Sci-tech execs criticise EU AI Act in strongly-worded open letter

30 Jun 2023

Image: © cranach/

Signatories of an open letter criticising the AI Act say that companies could pull their businesses from Europe if their work is impeded by new laws.

Executives from some of Europe’s largest companies have signed an open letter voicing their concerns over the EU AI Act. Signatories range from the CEOs of telecoms companies Orange and Deutsche Telekom to the chief scientific officer of Renault and the heads of Schneider Electric and Siemens.

Calling themselves “engaged stakeholders of the European economic sector” they said they wished to express their “serious concerns” about the proposed EU AI Act. The EU has been working on AI legislation for years and after a long lead-up it finally passed it earlier this month. The main aim of the far-reaching rules is to reign in high-risk technology and ensure AI advancements don’t happen at the expense of citizens’ human rights.

Ahead of the AI Act’s passing, Irish MEP Deidre Clune spoke to about the likely outcomes of the legislation and what to expect.

However, the act has been met with concern and criticism by some on the sci-tech innovation scene. “In our assessment, the draft legislation would jeopardise Europe’s competitiveness and technological sovereignty without effectively tackling the challenges we are and will be facing,” said the signatories of this particular letter.

“We are convinced that our future significantly depends on Europe becoming part of the technological avant-garde, especially in such an important field as (generative) artificial intelligence.”

Indeed, the execs focused much of their attention on generative AI. They said that the advancements made in this area would be as formative for technology as those already made in silicon chips and the invention of the internet. “Europe cannot afford to stay on the sidelines,” they warned, adding that companies might move their operations to other regions if the EU stifled innovation under law.

“Such regulation could lead to highly innovative companies moving their activities abroad, investors withdrawing their capital from the development of European Foundation Models and European AI in general. The result would be a critical productivity gap between the two sides of the Atlantic.”

The signatories called on EU officials to revise the latest version of the AI Act and agree on “proportionate, forward-looking legislation” which will contribute to European competitiveness and protect society. They did acknowledge the importance of safety and the need for proper regulation.

“It is our joint responsibility to lay the foundation for a European AI development that is in line with our values and forms the basis for a strong, innovative and prosperous Europe.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.