Calls for European Parliment to Approve Robot Law

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European lawmakers have called for an EU-wide legislation to regulate the rise of robots. Then proposed legislation would incorporate an ethical framework for their development and use, as well as for the establishment of liability for the actions of robots.

However, calls for owners to pay a ‘robot tax’, which was put forward to support the retention of workers who may otherwise be replaced by robots, was rejected. 

The European Commission is not obliged to follow the proposal, but must give reasons if it chooses not to.

"The EU needs to take the lead on setting these standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by third countries," the parliament said in a statement.

Those in the robotics industry fear that such a tax will hinder innovation and stunt development in important fields.

"The IFR believes that the idea to introduce a robot tax would have had a very negative impact on competitiveness and employment," said the International Federation of Robotics.

Many argue that automation and the use of robots create new jobs by increasing productivity. This strengthened by a correlation between robot density and employment in advanced industrial nations.

In 2015, worldwide shipments of industrial robots increased by 15 percent according to the latest statistics from the IFR. This rise was worth around $46 billion. Demand for service robots for medical, domestic and personal use are sectors that have undergone substantial growth in recent years. 

The parliamentary resolution on the amended report was passed by 396 votes to 123, with 85 abstentions. MEP Mady Delvaux, the report's author, conceded she was disappointed that lawmakers "refused to take account of possible negative consequences on the job market".