AI Italian programme can improve EU strategic autonomy?

Italy has recently adopted its Strategic Programme for Artificial Intelligence 2022-2024. It consists of 24 policies to accelerate innovation and potentiality of AI in the country in the next 3 years. The goal of the policies is to make Italy, and therefore Europe, a center of artificial intelligence competitive at a global level. Different limits and potentials are foreseeable as a result of the new Italian Strategic Programme.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the end of the talks with President Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinale (photo by Francesco Ammendola – Office for Press and Communication of the Presidency of the Republic)

Key Judgement 1

AI is very likely to become dominant in Italian strategy for economic growth and influence at the global level.

  • The Italian strategy for AI was first announced in 2018. Since then, 3 different governments have followed each other (Conte I, Conte II, Draghi) and 2 proposals have been made, but both rejected. 
  • Italy is following behind its European partners. France and Germany in fact launched their respective strategies in 2019. They also launched an investment plan up to 2025 of EUR 1 billion and EUR 6 billion respectively.
  • The programme aims to improve the competitiveness of the country by bridging the gap of AI with France and Germany.
  • The main problems regarding the Strategic Programme for Italian AI are related to funds and lack of Global Digital Champions. Investment in this sector is much lower than in other European countries. On average, investments amount to 2.38% of GDP, while in Italy only 1.45%. [source]
  • The NextGenerationEu, of which Italy is the largest recipient with 191.5 billion euros, and Draghi’s government agenda will very likely better Italy AI capabilities. [source]
Key policies of the Italian Strategic Programme on Artificial Intelligence 2022-2024, [source]

Key Judgement 2

AI Italian Programme success is almost certainly required for assuring competitiveness of European AI and achieve technological autonomy.

  • AI has long been a key priority for Europe. In fact, despite the progress of France and Germany in their strategic programmes, an alignment between countries and policies of the European Union is necessary.
  • Indeed, the geopolitics of artificial intelligence is built in blocks. USA and China are now the main protagonists and contenders.
  • The European AI Programme differs from that of other great powers in its aim of “develop and adopt human-centred and trustworthy AI”. [source]
  • The European Union must achieve technological autonomy to avoid further strategic dependence: “Ruling AI and ruling with AI”. [source]
  • Italy must contribute to the success of artificial intelligence in Europe to achieve regional strategic autonomy and compete internationally.
Guiding principles of the Italian Strategic Program on Artificial Intelligence 2022-2024, [source]

Key Judgement 3

Italy is likely acquiring an increasingly central role in the attempt to achieve a strategic European autonomy. 

  • Italy will in fact direct the work for 2022 of the Intelligence College in Europe (ICE). This intergovernmental body brings together the practice of the secret services of 23 countries. [source]
  • The leadership of the ICE is a sign of further responsibility within the European framework. Italian intelligence will have the opportunity to share counter-terrorism and fight against organized crime skills, fields in which it excels. 
  • In addition, the National Cybersecurity Agency will become operative in 2022. This agency has the additional purpose of ensuring cybernetic security and resilience for the development of digitisation of the country, the production system and PAs. [source]
  • The broader scope is, once again, the achievement of national and European autonomy in this case with regard to strategically important IT products and processes.
  • Indeed, the development of a solid national program on AI and cybersecurity is key to strengthen strategic capability.
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