More countries join European Blockchain Partnership making Europe a leading force in blockchain research
This week, Hungary has joined the European Blockchain Partnership, becoming the 29th member country. The partnership is led by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum, which aims to accelerate blockchain innovation and the development of the blockchain ecosystem within the European Union. More than that, the objective of the forum is to promote education, understanding and research around blockchain.
The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum was launched by the European Commission in February last year. It will see the investment of 300 million euros into projects that support the use and adoption of blockchain technology for economic, technical and societal changes. The forum plans to become an articulator between researchers and the EU, make the most appropriate recommendations, and oversee initiatives and implementations throughout the member countries. It will also aid in creating more appropriate regulations in the region.
The forum is part of the the Horizon 2020 programme, the largest Research and Innovation programme ever launched by the EU. It will make €80 billion of funding available over 7 years, from 2014 to 2020, to support the EU’s reach for excellence in the area.
Blockchain, as one of the most important technologies introduced by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has immense industrial and technical value. The European Commission understands that blockchain is not merely about finance, even though this is the area in which the benefits are already most tangible.
Beyond the finance realm, blockchain can support the development of more sophisticated and secure internet systems, as well as being integrated into other industries beyond finance — such as agriculture, education, healthcare, to name only a few.
In fact, among the projects that have already received funding are two projects focused on services: MHDMD, a blockchain platform to enable safe and effective transmission and storage of medical data; , and DECODE, a system providing tools affording individuals the ability to control whether they keep their personal data private or share it for the public good.
“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,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society at the launch of the partnership.
“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.”
Beyond the hype around cryptocurrencies and ICOs, which often still holds back investment and adoption, blockchain technology can have an immensely positive impact. This advanced technology can help states manage unified digital identities, gain more control over supply chains, introduce smart contracts and even prevent fraudulent actions.
Blockchain is also part of the European Commission’s Fintech Action Plan, a 23-step strategy designed to increase the adoption of new technologies, create a business-friendly environment, increase cybersecurity and consumer protection and allow for integrity of the financial system across the EU backed by new technologies.
The Fintech plan will also present a blueprint with best practices on regulatory sandboxes, based on guidance from European Supervisory Authorities. A regulatory sandbox is a framework set up by regulators to allow FinTech startups and other innovators to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment, under a regulator’s supervision.
“The position taken by the European Commission shows professionalism, commitment and open-mindness towards embracing the benefits of disruptive technologies. It shows the EU understands the potential of blockchain beyond media and market speculation, and serves as an example for other governments around the world who are still reluctant in welcoming this powerful technology,” says Stefania Barbaglio, Director at Cassiopeia Services, leading PR firm in the blockchain space.