As many as seven countries in the European Union are banding together to help promote blockchain technology throughout the continent, Financial Times reported December 4, 2018. The list of countries mostly comprises of southern members, including France, Italy, and Spain. The governments of these nations will reportedly explore applications for distributed ledger technology (DLT) outside of digital currencies.
The group was convened at a meeting for EU transport ministers in Brussels, Belgium. The coalition titled the ‘Mediterranean Seven,’ includes France, Spain, Malta, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, and Greece. The declaration signed by these countries acknowledges blockchain technology as an ‘emerging’ industry, alongside wireless 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Ultimately, the member nations agree that technology should be introduced and promoted to the general public with the goal of boosting awareness and adoption.
An Abundance of Use Cases
The declaration continues, “As a technology based on trust, we see Distributed Ledger Technologies as being a potential game changer using – inter alia smart contracts in areas such as certifying product origin, education, transport, mobility, shipping, land registry, customs, company registry, and healthcare amongst others to transform the way that such services are delivered.” Custom blockchain implementations could eventually increase transparency and lighten administrative burdens, which will result in efficient use of government resources.
Distributed ledgers that could benefit the general public further by giving citizens full control over their private data. Reports of data breaches, mishandling, and leaks by major companies have become increasingly common in recent times, even with the current General Data Protection Regulation imposed by the European Union.
On November 27, 2018, Reuters reported that consumer groups in seven countries had filed complaints against Google for tracking users through their mobile phones. The European Consumer Organisation said, “these unfair practices leave consumers in the dark about the use of their data.”
Malta: The Blockchain Island
In an interview with Financial Times, Malta’s minister for innovation said that the country is looking to position itself as the de facto blockchain island in Europe, in spite of its smaller geographical footprint. “Malta is the first world legislator to offer a regulatory environment for all blockchain technology. We are not only interested in cryptocurrencies,” he continued.
Malta has turned into a rather enticing region for blockchain startups around the world. The country has opened its doors to the technology in recent years by passing several bills to solidify a regulatory framework for the industry. The increased interest in Malta is perhaps best exemplified by the numerous companies that have shifted their headquarters to the island nation. Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it would be moving to the country from Hong Kong after increasing pressure from the Chinese government.
Per the declaration, member countries have committed to holding technical meetings at regular intervals to ensure that sufficient progress is being made. The coalition will also seek guidance from the European Commission and potentially expand on the work carried out through the Blockchain Partnership project.