Plans to regulate Artificial Intelligence (AI) across the European Union are “not a good idea”, French President Emmanuel Macron has said.
Speaking at an event on December 11, he criticised the legislation pioneered by European Commissioner and fellow Frenchman Thierry Breton, saying it could put Europe’s global competitiveness at risk.
“I think it’s not a good idea and I say it in all honesty,” he told the event on innovation in Toulouse.
Macron complained that the proposed rules – which would see many uses of AI technology banned and certain other systems heavily regulated – would likely impair his country’s tech sector and make the EU as a whole less competitive on the world stage.
“We are very far from the Chinese and the Americans,” he said, warning that the new rules could amount to the EU trying to regulate “things that we no longer produce or invent”.
He also noted that the British, whom Macron sees as France’s main rival in the European AI race, would not have to put up with the restrictions.
“If we lose leaders or pioneers because of that, we will have to come back to [examine the new rules],” he went on to warn.
Enthusiasts and business leaders have spent the weekend berating Brussels’ so-called “digital enforcer”, Thierry Breton, over the newly agreed EU deal to regulate AI. https://t.co/WUPzlu5g3l
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) December 11, 2023
Macron is one of the latest figures to attack the legislation agreed a few days ago, with those in Europe’s business sector having already lambasted Brussels over the decision.
French media regard the Macron’s comments as not just being an attack on the new regulations but also on the bloc’s so-called “digital enforcer” Breton.
Breton has been one of the AI act’s biggest supporters, describing the deal as being “historic” despite backlash from governments and businesses across Europe.
Both Macron and Breton have repeatedly sparred over a variety of issues.
Breton warned France earlier in the year that it must leave any attempt at regulating online speech to the EU, or face “unpleasant consequences”.
Macron is said to be unwilling to back Breton in his career advancement ambitions. A senior government source told Politico in August that the French leader would never support a Breton bid for EC President.
“Breton will never become the next Commission president,” the source insisted, as “Macron doesn’t want it.”
The European Union’s censorious Digital Services Act is compatible with freedom of speech, European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton has stated. https://t.co/spBwhZgL2g
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 28, 2023