Estonia joins a European blockchain partnership

Twenty-two European countries, including Estonia, on 10 April signed a declaration with the aim to establish a European blockchain partnership that sets the terms for cooperation to exchange experience and expertise in technical and regulatory fields.

The declaration also prepares the signatory nations for the launch of EU-wide blockchain applications across the digital single market for the benefit of public and private sectors, the European Commission said in a statement.

“Blockchain is technology for promoting user trust,” the commission said. “It makes it possible to share online information, agree on and record transactions in a verifiable, secure and permanent way.”

“The technology is already being successfully tested, mostly in financial services, and will become more operational and integrated into increasing number of digital services, such as regulatory reporting, energy and logistics in the coming years,” the commission added.

Exploiting the full scale of the digital single market

The countries that signed the declaration were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

According to the European Commission, the decentralised and collaborative nature of blockchain and its applications allows exploiting the full scale of the digital single market from the outset.

“Close cooperation between member states can help avoiding fragmented approaches and can ensure interoperability and wider deployment of blockchain-based services,” the commission said. “The partnership will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment, in full compliance with EU laws and with clear governance models that will help services using blockchain flourish across Europe.”

The European Commission also launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in February 2018 and has already invested more than €80 million in projects supporting the use of blockchain in technical and societal areas. Around €300 million more are to be allocated to blockchain by 2020.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. A blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data and therefore secure by design. This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management, transaction process or voting.

Blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto (the name used by the unknown person or people) in 2008 for use in the cryptocurrency bitcoin, as its public transaction ledger.

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The cover image is illustrative.

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