European Commission Opens Blockchain Observatory and Forum

The European Commission has launched a Blockchain Observatory and Forum with the express aim of supporting the EU’s emerging fintech industry. The Commission indicated the initiative will aim to reinforce European engagement with multiple stakeholders involved in blockchain activities, consolidating expertise and addressing the challenges created by new technology developments.

“I see blockchain as a game changer and I want Europe to be at the forefront of its development,” averred Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel.  “We need to establish the right enabling environment – a Digital Single Market for blockchain so that all citizens can benefit, instead of a patchwork of initiatives. The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum is an important step in that direction.”

The European Commission has been funding blockchain projects through the European Union’s research programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020 since 2013. Up to 2020, it will fund projects that could draw on blockchain technologies for up to €340 million noted Gabriel.

'I see #blockchain as a game changer and I want Europe to be at the forefront of its development,' averred @EU_Commission #EUDigital @DSMeu @GabrielMariya. Click To Tweet

“Among the many technologies that are driving digital innovation, blockchain has the potential to be truly transformative for financial services and markets,” commented Valdis Dombrovskis, VP responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union. “The Blockchain Observatory and Forum will monitor developments and also inform our policy making.”

In April last year the Commission allocated a two year budget of EUR500,000 to the project, and launched a call for tender for a services contract to set up the observatory – a contract which has been won by ConsenSys. In November, the European Commission outlined proposals to reform financial supervision across the EU with a renewed focus on new technology developments and the promotion of the emerging fintech sector. A Fintech Action plan is currently on the drawing board with a full publication slated for Spring.

According to the European Commission, the Observatory is expected to:

  • provide an up to date overview of relevant initiatives relying on Blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technologies around the world and
  • follow-up closely the developments of this technology and the related challenges and opportunities for European industry, citizens and governments.
  • develop expertise on transversal topics such as infrastructure, governance and validation mechanisms, smart contracts, regulatory and legal challenges, interoperability and standards,
  • build and animate a platform for the European blockchain community
    explore possible use cases with a value added at EU level.
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