The year 2022 has brought a lot of new developments for the LEOS team and we are happy to share them with you.
We are also extremely pleased to announce that the financing for LEOS for 2023 and 2024 is secured. This new financing will come with an even stronger embrace of ‘open source’ (LEOS is on code.europa.eu), a nearer involvement of Member States and more piloting. But now briefly on the recent history.
In 2022 we intensified our efforts in collaborating with the Member States and piloting LEOS in the Commission, we finalised the reporting on a study exploring the use of AI in drafting legislation (see here) and we migrated LEOS to a code development platform for open source projects.
Member States collaboration
With respect to Member States, building on a successful cooperation with Spain, we continue to explore the use, co-design, and co-development of LEOS by Member States. So far, the feedback is positive. It confirms our assumption that EU Institutions and Member States (at all levels) have similar requirements when it comes to drafting law or developing policy such as close collaboration in teams, intelligent version control, automatic referencing, easy reuse of legal text, and other.
As you know, this is what LEOS has on offer. But also, there are differences. To name a few, each Member State has its own legal acquis/legacy, an own way of drafting and adopting law and of course an own language and legal vocabulary. This all calls for a configurable, flexible, accessible LEOS, and this is exactly what we are working on. And experience shows that it is possible to tune LEOS to one’s own requirements (see e.g., Spain).
The Commission continued its step-by-step roll-out plan introducing LEOS to all its services allowing time for training, pilot testing inter alia for getting firsthand information on the actual use of LEOS, digesting the cultural change implied and proposing improvements. We learned a lot, the obvious and the often underestimated.
The obvious relates to the care required for the planning of the roll-out of a new IT system, the necessity to test in real the drafting of concrete policies, the requirement to involve all levels of the organisation and the importance of immediate and concrete feedback. The often underestimated includes the effort to go full scale (time pressure is often an objective reason to delay change), the hard work needed to change practices and culture (the introduction of IT often begs the question ‘why change’?) and how to deal with a situation that not all requirements are addressed immediately (calling for patience). Yet, we continue to be positive about meeting the goal to introduce LEOS for all acts in the European Commission by 2025.
Piloting new technologies
As to piloting AI, we would like to highlight three use cases we carried out in the study on ‘Drafting Legislation in the era of AI and digitisation’.
The first use case starts by imagining that a user is tasked to draft a new piece of legislation, a kind of ‘overarching’ legislation with lots of references to other regulations. Obviously, this regulation should correctly refer to what exists and is still relevant, reject what is no longer valid and has become obsolete and add/complete/complement/clarify in view of new developments. This can be complex and cumbersome, e.g., many derogations, transitory or time-bound provisions may be in place, or the domain is just massive. AI may come to help. And this is the gist of the use case in which we explored how AI can detect derogations and transitory provisions. In fact, the use case demonstrated logic reasoning using legal norms expressed in a legislative document.
A second use case examined the assessment of an act’s digital readiness. Policies (and legislative acts) are digital-ready if they enable smooth and digital-by-default implementation through the best use of digital technologies and data. Here the idea was to provide whilst drafting a ‘digital ready index’ that indicates the digital readiness of your draft or of any of the legislation you refer to. The use case illustrates the potential of technology to assist the implementation of policy priorities.
A third use case we explored was how AI can be used to document the transposition and consolidation of EU law in Member States. We took as an example the transposition of an EU directive in maritime spatial planning in Italian legislation and visualised ‘at the click of a mouse’ the correlation and divergences. Admittedly, the use case is simple, a one-to-one transposition of a directive in one Member State, but offers a glimpse into what is possible.
The above completes the description of the use cases in the study. As a reminder the other use case covered the data mining of corrigenda. Your ideas on other use case will be welcome. Cooperation makes perfect sense, we are committed to making this easy and happen.
Move to code.europa
At the end of 2022, we migrated LEOS to code.europa.eu, the code development platform for open source projects shared by the institutions of the European Union. We can already report significant progress. There have already been more than 3864 commits and 19 contributors. Our team is implementing e.g., track changes and with third party contractors we are migrating the user interface of LEOS to Angular and are changing the document repository. In principle, anyone can now contribute code. We are currently reviewing the open-source governance, will soon appoint a LEOS product manager and set up an Open-Source Programme Office.
To end, you can find out more on all of the above updates in the next community webinar scheduled for 28 March 2023. More information on the event here.