Blockchain technology is increasingly being used for anything from crypto currencies to casting votes. Parliament is working on a public policy to stimulate its development.
Blockchain technology is based on digital ledgers, public records that can be used and shared simultaneously. The technology is probably best known as being the basis for Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, but it is also used in many other sectors, ranging from creative industries to public services.
MEPs now want to help create a public policy that supports the development of blockchain and other related technologies.
Greek S&D member Eva Kaili has written a resolution, which was adopted by Parliament's on 16 May. In it she call for “open-minded, progressive and innovation-friendly regulation”.
However, the MEP warned that the technology could lead to significant changes. “Blockchain and distributed ledger Technologies in general have a strong disruptive element that will affect many sectors," she said. "Financial services is just one." The resolution also looked at the effects of the technologies leading to fewer intermediaries in other sectors such as energy, health care, education, creative industries as well as the public sector.
Kaili.is also the chair of the Science and Technology Options Assessment panel, which provides MEPs with independent, high-quality and scientifically impartial studies and information to help assess the impact of new technologies.
Making the EU the leading player
The EU has an important role to play in cultivating this technology, said Kaili. “We aspire to make EU the leading player in the field of blockchain," she said. "We experience a strong entrepreneurial interest in blockchain. We, as regulators, need to make sure that all this effort will be embraced by the necessary institutional and legal certainty."
Another concern is the impact the technology could have on people and their data. Kaili said that as technology evolves, the risks do too. “It is not smart to regulate the technology per se, but rather its uses and the sectors that adopt this technology in their business models. Consumer protection and investor protection come first.”
The EU has already been promoting the technology. For example, it has already invested more than €80 million in projects supporting the use of blockchain. The European Commission has said around €300 million more will be allocated by 2020.
In addition the Commission launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018.
All MEPs will have the opportunity to vote on the resolution during an upcoming plenary session. If adopted, the resolution will be forwarded to the European Commission for consideration.