Blockchain may bring great improvements for the European industry - from start-ups to large corporates, administrations and citizens. It can enable the provision of more efficient services and the emergence of new ones by:
- improving business processes in governments, companies and organisations;
- enabling new distributed business and interaction models based on direct peer-to-peer exchanges without the need for centralised platforms or intermediaries.
EU Actions on blockchain
European Blockchain Partnership
Since April 2018, 26 Member States plus Norway and Liechtenstein agreed to sign a Declaration creating the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) and cooperate in the establishment of a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) that will support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy.
EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum
On 1 February 2018, The European Commission launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. The EU Observatory has for objectives to map key initiatives, monitor developments and inspire common actions, inter alia. Since then it has released two thematic reports, the first one in July 2018 Blockchain Innovation in Europe, and the second one in October 2018 Blockchain and the GDPR.
International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA)
The EU Commission on 6 March 2019 facilitated the foundation of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) in Belgium as global multistakeholder forum for developers and users of Blockchain / Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). The 105 founding members are organisations in Europe, North America and Asia. They together will work through INATBA on establishing a dialogue with public authorities and regulators around the world to foster a convergence of the legal frameworks applying to the distributed network economy. INATBA will also promote an open, transparent and inclusive global model of governance and support the development of interoperability specifications and standards in sectors such as financial services, health, energy, agriculture, mobility or public services.
For further information visit the INATBA website.
Horizon Prize on Blockchains for Social Good
DG Connect is launching the EUR 5 million worth European Innovation Council (EIC), Horizon Prize on "Blockchains for Social Good", open until 2019. This prize provides an excellent incentive to attract developers and interested citizens to this innovative topic.
The challenge is to develop scalable, efficient and high-impact decentralised solutions to social innovation challenges leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology (DLTs), such as the one used in blockchains.
Financing blockchain and distributed ledger technologies projects
So far EUR 141 million have been allocated by the EU to blockchain related projects, and potentially up to EUR 340 million could be committed before the end of 2020.
Under the Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT) research programme, research on Blockchain technologies has been pioneered by a Collective Awareness Programs for Sustainability and Social Awareness (CAPS) project. In addition, projects like D-Cent, DECODE, or MyHealthMyData succesfully use blockchains to address the concerns on centralisation of data.
EU Governments and the European Commission work on blockchain related actions. In May 2017, in the Digital Single Market mid-term review, the Commission recognised blockchain-inspired technologies as having huge potential for our administrations, businesses and the society in general. Also, the Council conclusions of 19 October 2017 (page 7) highlight blockchain, along with artificial intelligence, as "key emerging trends".
There are regular interactions between the European Commission services and the blockchain constituencies, including organisations that envisage to use such technologies and are running proof of concepts or pilots. In the 1st EU blockchain Conference (11th May 2017), online polls from more than 600 participants asked Europe to take leadership on this topic.
Blockchain technology is the best known distributed ledger technology. It avoids one centralised location and the need for intermediaries to perform transactions. Information stored on a blockchain is
These characteristics can bring about high levels of accountability. Blockchain-inspired technologies are being widely discussed around the world and are being tested across multiple industry sectors. Blockchain has the potential to be a break-through technology, capable of disrupting industry and public sector activities. Blockchain can also be instrumental for addressing the increasing concerns about privacy of personal data.
Distributed Ledger Technologies
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), in which blockchain is based, is a revolutionary solution first proposed in 2009. It is key for the development of new financial applications like electronic currencies and the implementation of fully distributed databases which can decentralise data storage and management. This could enable the redesign of an Internet which is less conducive to the centralisation of data in a few proprietary platforms.