While many individual countries are way ahead in terms of having established their own blockchain associations, this is the first tentative step towards a harmonised and unified approach as too how the technology can be utilised in the private and public sectors across the single digital marketplace.
Early adoption of the technology is sweeping financial markets and this will pave the way for government institutions whom, it could be argued, have the most to gain from its application. 2018 has been touted as the year that big government at last sat up and took notice of blockchain’s possibilities and this would seem to support that.
List of countries signatories of the Declaration: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK.
The EU Commission already funds blockchain research programmes including DECODE, a project exploring and piloting new technologies that give people more control over how they store, manage and use personal data generated online, and My Health My Data (MHMD) aims to use Blockchain technology to enable medical data to be stored and transmitted safely and effectively.
The European Commission also launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018 and has already invested more than EUR 80 million in projects supporting the use of blockchain in technical and societal areas. Around EUR 300 million more are to be allocated to blockchain by 2020.
The European Union has been cited by many Blockchain evangelists as an organisation that reap incredible benefits from blockchain solutions that can provide secure information storage, verification and transmission. While the EU’s diverse nature is its greatest strength, it has often been held back by the incompatibility of member states’ administration systems. How a decentralised administrative system would enhance the centralised model of governance in the EU remains a question the EU Commission considers worth exploring.
Certainly the benefits for the EU in terms of bureaucratic efficiency both at national and international levels are clear. Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, welcomed the signature of the declaration:
"In the future, all public services will use 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. 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".