Accelerating blockchain innovation in Europe
The European Union has long recognized the potential of blockchain to spur digital innovation to the benefit of European business and society in both the public and private sector. Europe has also been highly active with regard to blockchain exploration, from the European Parliament’s Blockchain Resolution to the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP), to the newly announced International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA). Not to mention the significant funding made available to blockchain projects through the Horizon 2020 program.
European government leaders realize that robust policy must be grounded in sound information and insight. Considering the nascent and fast-moving nature of blockchain, how could European policymakers gain insight into the state and development of blockchain based solutions in Europe? How could they ensure they hear the concerns and remain in sync with the European blockchain community?
The answer: The European Union Blockchain Observatory & Forum, a two-year project launched by the European Commission with support from the European Parliament. The EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum was designed to provide analysis, discussion, education, and meaningful recommendations to foster blockchain innovation in the European ecosystem.
Making meaningful blockchain policy decisions in Europe
The European Commission selected ConsenSys and its academic partners out of a group of 18 candidates as lead partner of the EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum. As the primary contractor, ConsenSys was asked to set up the Observatory platform and to provide a forum to ensure that all interested stakeholders in the European blockchain community could contribute their expertise and insights to the discussion and ensuing recommendations. The Observatory & Forum is technology agnostic and welcomes views from practitioners of both public and private distributed ledger technologies.
The goals of the Observatory & Forum are as follows:
- To continuously work to identify and monitor blockchain trends and initiatives across Europe and the rest of the world
- To collate insight and expertise from the best European and global resources, and to conduct original research to produce comprehensive, publicly available sources of blockchain knowledge
- To create an attractive and transparent forum where all of Europe’s blockchain stakeholders can share experience, debate issues, and reflect on the future of this new technology
- To make recommendations on the role of European member states seeking to accelerate blockchain adoption and innovation
To achieve these goals ConsenSys works closely with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), as well as prominent academic institutions such as the University of Southampton, the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences, and University College London.
While ConsenSys and the academic partners form an essential core, the EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum was conceived as a pan-European effort, actively seeking input from a wide variety of stakeholders which contribute to the Forum in different ways:
- The Forum’s working groups, consisting of 60 European blockchain thought leaders, are responsible for researching existing initiatives and identifying the potential need for EU action.
- The Forum solicits input from more than 1,000 EU and non-EU-based policymakers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and professionals who contribute on an ad hoc basis.
- The Forum also welcomes views and opinions from the public through the #EUBlockchainCommunity online platform.
Input from these stakeholders is made available through the Observatory & Forum’s various public-facing activities. These include:
- Mapping: The Observatory & Forum has initiated a comprehensive, dynamic mapping of hundreds of blockchain initiatives, events, and resources in Europe and across the globe.
- Analysis and reporting: The Observatory & Forum engages in analysis and reporting on a wide range of important blockchain themes, driven by the priorities of the European Commission, and based on input from its working groups and other stakeholders.
- Education and knowledge sharing: The Observatory & Forum offers several educational resources, including public courses via webinars and similar channels. These resources are available on its website. It continuously reports on its progress and shares news and views through its newsletter, social media, and other communications channels.
- Events and interactive discussion: The Observatory & Forum holds a series of thematic workshops as well as other events geared to facilitate healthy debate and the exchange of ideas.