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Minister Breen calls for smart investment in strengthening Europe’s position in the field of Artificial Intelligence

Minister of State for Trade, Business, and EU Digital Single Market, Pat Breen TD was in Vienna today to attend the informal Council meeting of the Ministers responsible for the Internal Market and Industry, to discuss a range of issues related to EU competitiveness. The theme of the Council meeting was “Rethinking European Industry”, which was also attended by Commission Vice President Ansip, and Commissioner Bienkowska.

At the Council, Ministers attended a plenary session on “Boosting European Competitiveness: Industrial policy, skills and the chances of Artificial Intelligence (AI)”, which included contributions from keynote speakers and a general debate. There were further sessions on “How to create a vibrant AI ecosystem and the ideal business environment in Europe?”, and “Making the right investments: The challenges of reindustrialisation, digital transformation and the next MFF”.

On “the chances” of Artificial Intelligence, digital transformation brings significant changes in many areas of the economy and society, exceeding every major development in terms of speed, range and impact. Many of these changes come in an evolutionary way, however, they have a disruptive effect and influence entire branches seminally. Digitalisation is basically and primarily about knowledge and know-how. Digitalisation can also be seen as the breeding ground for one of the most disruptive changes that is actually happening: AI, where its impact on how data will be processed, analysed and shared is redefining the way data will impact our daily lives. We are entering an era of connected intelligence that will drive new demands at all levels of the supply chain.

Minister Breen said: “One of the key methods of strengthening Europe’s position in this field is by investment. For this to be effective it needs to be both smart and appropriate”.

In relation to the session on “how to create a vibrant AI ecosystem and the ideal business environment in Europe?”, Ministers had a hands-on exchange with an entrepreneur and AI expert who has worked in Silicon Valley and is now doing AI research and applications in Europe.

Minister Breen said: “One of the key challenges presented by the impact of Artificial Intelligence is the need to reskill and upskill. This will clearly have implications not only for the educational priorities of Governments, but also for training requirements within Industry”.

A separate session on “Making the right investments: The challenges of reindustrialisation, digital transformation and the next MFF” highlighted some best practices from other innovation regions in the world, and the discussion focused on the necessity for investment into digital transformation in the context of the future Multiannual Financial Framework.

Minister Breen, recalling the Department’s recent announcement of a €500 million challenge-based Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) to drive collaboration between our research base and industry to develop and deploy truly game-changing technologies, said: “Our goal for the new research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe, should be to establish Europe as a Global Leader in Innovation where EU businesses will be the most competitive in the world, producing disruptive technologies and creating new markets”.


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

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Note to editors

The Informal Meeting of the Ministers responsible for Competitiveness (Internal Market and Industry) held in Vienna, Austria on 15-16 July 2018. Austria assumed the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July 2018 for the second half of 2018.

Key note speakers:

Plenary session:

-          Sabine Herlitschka; Infineon

-          James Steve Luke; IBM

Entrepreneur and AI expert:

-          Mic Hirschbrich; APOLLO.AI