Citizens' panel on artificial intelligence in the EU

23. February 2024
Belgian Presidency EU

In 2024, Belgium is holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). During this presidency, the country is focussing on citizen participation and is holding an EU-related citizens' panel in its own country. The topic: artificial intelligence and the role the EU could play in this area.

Artificial intelligence (AI) uses computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making abilities of the human mind. An AI is able to extract information from data that a human could never gather, for example because it is too numerous or existing patterns are too complex to recognise. Instead of being programmed for every purpose, an AI can find answers and solve problems independently.

European AI strategy

The EU's approach to artificial intelligence focuses on excellence and trust to strengthen research and industrial capacities while ensuring security and fundamental rights. "The European AI strategy aims to make the EU a world-class hub for artificial intelligence and to ensure that AI is human and trustworthy," according to the European Commission's website.

For the Citizens' Panel on Artificial Intelligence, 16,200 invitations were sent to residents across Belgium. As part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Belgium is endeavouring to involve its citizens in debates on European issues. In particular, the government is seeking to understand citizens' perspectives on the direction Europe should take in relation to artificial intelligence in the 2024 - 2029 intergovernmental period. The results of the beEU Citizens' Forum will be shared with the EU institutions and provide them with a source of inspiration for the next legislative period.

The Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union, which is chaired by Belgium in 2024, brings together the representatives of the governments of the 27 Member States. It is the forum in which the various governments represent their interests and negotiate compromises. The representatives from the member states act on behalf of their respective governments.

The Council is one of the EU's three main legislative bodies. It adopts legal acts. It also coordinates the policies of the Member States, exercises budgetary powers together with the European Parliament and develops the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy in accordance with the European Council's guidelines.

60 participants

The beEU Citizens' Forum on Artificial Intelligence comprises 60 people selected to represent Belgian society. People were randomly selected to apply for participation. The final participants were drawn by lot from among those who applied.

This method ensures equal opportunities for all and guarantees a diverse forum in terms of age, gender, place of residence, income level and education. Attention is also paid to an appropriate representation of young people and to the diversity of the Belgian population.

Three meeting weekends

The beEU Citizens' Forum will meet on 24 and 25 February, 23 and 24 March and 20 and 21 April 2024 at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. The results will be presented at a closing event. Accommodation will be arranged for participants who live far away from Brussels.

The key word of the Citizens' Panel will be inclusion, writes the Belgian Council Presidency on its website. Every participant will be able to express themselves freely, regardless of their background, knowledge, place of residence or views.

Trust and equality

The discussions will be held in French and Dutch, with interpreters available. All participants receive the information they need for an objective debate. "Qualified moderators will facilitate the discussions and ensure an environment characterised by trust and equality. Experts will also be present to enrich the debates," according to the announcement.

Read more: Citizens' Panel „Artificial Intelligence in the EU“