Next week, Members of the European Parliament (“MEPs”) will gather in person and virtually in Brussels for committee meetings.  Several interesting votes and debates are scheduled to take place.

On Monday, the Legal Affairs Committee (“JURI”) will vote on a report that addresses interpretive questions of public international law on the military uses of AI and the impact of AI on international private law.  In the draft report, Rapporteur MEP Gilles Lebreton (ID, FR) reiterates how all military uses of AI should be governed, such as data processing for military purposes, “collaborative combat”, defensive systems, and all weapons using AI including lethal autonomous weapon systems (“LAWS”).  Given their high risk, the report details specific principles for LAWS.  The draft report suggests that LAWS should only be used in clearly defined cases and in accordance with detailed procedures that are accessible to the public or national parliaments.  The draft report also calls for the prohibition of the “antropomorphisation” of LAWS to prevent the possibility of LAWS being mistaken for humans.  It further stresses that the authority of the state may not be challenged by a private authority in possession of highly sophisticated AI technologies.  The draft report is available here.

On the same day, JURI will also debate on a report on the liability of companies for environmental damage and the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive 2004/35/CE (“ELD”).  Rapporteur Antonius Manders (PPE, NL) observes that the implementation of the ELD differs significantly among Member States and, therefore, recommends transforming the ELD into a fully harmonized Regulation.  In his draft report, he furthermore suggests to create an “EU ELD-taskforce” that would be responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the ELD and could offer support to harmed individuals.  As regards foreseeability of environmental damage, the Rapporteur thinks the burden of proof should be reversed and be placed on the companies.  Companies should prove that they could not have known the danger of their activity.  In addition, the ELD should be aligned with civil liability legislation for company board members.  The draft is an “own-initiative report,” meaning that it is not part of a legislative process and, if adopted, will not amend the ELD and will not be legally binding.  The draft report is available here.

On Thursday, MEPs of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Security (“ENVI”) will have an exchange of views with the Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”), Emer Cooke, to discuss the procedures and assessments for authorizing vaccines against COVID-19.  Recently, BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna have submitted their candidate vaccines for conditional market authorization under an accelerated timeline.  The first opinions and assessments could be within the next several weeks, but EMA has previously said that it is unlikely that it will approve any vaccines before the end of the month.  Over the past few months, the European Commission has secured five contracts with pharmaceutical companies to have a diversified vaccine portfolio.

For the complete agenda and overview of the meetings, please see here.