Blockchain technology has created so much buzz since its debut, unlike anything else in recent memory. A fact that is being widely accepted lately — not only by technology enthusiasts but also by important institutions — is that the application field of blockchain extends far beyond cryptocurrencies and payments. Recent initiatives show that the blockchain has undoubtedly captured the attention of the European Union.
As a distributed ledger that records information that anyone in the world can view at any time, blockchain promotes a secure exchange of value without any need for a central authority such as a bank, government or a financial institution. It is essential for building trust online and is expected to serve as a stable foundation for a fair, secure, and inclusive digital economy.
For such reasons, the blockchain has captured the attention of Europe. Governments, enterprises, academic institutions and the ever-growing blockchain community are discussing what this burgeoning technology can offer European society. Today, Europe has also taken active measures to support the innovation of platforms and applications. A number of initiatives have been created, including the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum.
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner of digital economy and society at the European Commission, launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum on Feb. 1. It is tasked to map existing initiatives within Europe. It’s also meant to monitor trends and emerging issues so that it can be a hub for blockchain technology.
Gabriel sees the blockchain as a game changer. She hopes that Europe can be “at the forefront of its development.” For that to become a reality, the EU has to create an enabling environment where all citizens can benefit from the blockchain industry in its entirety and not just a patchwork of initiatives. The Blockchain Observatory and Forum embodies that purpose. As it seeks to accelerate blockchain innovation within the EU, it also aims to cement Europe’s role as a global leader in transformative technology.
Under the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, there are two groups tasked to research and identify blockchain initiatives all around the globe:
Blockchain Policy and Framework Conditions Working Group: It focuses on cross-industry and cross-technology issues that can help define legal conditions needed to support regulatory predictability for widespread deployment of applications of blockchain tech.
Use Cases and Transition Scenarios Working Group: It centers on the most promising blockchain use cases, especially those involving the public sector — health care, energy and government services, to name a few. The working groups each have 30 members, all of whom were selected from an open call. The groups consist of elite leaders from different fields.