The European Commision (EC) has launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum (BOF) to consolidate and grow blockchain initiatives within the European Union (EU), the Commision said in a press release on Thursday.
The EU launched the conservatory in partnership with ConsenSys, a startup in the ethereum ecosystem. Up to 2020, the endeavor is planned to fund projects that could draw on blockchain technologies for up to €340 million.
The European Commission has been funding blockchain projects through the EU's research programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020 since 2013.
ConsenSys to provide expertise to blockchain
The Commission first announced this initiative in spring 2017, saying it wanted to expand institutional knowledge of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. After a holding tender in July 2017, ConsenSys was selected as the EU’s partner to support the Observatory’s outreach in Europe.
"As an important actor in the blockchain community, ConsenSys will bring strong commitment to blockchain development, solid expertise and connections with the global blockchain ecosystem, and an entrepreneurial approach to engage with stakeholders and experts in the EU and worldwide," the EC said, revealing the partnership.
ConsenSys is a global venture production studio developing software primarily for the ethereum blockchain.
“It is a mission of ConsenSys to enable open, transparent cooperation between citizens, institutions and governments,” Ken Timsit of ConsenSys France said, according to Bitcoin Magazine.
ConsenSys aims to manage the initiative in cooperation with the Commission. It will also coordinate the preparation of a number of research reports, and organize workshops and events in order to collect input and feedback from a large number of stakeholders.
EU to ensure blockchain tech initiatives can work
The BOF is a pilot project proposed by Member of the European Parliament Jakob von Weizsäcker, who is responsible for the recent report on virtual currencies. The project, which has the support of the European Parliament, is intended to support the Commission’s work on financial technology.
European innovators and entrepreneurs are already offering blockchain-based solutions. Major players from traditional sectors, like banks, insurances, stock exchanges, logistics or companies are engaged in pilot projects. Many Member States have announced initiatives as they seek to reinforce their use of blockchain technology.
One of the European Commission’s aims is to ensure those projects can work across borders, consolidate expertise and address challenges such as disintermediation, trust, security and traceability by design.
One of the concerns is the many initiatives from banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges and other business sectors, leading to diverse systems that cannot work together.
“I see blockchain as a game changer and I want Europe to be at the forefront of its development. We need to establish the right enabling environment, a Digital Single Market for blockchain so that all citizens can benefit, instead of a patchwork of initiatives. The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum is an important step in that direction,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.