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European AI Legislation: Implications for Competition Law

Amidst a whirlwind of legislative activity in Europe, a slew of significant digital-centric regulations have emerged. Key among them are the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the Digital Services Act (DSA), the Data Act, the Data Governance Act, and notably, the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act). With these expansive documents shaping the region’s digital framework, navigating this regulatory terrain demands acute expertise.

While those specializing in competition law may presume that a thorough grasp of the DMA combined with an awareness of related regulations would suffice, they might be missing a critical piece. A meticulous scrutiny of the draft AI Act underscores the imperative for these professionals to delve deeper into the evolving rules centered around artificial intelligence. This becomes salient for two primary reasons.

To begin, the AI Act is poised to leave an indelible mark on competition legislation. The present draft bestows enhanced procedural powers upon supervisory entities, powers which are slated to extend to competition-oriented agencies. Essentially, the AI Act is recalibrating the metrics of computational antitrust, potentially reshaping how legal bodies and agencies discern various competition breaches.

Furthermore, the AI Act’s reach is anticipated to reshape competitive dynamics. Its wide-ranging and adaptable purview is a testament to its burgeoning relevance. As Article 2 lucidly articulates, the AI Act encompasses all entities engaged in launching or utilizing AI frameworks within the Union, AI system users based in the Union, and both providers and users situated outside, given the end-use transpires within Union confines. With an increasingly digitized marketplace, it’s foreseeable that a vast array of firms will either lean on or proffer solutions infused with AI mechanisms.

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While the AI Act is committed to instituting fresh guidelines “without prejudice to the application of Union competition law,” its trajectory suggests otherwise. It is primed to influence competition law from three angles: reshaping the procedural capabilities of antitrust entities, advancing the realm of computational antitrust, and evaluating practices derived from the AI Act.

The surge of digital-centric regulations in Europe, especially the introduction of the AI Act, heralds a transformative era for the competition law landscape. Despite the AI Act’s intent to operate without impinging on Union competition law, its inherent breadth and depth indicate an inevitable intersection. For stakeholders, regulators, and professionals in the arena of competition law, comprehending and adapting to these evolving paradigms will be paramount. As AI becomes increasingly integral to our digital ecosystem, ensuring that regulatory frameworks reflect both its promise and its challenges remains crucial for a balanced and prosperous future.

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