Vice president of the European Commission (EC) Andrus Ansip has called for Europe to become a world leader in blockchain technology. Ansip said this at the EC’s Digital Day 2018 convention in Brussels on 10 April.

Ansip, who is also European Commissioner of the Single Digital Market, told the convention that Europe’s position as a leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) positions the EU to take a prominent role in blockchain technology.

He urged EU governments to invest in blockchain technology both “politically and financially” as it emerges “out of the lab” and goes mainstream as other regions outside of Europe are clearly positioning themselves as business competitors. He pointed out that financial investment would be key and that “none of this comes for free”.

Talking specifically about blockchain technology, the conference’s Blockchain Partnership Initiative referred to “impressive investments in blockchain start-ups” in its preamble. It read:

“A significant number of member states have already started to pioneer blockchain initiatives with the aim of developing and reinforcing local innovation ecosystems and aiming to create governmental services on the blockchain.”

In total, 22 European countries have signed a declaration on the establishment of a European Blockchain Partnership, including Germany, France, and the UK. A significant project underway is in the field of healthcare. The EU’s My Health My Data (MHMD) project “aims to use blockchain technology to enable medical data to be stored and transmitted safely and effectively”.

Another blockchain project, DECODE, is “exploring and piloting new technologies that give people more control over how they store, manage and use personal data generated online”.

The Digital Day event aimed to bring together professionals from across the spectrum of digital technology and communication to promote the building of a “digitally strong EU”.

The EU has already invested more than EUR 80 million in projects supporting the use of blockchain in technical and societal areas. It promised that another EUR 300 million more is to be allocated to blockchain support by 2020.

 

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