UNI Europa Finance signs joint declaration with Europe’s insurance employers on Responsible AI

Tuesday 16 March 2021

UNI Europa Finance together with the European insurance sector employers – Insurance Europe, BIPAR and AMICE – signed, in a virtual ceremony, a Joint Declaration on Artificial Intelligence.

In it they confirm the importance of a responsible and ethical rollout of AI across the sector. Acknowledging that AI can help improve working conditions and enhance productivity, social dialogue between trade unions and employers at all levels remains the cornerstone to guaranteeing workers’ rights and protections as the use of these digital tools increases.

“Europe’s insurance social partners are committed to promoting a sustainable use of AI with full respect for high ethical standards,” said UNI Europa Finance Coordinator for the European insurance social dialogue, Vic Van Kerrebroeck. “We will remain alert to any potential negative impacts from the growing use of AI, including making sure that employees are free from unfair bias and discrimination,” he added.

The Joint Declaration also stresses the importance of complying with transparency requirements, including when using and processing data by means of AI and is one of the first of its kind to refer to a ‘People Plan’ for the responsible use of AI throughout the value chain.

“Responsible AI development is crucial for the working conditions of the employees in the insurance sector and the long-term competitiveness of the companies,” said UNI Europa Finance President, Michael Budolfsen. “We encourage companies across the sector to introduce a People Plan to map employees’ skill needs and help develop career paths and training possibilities as AI becomes more common in the workplace.”

Together with promoting a just transition so no worker is left behind by the growing use of AI, the declaration also highlights the need for trustworthy AI.

“The social partners are clear that AI should be used to enhance rather than replace human abilities,” said UNI Europa Finance Director, Maureen Hick. “Guaranteeing the ‘human in control’ principle and respect for human autonomy is the best way of ensuring effective oversight of machines,” she added.

“By stating clearly that AI should be designed and used to enhance rather than replace human abilities, this declaration marks an important step. Furthermore, it’s recognition of the importance of social partners working together is critical to a responsible approach to rolling-out AI in this crucial sector. The next step is for the social partners to continue working together to implement this at national level through collective bargaining,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

The Joint Declaration was agreed following 18 months of negotiations and signed in the presence of the European Commission during the European insurance sector social dialogue meeting. The European insurance social partners will continue to monitor and discuss the development of AI on employment and its social impact on employees and companies in the sector.

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