Emergent Tech

EU hitches its cart to the blockchain bandwagon

Let's set up an observatory, maybe think about governance

By Rebecca Hill

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Not wanting to be too late to the blockchain party, the European Commission has launched a forum to keep an eye on developments and pool ideas on governance.

The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum has the lofty aim of being a centre for discussions about the tech and how it can be used, as well as a link between regulators, entrepreneurs and industry.

"I see blockchain as a game changer and I want Europe to be at the forefront of its development," said digital economy commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

"We need to establish the right enabling environment – a Digital Single Market for blockchain so that all citizens can benefit, instead of a patchwork of initiatives."

The Commission said the observatory would "play an active role" in helping the EU "show leadership" in blockchain – although arguably other nations have taken the reins when it comes to threatening extra regulation.

The EU observatory, though, appears to be suggesting a less aggressive, regulatory-focused approach, which might win friends in the industry.

It said that the aim was to offer an "open forum" for technologists, citizens, public authorities and regulators to "discuss and develop new ideas... in an open way".

The observatory, meanwhile, will be"gathering information, monitoring and analysing trends, addressing challenges and exploring blockchains' socioeconomic potential".

The Commission said that it planned to work with member states to try to "consolidate" initiatives, and promised to work on mapping blockchain initiatives across the bloc.

It also promised work on governance and interoperability, as well as pledging to broaden EU financing of pilot projects in areas beyond the finance sector, such as health, government and transport.

The Commission said, up to 2020, it will fund projects "that could draw on blockchain technologies for up to €340m".

ConsenSys – a group of technologists and entrepreneurs – has been chosen as a partner to work with the Commission in developing the observatory. ®

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