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Rule of law challenges of artificial intelligence & automation in EU border control

Research project The purpose of this doctoral project is to analyse the implementation and use of automated systems within the EU's external border control in relation to principles of the rule of law, as well as to propose how rule of law challenges can be met.

Expected outcomes of the project are to present what are the current rule of law challenges when it comes to the increased use of automated systems and artificial intelligence in EU external border control. The project will propose how these rule of law challenges can be met, for example by analysing how legal requirements related to human control can be used as a safeguard when implementing automated systems by developing a legal theory on "meaningful human control".

Head of project

Amanda Musco Eklund
Other position, doctoral student

Project overview

Project period:

2020-10-01 2026-03-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Law

Project description

What does ‘automated systems’ really mean? A simple description is that machine autonomy is intertwined with the concept of human control, which exists on the same conceptual scale – more machine autonomy equals less human control, and vice versa. The core rule of law problem identified in this project relates to how a high level of machine autonomy (and therefore less human involvement) potentially challenges principles of the rule of law and opens the door to opacity and arbitrariness in the exercise of public power, for example through public decision-making on who may cross a border.

The project makes different case studies to illustrate and analyse current and upcoming rule of law challenges, for example by analysing current developments in EU border control related to automated risk analysis of individuals (such as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System ‘ETIAS’ and the Passenger name record ‘PNR’ regime) and the use of automated technology in border surveillance.

This project is set in a European constitutional context, and therefore applies a substantive understanding of the rule of law. This means it analyses how different rule of law principles, for example the principle of legality and legal certainty, implies substantive requirements on the quality and substance of the law. This project mainly focuses on the principle of legality, which basically is a safeguard against arbitrariness and opacity in the public exercise of power, which includes requirements on the foreseeability, clarity and accessibility of law, as well as limits to discretion. These requirements are all connected to the foreseeability of the exercise of power.

As the project is made in the form of a compilation thesis, the results are presented through publications in peer reviewed articles and a longer comprehensive summary which develops the shared scientific contribution of the articles.

Latest update: 2023-08-09