European Commission Announces Nonfinancial Blockchain Initiative

In cooperation with the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs (DG GROW), the European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) has announced the launching of the #Blockchain4EU Blockchain for Industrial Transformations initiative. The project, which will run until February 2018, will take a look at how blockchain technology and other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) can be applied to nonfinancial sectors. According to DG GROW’s Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, Slawomir Tokarski:

“Blockchain and other Distributed Ledger Technologies are developing very fast. They have the potential to reshape many business models and we notice a growing interest by companies in the technologies. Many applications are at an early stage, however, and we need already to identify areas where the impact may be most significant and discuss potential challenges with stakeholders. Therefore, we are launching this project together with the JRC’s EU Policy Lab to be better prepared to unlock the new opportunities provided by these technologies for industrial transformations and mitigate potential risks.”

According to the European Commission blog, the project’s objective is to “identify, discuss and communicate possible uses and impacts of Blockchain and other DLT objects, networks and services within EU industrial or business contexts.” As a result, the project will initially focus exclusively on logistical and validation use cases, such as supply chains, assets monitoring, intellectual property rights, and certification authentication.

Outputs from the project will contribute to the risks and opportunities assessment that will ultimately outline the approach that Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will take with blockchain and DLT applications in the future. The initiative will also assist with EU regulatory policy concerning blockchain by “considering collaborative, decentralized, peer-to-peer and social innovation models.”

As of late, the European Commission has functioned as a strict proponent of blockchain technology, though its focus has primarily been on FinTech applications. Last week, the European Securities Market Authority publicized its response to the commission’s proposal on FinTech regulation. Nevertheless, the announcement of #Blockchain4EU proves the EU has taken steps to become one of the leading regions in the blockchain race.