Some 22 European countries have this week signed an agreement to collaborate and work on creating EU-wide blockchain applications, in an attempt to support the EU Digital Single Market and avoid fragmentation across member states.
The Declaration on the Establishment of a European Blockchain Partnership aims to ensure that the EU plays a leading role in the development and rollout of blockchain technologies.
The countries that signed the Declaration include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Blockchain is best known for underpinning cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but its applications have been growing in popularity well beyond this - including in the broader financial and charity sectors.
Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger that creates a shared and unalterable record of events. The European Commission believes that blockchain could be used to promote user trust, as it makes it possible to “share on-line information, agree on and record transactions in a verifiable, secure and permanent way”.
The Commission’s release points to its potential to underpin and support applications in regulatory reporting, energy and logistics.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, welcomed the signature of the declaration and said:
In the future, all public services will use blockchain technology. Blockchain is a great opportunity for Europe and Member States to rethink their information systems, to promote user trust and the protection of personal data, to help create new business opportunities and to establish new areas of leadership, benefiting citizens, public services and companies.
The Partnership launched today enables Member States to work together with the European Commission to turn the enormous potential of blockchain technology into better services for citizens.
The European Commission believes that the decentralised and collaborative nature of blockchain and its applications will allow member states to exploit the “full scale of the Digital Single Market from the outset”. It hopes that close cooperation can help avoiding fragmented approaches and can ensure interoperability and wider deployment of blockchain-based services.
The Commission’s release states that “the Partnership will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment, in full compliance with EU laws and with clear governance models that will help services using blockchain flourish across Europe”.
The European Commission also launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018 and has already invested more than EUR 80 million in projects supporting the use of blockchain in technical and societal areas. Around EUR 300 million more are to be allocated to blockchain by 2020.