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EU Leads, US Responds: The Regulatory Race in AI Policy

The European Union’s assertive stance in regulatory policymaking, particularly in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), is prompting U.S. regulators to pick up the pace. According to former agency and division heads, there is an evident competitive dynamic among regulators to establish dominance in the AI regulatory landscape.

The Race to Regulate AI

Maneesha Mithal, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and former head of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, highlighted this regulatory rivalry. “There’s a natural competition among regulators to try to be the first,” she said, adding that this competition extends to being the most innovative and staying ahead of trends.

The U.S. isn’t far behind in this race. President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order encouraging the development of AI regulations, mirroring the EU’s efforts to pass its own comprehensive Artificial Intelligence Act.

EU’s Influence and Global Impact

The European Union is undeniably setting global regulatory standards, observed William Kovacic, former FTC Chair and current law professor at George Washington University. “The European Union, in many ways, is leading the way and setting standards in a number of areas of regulatory policy,” Kovacic stated. He emphasized that U.S. regulators, while not always aligning with EU policies, must pay close attention due to the EU’s significant economic influence.

The Challenge of Legislation in the US

Katerina Linos, Co-faculty Director at the University of California, Berkeley’s Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, pointed out the stark contrast between the EU and the U.S. in terms of regulatory action. While the EU has successfully passed major tech regulatory schemes, such as the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, the U.S. struggles with political polarization, making comprehensive antitrust legislation challenging.

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Europe’s AI Regulatory Ambitions

Despite Europe’s lead in AI regulation, Linos noted a gap in technology and expertise. “The EU is not winning the AI battle in the sense that they don’t have the technology companies, they don’t have the expertise,” she remarked. However, the EU’s quick regulatory actions, especially in AI, could result in premature or misguided rules.

The Need for International Collaboration

Bruce Sokler, an antitrust attorney at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, underscored the importance of international cooperation in technology areas like AI. “There has to be some collaborations, particularly on things that have worldwide effects like AI,” he said.

G7 Summit on AI and Competition Policy

This need for collaborative regulatory efforts was recently highlighted at the G7 Competition Authorities and Policymakers’ Summit. The summit focused on applying competition law and regulatory tools to digital markets, addressing concerns like exclusionary practices and barriers created by digital firms.


As AI continues to transform every facet of life, the regulatory responses from both the EU and the U.S. will significantly impact how this technology is developed and used globally. The EU’s proactive stance has undeniably spurred U.S. regulators into action, setting the stage for an ongoing transatlantic regulatory dialogue in the AI domain.

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