Seven EU member states have teamed up on a project that aims at promoting the adoption of blockchain technology to improve government services and boost economic development in the region.
France, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Spain, Cyprus, and Portugal– a Southern European bloc – signed the joint declaration on Tuesday, December 4 in Brussels, Belgium.
Apart from promoting the use of blockchain to “transform” the economic well-being of the seven nations, the cooperation is intended to ensure continuous technological advancement in the nascent blockchain industry that would see the region rank as a leading destination in the sector.
The Brussels agreement notes that blockchain technology has the potential to be a “game changer,” one that can significantly improve government services by increasing efficiency and transparency in sectors like education, healthcare, transport, and customs, among other vital services.
The adoption of blockchain-based applications in government operations can also enhance service delivery to the citizens in the region through increased accountability and privacy, the document noted.
The seven-nation economic bloc envisions using the technology to augment e-government services, which can be instrumental in improving transparency.
Furthermore, the Southern EU nations note that their collaboration will result in “reduced administrative burdens, better customs collection and better access to public information.”
On the thorny issue of regulations, the countries want to see elements like decentralization, and technological neutrality being taken into account in future regulatory frameworks within the EU.
Part of the declaration reads:
“We believe that any legislation on Distributed Ledger Technologies should take into account the decentralized nature of such technology and should be based on fundamental European principles and technological neutrality.”
Another proposal the bloc puts forth is for any future regulation to promote the understanding of Distributed Ledger Technologies in both the private and public sector.
According to the group, this is possible if regulations promote “innovation and experimentations” in the DLT industry, which will not only lead to a better understanding from the public but also help in the development of more use cases.
The Southern EU member states are teaming up at a time when one of the countries in the bloc- Malta- has already taken a leading role in the adoption of blockchain technology by providing a friendly environment that supports blockchain-based companies and crypto-related businesses.
Being home to a series of blockchain-friendly initiatives, Malta has over the last few months become known as “Blockchain Island.”
In June, the country’s parliament approved three bills related to cryptocurrency and blockchain a move that saw some leading cryptocurrency businesses move into the country, including the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume trade Binance.
The tiny EU nation also hosted the Blockchain Summit in November, where Malta’s Prime Minister and crypto evangelist John McAfee were among the main speakers.
Another Summit “fully endorsed by the government of Malta” is set for May 2019, highlighting Malta’s growing reputation as a crypto-friendly nation.
After the Tuesday declaration, the Maltese parliamentary secretary for Financial Services Silvio Schembri tweeted that he was “proud” to see EU’s smallest member state take such a “leading role” in blockchain collaboration initiatives.
The EU is yet to regulate the blockchain technology in the region but has indicated it is considering doing so, even though it is also set to launch a $500k blockchain pilot program.
In late September, a Brussels based think-tank released a report that urged all European Union finance ministers to adopt a common approach to the regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Earlier this week, U.K firm Digital Catapult released a report from a survey in which 74 percent of blockchain-based and crypto-related businesses expressed concerns about the regulatory environment in the country.
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