Artificial intelligence, illegal fishing and export success: A round-up of EU news & views

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages
The EU has committed €20 million to developing artificial intelligence (AI); Thailand is back in the good books after its yellow card for illegal fishing is removed; and EU food exports had record success in October.

Back in the good books: EU removes Thailand’s yellow card for illegal fishing

The European Commission has taken Thailand off its warning list for illegal fishing on account of the progress it has made in tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Known as Thailand’s ‘yellow card’, the warning status was in place since April 2015 and was the first step in a process that could have led to a complete import ban of the country’s marine fisheries products into the EU.

However, the country successfully addressed the shortcomings in its fisheries legal and administrative systems, said the EC.

European Commissioner for the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing damages global fish stocks but it also hurts the people living from the sea, especially those already vulnerable to poverty. Fighting illegal fishing is, therefore, a priority for the EU. I am excited that today we have a new committed partner in this fight.​”

A statement by the Commission said: “Since the yellow card was issued, the Commission and Thailand have engaged in a constructive process of cooperation and dialogue. This has resulted in a major upgrade of the Thai fisheries governance in accordance with the international commitments of the country.

"Thailand has amended its fisheries legal framework in line with international law of the sea instruments. It has reinforced compliance with its obligations as a flag, port, coastal and market State, strengthened the mechanisms of control of the national fishing fleet and enhanced its monitoring, control and surveillance systems.”

EU invests in artificial intelligence (AI)

This month sees the launch of the AI4EU project, an open and collaborative platform that aims to offer services and support to potential AI users, helping them test and integrate AI solutions in their processes, products and services.

The project, which will receive €20 million in EU funding over the next three years, will bring together 79 research institutes, SMEs and large enterprises in 21 countries. It will be led by French company Thales.

Commission vice-president for the digital single market Andrus Ansip and commissioner for the digital economy and society Mariya Gabriel said in a joint statement: “Europe can only reap the full benefits of AI innovations if this technology is easily usable by all. The AI4EU project will help bring AI to small businesses, non-tech companies and public administrations across Europe.”​ 

Through Horizon 2020, the Commission intends to increase its investment in R&D focussed on AI to €1.5 billion by 2020.

A record month for Europe’s food exports 

The value of EU agri-food exports reached a record high in October 2018, according to the Commission’s monthly trade report.

Total exports were 2.9% above the previous highest level registered in March 2017, with a value of €13.1 billion, while the monthly agri-food trade surplus was €3 billion – a 13% increase from October 2017, and the second biggest surplus on record.

The Commission said gains were seen “fairly evenly”​ across the board but beverages and commodities showed the highest growth.

The report reads: “Notable increases in exports were recorded for spirits and liqueurs (a gain of €167 million), other cereals (up by €93 million), wheat (a rise of €73 million) and wine and vermouth (which grew by €70 million). Import figures also increased by 5% (when compared to October 2017).”­

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