There are several countries around the globe that have been investing in tests and trails of the revolutionary blockchain technology. The countries comprising the European Union (EU) are also in that list. And after several months of trials, observation and monitoring the promising and challenging potential of the distributed ledger technology (DLT), it seems that the EU has finally reached a unanimous decision regarding it, and they are setting their sails towards the blockchain industry.
Back to the Start
Europe’s involvement with the blockchain technology goes back to earlier this year in February, when the European Commission (EC) launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. The main purpose of which was to support European cross-border engagement with the technology itself as well as it’s several stakeholders, all the while uniting the economy around blockchain. Since its launch, the forum has released a total of three thematic reports, which are,
- Blockchain Innovation in Europe
- Blockchain and the GDPR
- Blockchain for Government and Public Sectors
Following this, the forum took the next major step later in April, when 22 countries signed a Declaration that created a European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). 21 of those countries were EU members and the one outsider was Norway. Later, however, the initial number from 22 raised to 27, as five more European countries joined the EBP; Greece, Romania, Denmark, Cyprus and Italy. The fundamental aim of this partnership was in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, energy efficiency and interoperability.
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 (sic)
Said, Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.
Furthermore, another step forward was taken in October when the European Parliament formed a resolution called, “Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains: building trust with disintermediation”. According to this resolution the DLT has the potential to change all the sectors of economy including, finances, health care, transport, education, copyrights, public governance, data protection, etc.
Health care sector
The health care sector was amongst the first ones where the potential of the distributed ledger technology was applied by the EU. In fact, the EU even funded a project with the name, My Health My Data (MHMD), with an aim to leverage the blockchain tech for the safe and effective storage and transmission of medical data. EU is all about more power to the people, as its main focus to implement the blockchain technology is on the protection of personal data, which obviously includes medical data as well.
In addition to that, due importance is also being given to improving the healthcare sector itself including the management as well, with the DLT, through electronic health data interoperability, identity verification and a better distribution of medication.
Since one of the fundamental purposes of the blockchain tech involves improving transparency and reducing transaction costs and any other hidden costs as well, in the financial sector; the EU is looking into that as well.
While the EU may seem like its ready to embrace the DLT, it is however, not entirely fearless about it. The European Parliament in fact, has even expressed concern when it comes to the uncertainty and volatility of cryptocurrencies. Hence the parliament has made it necessary for the EC and the European Central Bank (ECB) to provide effective feedback on the sources of volatility of cryptocurrencies. Plus they are responsible for the identification dangers for the public, and exploring the possibilities of incorporating cryptocurrencies in the European payment system.
The European Parliament seems to be fully aware of the risks related to Initial coin offerings (ICOs), thus it asks the EC and other national regulatory authorities to identify criteria that enhances investor protection and articulates disclosure requirements and obligations for the initiators of ICOs, in order to avoid ICO related risks and scams.
Europe’s Blockchain Future
It was only last week that four significant blockchain companies, Ripple, the NEM Foundation, Emurgo (based on the Cardano blockchain) and “smart ledger” development firm Fetch.AI, formed “Blockchain for Europe” Association. It was revealed that the purpose of this was to lend a helping hand to the EU to shape the global agenda on blockchain.
Europe has its sight set on becoming the global leader in the realm of DLT and it seems like it edging to closer to achieving that goal, with every step it takes to promote the technology at a national level.