Blockchain in Europe

The European Commission partners with ConsenSys and launches the EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum.

The European Commission has launched the EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum. The initiative aims to “highlight key developments of the blockchain technology, promote European actors, and reinforce European engagement with multiple stakeholders involved in blockchain activities.”

“Technologies like blockchain can help reduce costs while increasing trust, traceability and security,” Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said in a statement.

Ansip highlighted the “huge potential” of blockchain “for making social and economic transactions more secure online by guarding against an attack and removing the need for any middleman.”

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society portfolio at the European Commission, defined blockchain technology as “a game changer.”

She added that entering the blockchain space is key for the EU in order to position Europe “at the forefront of its development.”

This is a further step in implementing better policies and activities around blockchain, while giving the European Union an important voice. In November 2016, the European Commission created a Task Force on Financial Technology to develop a comprehensive strategy on fintech. Furthermore, the Commission is currently working on a FinTech Action Plan to be presented in the spring.

According to Bloomberg, the EU push “is one of several to try to ensure research projects across” the bloc and to better coordinate their efforts.

Bloomberg reports that the European Central Bank (ECB) has also been looking for ways to harness the new technology, while ECB President Mario Draghi said in May the central bank was closely watching blockchain innovation to ensure that its adoption around the euro area doesn’t fragment payment systems.

The newly-established EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum will operate in partnership with ConsenSys to help with outreach initiatives in Europe.

ConsenSys — which has just joined the Government Blockchain Association to commit “to educating and supporting the global public sector,” as explained by Alexander Kostura in a LinkedIn post— will work in close cooperation with the European Commission to run the Observatory.

The EU statement explains that the Observatory will “play an active role in helping Europe to seize new opportunities offered by blockchain, build expertise, and show leadership in the field.”

It added: “It [the Observatory] will be gathering information, monitoring and analyzing trends, addressing challenges and exploring blockchains’ socioeconomic potential.”

The new entity will also facilitate more cooperation in the blockchain space, new partnerships with all interested stakeholders — technologists, innovators, citizens, industry stakeholders, public authorities, regulators and supervisors.