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Twenty-two European countries have signed up to create a blockchain partnership, working together to ensure Europe is at the forefront of developing and deploying the distributed ledger technology.
The countries, including the UK, have signed a declaration to create the European Blockchain Partnership, which will act as a vehicle for cooperation across the continent, sharing experience and expertise.
It aims to enable blockchain technologies to “flourish across Europe” and pave the way for the launch of EU-wide blockchain applications across the digital single market.
The document said that by cooperating closely, creating a “European ecosystem for blockchain services and applications”, fragmented approaches can be avoided.
“It can enable the development of interoperable frameworks for blockchain in Europe based on standardised solutions and governance models,” the declaration said. “Such cooperation can also strengthen compliance with regulations and regulatory convergence, which is essential to support scalability of such solutions across borders.”
Earlier this year, the EC set up the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, which will monitor blockchain developments and ensure EU organisations are engaged in the industry.
“Blockchain-based services have the potential to enable more decentralised, trusted, user-centric digital services, and stimulate new business models, benefiting our society and the economy,” the declaration said.
“Such services will create opportunities to enhance services in both public and private sectors, notably making better use of public sector information while preserving data integrity, and providing better control of data by citizens and organisations interacting with public administrations, reducing fraud, improving recordkeeping, access, transparency and auditability, within and across borders.”
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Distributed ledger technology such as blockchain enables data to be stored securely and shared with certain parties through a network. It is best known as a financial services technology because it underpins the cryptocurrency bitcoin, but the use of blockchain outside the finance industry is growing.
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for digital economy and society, said that in the future, all public services will be using blockchain technology.
“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,” she said.
“The partnership launched today enables member states to work together with the EC to turn the enormous potential of blockchain technology into better services for citizens.”