There are many checkpoints for the EU AI Act to pass through before it becomes legislation and before the law is applicable for all types of AI tools. While we are getting closer to a final vote in the European Parliament, there is some confusion as to when the law actually comes into effect. The answer will be different depending on what AI system we are talking about.
I've provided an overview here to quickly see what's next in line. Note that after the EU AI Act is voted into legislation there is a transition period, known as vacatio legis* (Latin for "absence of law"), wherein stakeholders who build or rely on automated systems are given time to adapt before anyone can actually hold them accountable. This transition period varies for different types of applications.
*Vacatio legis is sometimes jokingly referred to as "a legal act's holiday".
EU AI Act timeline for 2024 and forward
April 21, 2021
Three years ago, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI.
Over the years, many hours have been spent debating and negotiating details of the proposed legislation.
December 9, 2023
The Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI Act after 3-day ‘marathon’ talks.
February 2, 2024
The Council formally approved the final text of the AI Act in preparation for the plenary vote.
February 13, 2024
The European Parliament’s Internal Market and Civil Liberties Committees will adopt the AI rulebook..
The European Parliament’s vote on the EU AI Act is provisionally scheduled for April 10-11.
If the vote goes through it will need to be entered into the EUR-Lex Official Journal of the European Union.
And 20 days after entered into the journal, the AI Act will enter into force. Let’s call it AIA-Day.
During a transitional period stakeholders are given time to “adapt” before legislation is applied.
AIA-DAY + 6 months
Applicability for prohibited AI systems comes first, perhaps as early as December 2024.
AIA-DAY + 12 months
Specific obligations regarding general purpose AI systems will be applicable after 1 year.
AIA-DAY + 24 months
Most other obligations will be applicable after 2 years, including rules for high-risk AI systems (Annex III).
AIA-DAY + 36 months
Specific obligations related to high-risk systems included in Annex II are applicable after 3 years
That's all folks!
It’s humbling to realise that it will likely be six years between the first draft proposal and the AI Act coming into full enforcement.
This isn’t the only legislation to monitor. EU member states may implement their own regulations in the interim with shorter compliance windows.