The Belgian government has unveiled plans to accelerate the development of a blockchain infrastructure project in Europe during its Council of the European Union presidency in early 2024.
Belgium to focus on a public sector European #blockchain during its EU presidency
The country will promote development of a transnational blockchain infrastructure for the storage and management of official documents, minister for digitisation Mathieu Michel tells…
— Dr Martin Hiesboeck (@MHiesboeck) November 21, 2023
Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s Minister of State for Digitalization, shared with Science|Business media on November 21 the four key objectives the country aims to accomplish during its upcoming presidency.
These goals include establishing a public blockchain for pan-European Union infrastructure and initiatives to address challenges related to the digital economy, online anonymity, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Michel highlighted the idea of building innovative blockchain applications on a common infrastructure overseen by the government, considering the growing number of countries exploring blockchain-based applications.
The Minister of Digitalization also proposed a strategic overhaul of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) project, which was established by the European Commission in 2018.
The project collaborated with the European Blockchain partnership of 27 EU member states, including Liechtenstein and Norway.
The proposed revival would see EBSI renamed ‘Europeum and structured as the European Digital Infrastructure Consortium (EDIC), a legal framework established in December 2022 to enable member states to implement projects.
If implemented, Europeum would serve various purposes in public administration, such as enabling the recognition of driving licenses and other documents across the EU member states.
Additionally, it could streamline procedures like VAT declarations. The infrastructure might also support applications like the digital euro.
Furthermore, Michel noted that creating a public blockchain for pan-EU use goes beyond a technical project; it should be treated as a European and political initiative.
This implies that the initiative involves not only technical aspects but also requires collaboration and commitment on a political level, emphasizing the need for coordinated efforts and support from various European stakeholders.
EU Blockchain Project Is an Alternative to Private Chains
The Minister of Digitalization emphasized the endless possibilities an EU-enabled blockchain infrastructure could bring, particularly in terms of security and transparency.
He referenced the fundamental concept of blockchain technology, noting how data are held in sequential blocks and linked securely to each other in a blockchain network.
Once recorded in a block, data cannot be retroactively changed without altering all subsequent blocks. This inherent immutability makes it challenging for anyone, including hackers, to tamper with recorded information.
Michel noted that the unique blockchain structure underscores the security the proposed EU blockchain project embeds, making it preferable to private alternatives.
Apart from the proposed project integration of blockchain technology, it integrates mechanisms to prevent accidental changes to data by regular users.
“In terms of security, transparency, and privacy, the blockchain can give control back to the citizens of the data that belongs to them,” the Minister said.
However, this is not possible on private blockchains, which are merged with servers outside the EU and often deployed to follow principles of data transparency, which often bring about privacy concerns.
At press time, Romania, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Luxembourg have officially approved or ratified a European plan related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
The project’s headquarters will be situated in Belgium, signaling collaborative efforts among these nations to establish unified regulations for the emerging digital asset and blockchain space.
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