On April 10, 2018, to 21 EU member states and Norway signed up to create the European Blockchain Partnership. Major European powers such as the UK, France, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, committed themselves to “cooperate in the establishment of a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) that will support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy.”
To date, 5 other European countries have signed up to commit themselves to the partnership, with Italy becoming the latest to do so after it signing the Partnership’s Declaration last month. As a new member, it has committed itself to helping to identify, by the end of the year, “an initial set of cross-border digital public sector services that could be deployed through the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure.” The introduction of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to European infrastructure due to the Partnership, was done in the hope that international such as those related to logistics and regulatory reporting are made safer and much more efficient.
However, progress towards the attainment of this goal has been slow and inconclusive with the member countries signed up to the partnership only having held three meetings to discuss the DLT agenda since way back in April. Nonetheless, the partnership retains ambitious plans. Speaking to blockchain publication Cointelegraph, the European Commission revealed that it wants the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) to become an international “gold standard” for large-scale DLTs.
The Partnership does not have a clearly defined mission as yet. Granted, there was already an agreement in April that it would focus on developing cross-border, blockchain-based public services, there is still yet to be an actual consensus on what particular services to close in on and develop. The European Commission’s head of Digital Innovation and Blockchain, Pēteris Zilgalvis attempted to address this by stating; “The Partnership’s mission is defined in the Joint Declaration and it is on that mandate that we have to deliver before the end of the year. In the Joint Declaration, the signatories committed to working together and with the European Commission in order to develop an EBSI that can support the delivery of cross-border digital public services in Europe. So the description of what this services’ infrastructure [EBSI] could look like is what we are currently working on.”
Basically, talks on what blockchain services to develop are still at a very early stage but he explained that he expected that all the fundamental details would be agreed upon by the close of the year. This means that members of the European partnership are in for a very busy two months before the close of the year. The body may not have achieved much courtesy of only meeting three times in 6 months, but one thing is undeniable though, these member states represent a huge endorsement for the Blockchain which is a great thing. While this is encouraging, questions still come up as to when the partnership will commence the building of the platforms it was set up to build. Peteris Zilgalvis addressed this question as well stating that; “These deliverables [functional and technical specifications, governance model] will be addressed to the political representatives who signed the Declaration, and if approved, the Partnership could move into implementation mode in 2019.”