Home Blockchain EU nations back ‘Europeum’ entity to drive blockchain for public services

EU nations back ‘Europeum’ entity to drive blockchain for public services

European Commission: the ‘EUROPEUM-EDIC’ is a new legal entity created by a consortium of nine EU member states as they look to encourage blockchain initiatives | Credit: Ian Hall (main photo) & European Commission (inset photo)

A new legal entity is to be created by a consortium of nine European Union (EU) member states to facilitate the use of blockchain to deliver public services.

The European Commission said in an announcement that it had adopted a decision to create the ‘Europeum-EDIC’ as part of a programme of European Digital Infrastructure Consortiums (EDICs) – a mechanism for multi-country projects created under the ‘Digital Decade Policy Programme 2030’, which itself was announced just under 18 months ago.

EDICs are designed to allow member states in the 27-nation bloc to pool funding and other resources in a ‘flexible and efficient way, to invest in transformative digital projects and to ensure common standards and interoperability’.

The Commission stated that the new entity ‘will further deploy and expand the exploitation of’ the pre-existing European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) to deliver EU-wide cross-border services, ‘in particular’ public services.

The Europeum-EDIC involves Belgium – as hosting country (and current holder of the rotating EU presidency) – alongside Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia. Poland has also ‘officially asked to join’ and further member states are ‘expected to express interest,’ the Commission states. They would be able to join as members or observers, as can countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Blockchain’s ‘revolutionary potential’

The EU states in its overarching blockchain strategy that the technology ‘allows people and organisations who may not know or trust each other to collectively agree on and permanently record information without a third-party authority’. It states that ‘by creating trust in data in ways that were not possible before, blockchain has the potential to revolutionise how we share information and carry out transactions online’.

The Commission itself states that it ‘strongly supports’ blockchain through its policies, legal and regulatory considerations, as well as funding.

It believes that the European public sector is ‘playing a trailblazing role’ in blockchain by building its own blockchain infrastructure, which, ‘over time will include interoperability with private-sector platforms’. 

EBSI has deployed a pilot network with more than 40 ‘nodes’ across Europe for trial projects. These include initiatives focused on the sharing and verification of credentials (of citizens or organisations) in sectors including education. EBSI is also used by the Spain-headquartered EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for piloting anti-counterfeiting work and other traceability use-cases.

‘It [EBSI] combines blockchain and other web3 technologies like verifiable credentials, providing solutions to make information very easy to verify and almost impossible to fake,’ the ‘EUROPEUM-EDIC’ announcement states (web3 is a term used to describe the ‘next iteration’ of the internet, built on blockchain technology). ‘The rise of deep fakes, generative AI and fraud in general is a main driver for the investment in EBSI.’

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Supporting cross-border efforts

The Europeum-EDIC announcement states that the new entity will ‘support cross-border co-operation between public authorities on web3 and decentralised technologies, promoting innovation and interoperability of such solutions with other technologies.’

It also states that the new entity aims to ‘reinforce trust and cyber resilience in compliance with EU regulation, including the newly adopted European Digital Identity framework’. New EU digital ID regulation, known as eIDAS 2.0, was adopted by the European Parliament in February.

EBSI was created in 2018 when all 27 EU members states, as well as Norway and Liechtenstein, and the Commission joined forces to create the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). This has representatives from the 29 nations – from Austria’s Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs to Sweden’s Ministry of Infrastructure.

It has developed the ‘EBSI Experience Centre’ – a dedicated space in Brussels (Belgium) that is described as providing an ‘immersive experience into the future of the internet – the so-called “Web3” revolution’ and described as ‘the first public web3 lab of the EU Commission’.

Further European Commission-backed blockchain initiatives include the ‘European Blockchain Sandbox’, which was launched in February 2023. A ‘Best Practices Report’ was published in February 2024.

An event titled ‘W3BSI, Trust Reimagined’ was held in Brussels on 7 May to showcase the EBSI ‘ecosystem’ and look ahead to Europeum-EDIC.