accordance with legal, safety
and ethical standards.
For example, this code should recommend that robot designers include
“kill” switches so that robots can be turned off in emergencies, they
MEPs note that harmonised rules are especially urgently needed for
self-driving cars. They call for an obligatory insurance scheme and a
fund to ensure victims are fully compensated in cases of accidents
caused by driverless cars.
In the long-term, the possibility of creating a specific legal status of
“electronic persons” for the most sophisticated autonomous robots, so as
to clarify responsibility in cases of damage, should also be considered,
development of robotics could also result in big societal changes,
including the creation and loss of jobs in certain fields, says the
text. It urges the Commission to follow these trends closely, including
new employment models and the viability of the current tax and social
system for robotics.
Request for legislation
This legislative initiative invites the Commission to present a
legislative proposal. It is not obliged to do so, but must state its
reasons if it refuses.
The full house will vote on the draft proposals in February, which will
need to be approved by absolute majority according to the legislative