The EU AI Act: A new era of AI regulation begins

July 9, 2024
Michael Borrelli

THE European Union's AI Act has officially been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, marking a significant milestone in the regulation of artificial intelligence. With the two-year transition period set to begin in just 20 days, businesses across various sectors, including those operating in the digital asset space, must start their readiness journeys to comply with this ground-breaking legislation.

Understanding the EU AI Act

The EU AI Act is a comprehensive regulatory framework designed to ensure that AI technologies are developed and deployed in a manner that aligns with European values and fundamental rights. The Act aims to promote human-centric AI, protect fundamental rights, and foster innovation. It introduces stringent requirements for high-risk AI systems, mandates transparency, and establishes a robust governance framework to oversee AI activities within the EU.

Key provisions of the EU AI Act

  1. High-Risk AI Systems: The Act categorises certain AI systems as high-risk, subjecting them to rigorous requirements. These include transparency obligations, risk management, and conformity assessments to ensure that these systems do not pose undue risks to individuals or society.
  2. General-Purpose AI Models: The Act also addresses general-purpose AI models, particularly those with systemic risks. Providers of these models must comply with specific obligations to mitigate potential harms.
  3. Governance and Enforcement: The Act establishes a governance framework that includes the AI Office and a Board composed of representatives from Member States. This framework ensures effective implementation and enforcement of the regulations.
  4. Innovation Support: To foster innovation, the Act includes provisions for AI regulatory sandboxes, allowing businesses to test and develop AI systems under regulatory oversight before they are placed on the market.

Why businesses should care

The EU AI Act is not just another piece of legislation; it represents a paradigm shift in how AI technologies are regulated. Businesses operating in the EU, including those in the digital asset space, must understand the implications of this Act and take proactive steps to ensure compliance. Failure to do so could result in significant penalties and reputational damage.

Starting the readiness journey

With the transition period set to begin in 20 days, businesses must act swiftly to prepare for the new regulatory landscape. Here are some steps they can take to start their readiness journeys:

  • Conduct a Compliance Audit: Businesses should begin by conducting a comprehensive audit of their AI systems to identify those that fall under the high-risk category. This audit should assess the current state of compliance with the requirements outlined in the EU AI Act.
  • Develop a Compliance Strategy: Based on the audit findings, businesses should develop a compliance strategy that outlines the steps needed to meet the Act's requirements. This strategy should include timelines, resource allocation, and key milestones to ensure timely compliance.
  • Engage with Regulatory Sandboxes: Businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups, should consider participating in AI regulatory sandboxes. These sandboxes provide a controlled environment to test and develop AI systems under regulatory oversight, helping businesses understand and meet compliance requirements.
  • Invest in Training and Education: Ensuring compliance with the EU AI Act requires a deep understanding of its provisions. Businesses should invest in training and education programs for their employees to build the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate the new regulatory landscape.
  • Collaborate with Experts: Engaging with legal and regulatory experts can provide valuable insights and guidance on compliance. Businesses should consider partnering with consultants or legal firms specializing in AI regulation to ensure they are on the right track.
  • Implement Robust Data Management Practices: High-quality data is crucial for the development and assessment of AI systems. Businesses should implement robust data management practices to ensure the availability of high-quality data for training, validation, and testing of AI systems.
  • Monitor Regulatory Developments: The EU AI Act includes provisions for continuous evaluation and review. Businesses should stay informed about any amendments or updates to the Act to ensure ongoing compliance.

Specific considerations for the digital asset space

Businesses operating in the digital asset space face unique challenges and opportunities under the EU AI Act. Here are some specific considerations for these businesses:

  • Transparency and Accountability: Digital asset businesses must ensure that their AI systems are transparent and accountable. This includes providing clear information about how AI systems make decisions and ensuring that these systems do not engage in discriminatory practices.
  • Risk Management: Given the high-risk nature of many digital asset transactions, businesses must implement robust risk management practices. This includes conducting regular risk assessments and implementing measures to mitigate identified risks.
  • Data Privacy and Security: Digital asset businesses must prioritize data privacy and security. This includes ensuring that AI systems comply with data protection regulations and implementing measures to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access.
  • Collaboration with Regulators: Engaging with regulators and participating in AI regulatory sandboxes can provide valuable insights and help digital asset businesses navigate the complex regulatory landscape.


The EU AI Act represents a significant step forward in the regulation of artificial intelligence. With the two-year transition period set to begin in just 20 days, businesses must act swiftly to ensure compliance. By conducting compliance audits, developing robust strategies, engaging with regulatory sandboxes, and investing in training and education, businesses can navigate the new regulatory landscape and harness the full potential of AI technologies. For those in the digital asset space, prioritizing transparency, risk management, data privacy, and collaboration with regulators will be key to thriving under the EU AI Act.