Portugal has set its priorities for its presidency of the Council for the European Union and there will be focus on the EU adopting its first law on artificial intelligence.

Portugal has a number of priorities for its presidency of the EU relating to technology, in particular "Digital Europe... Accelerate digital transformation in the service of citizens and enterprises".  The published priorities do not refer specifically to new legislation on artificial intelligence.  But the European Parliament had adopted proposals in October 2020 for the EU to produce:

- an ethics framework for artificial intelligence (see the proposals here); and

- amended legislation for civil liability for when artificial intelligence causes damage (see the proposals here).

However, according to Euractive news agency Portugal's economy minister said in the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU that: 

"We attach great importance to the legal framework for artificial intelligence. It is now clear that artificial intelligence is the basis for enhanced productivity and has great potential for growth" 

and “the standards of society and individuals should be respected in the area of artificial intelligence and the algorithms involved."

and according to Euractive, that means "Portugal will focus on adopting this first legal framework at EU level for artificial intelligence..."

Proposals for artificial intelligence legislation are due to be discussed in June 2021 as part of Portugal's presidency.  We expect that there will be further debate, and hints as to whether and when EU laws on artificial intelligence are likely, in the lead to the debate in June 2021.