German digital minister calls for timely EU rules on artificial intelligence

Berlin (dpa) – There are calls in the German government to quickly create rules for the use of artificial intelligence (AI). On Thursday, German Digital Minister Volker Wissing told the newspaper Bild, “We must react wisely now and regulate artificial intelligence sensibly before it is too late. This must not take years again.” He called for a European legal framework to be created quickly.

Currently, the speech-imitating text software ChatGPT, Google’s competing software Bard, as well as programmes that can generate images based on text descriptions, are causing a big stir. At the same time, there are concerns that such AI-based technology could be misused, for example, to spread false information.

A spokeswoman of the German Interior Ministry told the newspaper Handelsblatt, “It is essential to strike a balance between openness to innovation and a clear legal framework that defines standards for trustworthy AI.” To what extent certification could play a role remained to be seen, she added. Within the framework of the EU regulation on AI, the German government had advocated to make the use of certain high-risk AI systems by the public administration transparent through a publicly accessible database.

At the same time, the head of the German Social Democrats, Saskia Esken, countered fears that AI could lead to job losses. “There is this fear with every technological leap, and yet so far more new jobs have always been created than replaced,” she said. Moreover, there was already a huge shortage of skilled workers. However, AI should not be misused for surveillance in the workplace, she added. (April 16)

The Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina reduced its exposure to market risks

Washington (FENA) – At the Spring Session of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WB) in Washington, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CBBH), Senad Softić, said that the CBBH overcame the challenging year 2022 and reduced its exposure to market risks by restructuring its portfolio.

Softić pointed out that small countries like BiH could not do much to counteract the rise of international tensions or the increase of interest rates throughout the world, and that the best thing they could do was to prepare for external shocks and increase their own resilience by ensuring there were no significant macroeconomic imbalances, especially in the fiscal area.

In this regard, timely structural reforms, as the governor emphasised, are of exceptional importance for BiH. For a currency board like the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the best policy is to stick to basic principles as a guarantee of stability.

At the Spring Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, central bank officials and finance ministers of member countries gather to discuss the global situation, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication and economic development. (April 16)

EU works on new programme to counteract migrant smuggling in North Africa

Brussels (ANSA) – “The European Commission has started working on a new regional programme to counteract migrant smuggling and human trafficking in North Africa. The initiative will support specific activities against smuggling, particularly in Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia,” the Commission told the Italian news agency ANSA. European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will visit Tunisia at the end of April to “discuss migration management with the support of the EU” and put into practice the operational partnership proposed at the last Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

According to reports in Tunisia, the Commission intends to discuss the prevention of irregular departures, with a focus on the launch of an anti-trafficking partnership, increased search and rescue operations, repatriations and reintegration (from Tunisia to sub-Saharan Africa) and the strengthening of legal migration opportunities by member states.

The EU executive is “aware” of the “particularly complicated” situation in the central Mediterranean and recalls that, for the short term, the Action Plan presented last November puts in place “a comprehensive approach with operational and financial measures” to address the challenges at stake. “The Commission is coordinating the implementation of the Action Plan and is in close contact with Italy, the other member states and the agencies providing support on the ground,” a spokesperson stated. (April 13).

Slovenia launches space strategy on the road to full membership of European Space Agency

Ljubljana (STA) – Slovenia’s Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, in cooperation with SpaceTec Partners, has prepared a draft of the Slovenian Space Strategy 2030, which is, among other things, an important step towards full membership of the European Space Agency (ESA). The strategy will be open for public consultation until 10 May.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy Matevž Frangež explained that the draft of the Slovenian Space Strategy brings together all the country’s ambitions in the field of space in one place. “Slovenia is small on Earth, but wants to become big in space,” he stressed.

Gordon Campbell of ESA also highlighted Slovenia’s “undoubtedly impressive” achievements in space. The small size of the country was an advantage in this case, he said, which was reflected, among other things, by the facilitation of cross-sectoral cooperation. A well-developed strategy was also important, he said, because it made it easier and quicker for ESA to identify a country’s potential. Slovenia was already well recognised in ESA, he pointed out.

The draft strategy includes five strategic pillars to support the development of the sector. The first three are aimed at developing programme priority areas. These are the promotion and development of space technologies and research and development, cooperation in international space exploration and research, and space applications. The remaining two pillars are aimed at creating favourable conditions for the further development of the space sector. (April 13)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.