EU backs international group to support blockchain services
The European Commission is backing the formation of an international blockchain association to stimulate the development of distributed ledger technology.
The Commission – the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union (EU) – says that the new International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (IATBA) will be based in the EU “and will be open to any organisation willing to work on the deployment of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies to transform digital services”.
Already a number of banks – including BBVA and Banco Santander – have been quick to say they will join the new association. The IATBA seems to be at first focused on public services and finance. A number of other industries, including wholesale telecoms, are also developing blockchain applications.
The Commission welcomed the move to support the development of blockchain at a roundtable held in Brussels (see picture). The meeting was “an important step towards creating a European community to support the deployment of blockchain in the European Union”, said the Commission.
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for the digital economy and society, Roberto Viola, the director-general for communications networks, content and technology, hosted the meeting at which they welcomed the IATBA plan.
They said in a joint statement: “What makes this association special is its focus on promoting trust in blockchain technology among public authorities and citizens. This association can also now become a natural interlocutor for all the regulators at EU and national level, for instance on standards and regulation. It will also be able to communicate with citizens about blockchain, a technology which should not be associated with obscure cryptocurrencies but with transparency traceability and a secure environment.”
Eva Kaili, a Greek member of the European Parliament, took part in the meeting. In September she called on the EU and the European Commission “to provide the environment of legal certainty that is needed to boost DLTs [distributed ledger technologies] and blockchains in Europe”.
She told the European Parliament at the time: “We need to better understand their key underlying features, such as decentralised distributed databases, disintermediation, the immutability of data, and permissioned and permissionless applications. … However, in addition to their potential, DLTs also raise concerns about data protection, cybersecurity, interoperability, new sources of fraud and environmental issues.”
In April the 21 member states and non-member Norway created the European Blockchain Partnership and agreed to cooperate in the establishment of a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure that will “support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy”.
Since then, five more member states have joined the partnership, bringing the total number of signatories to 27.