The European Commission has launched the #Blockchain4EU project, which will run until February 2018. The project is an exploration of existing, emerging and potential applications based on Blockchain and other distributed ledgers in non-financial 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 [...] to be better prepared to unlock the new opportunities provided by these technologies for industrial transformations and mitigate potential risks.”

Industries to be transformed

Financial institutions have been the quickest to react to Blockchain technology and study how they can harness its powers to streamline their processes. Beyond the Fintech domain where Blockchain emerged, new uses are now being developed by a plethora of different actors.

These applications leverage the decentralized and tamper-proof solutions to the storage and transaction of value enabled by Blockchain and are coming to the foreground. Their potential to change how manufacturing and business organizations operate, and in particular how they produce and deliver goods and services, is swiftly becoming a tangible reality.

Blockchains are expected to provide a series of benefits in terms of communication, efficiency, security, reliability and transparency, such as helping to reduce fraud and counterfeiting, lowering operational costs, enhancing safety and efficiency of transactions or automating material and digital manufacturing operations.

The European Commission is convinced it is crucial to understand which actions are necessary to prepare for the potential transformations and possible disruptions brought by distributed ledgers to European sociotechnical landscapes.

Main goal

The project’s main goal is to identify, discuss and communicate possible uses and impacts of Blockchain and other DLT-based objects, networks and services across specific areas, from supply chains and assets monitoring, to intellectual property rights and authentication or certification.

The outputs of the project will contribute to assessing risks and opportunities for the development and uptake of Blockchain within the European industrial and business contexts, with a key focus on SMEs, innovation and competitiveness.

They will also help to shape options for regulatory, funding and other broader EU policy responses considering collaborative, decentralized, peer-to-peer and social innovation models.

Innovation in policy-making

The JRC’s EU Policy Lab combines its competencies in foresight, behavioral insights and design for policy to explore and assess Blockchain applications in the non-financial sectors.

Through desk and field research, stakeholder engagement and a series of co-creation workshops, the project aims to:

  • map and analyze existing, emerging or potential Blockchain and other distributed ledger applications in every industry;
  • scan for and explore future scenarios of production, distribution and use; and
  • identify and assess prospective regulatory actions and broader policy and funding options at business and manufacturing levels.

As of late, the European Commission has functioned as a strict proponent of Blockchain technology, though its focus has primarily been on finance technology applications. The announcement of #Blockchain4EU proves the EU has taken steps to become one of the leading regions in the Blockchain race.