Six EU Member States Sign Agreement on Encouraging Innovation with Distributed Ledger Technology

  • Malta and few other Southern European nations including Cyprus, France, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Spain have signed a joint agreement.
  • The terms include cooperation regarding distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The Maltese government has announced that a joint declaration of cooperation regarding distributed ledger technology (DLT) has been signed by the island nation’s authorities and by their counterparts from six other Southern European nations including Cyprus, France, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

In a released joint-statement that was signed in Brussels on December 4, the ministers from the countries noted that the “digital sphere is an ideal policy area to embark on further cooperation … [and that they aim to make] Southern Europe a leader on emerging technologies, such as Distributed Ledger Technologies.”

The joint statement also mentioned that other emerging technologies such as the new 5G communications standard, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence have shown the potential to transform world economies. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index, Southern European nations are likely to be among the world’s leading nations in terms of adopting the latest digital technology.

Distributed Ledger Technologies Are A "Game-Changer"

The document further stated that the cooperating nations believe DLT-based platforms can help promote “democratization of the European economic model and that the use of such a technology may lead to more cooperation in the Mediterranean basin.” Going on to explain how DLT, to some, is a technology “based on trust”, the joint statement noted: 

We see Distributed Ledger Technologies as being a potential game changer using – inter alia smart contracts in areas such as certifying product origin, education, transport, mobility, shipping, land registry, customs, company registry, and healthcare amongst others to transform the way that such services are delivered.

The document also explained that adopting DLT-enabled systems would enhance “e-government services”, allow for greater transparency, make administrative processes more efficient, improve customs collection, and enable “better access to public information.” Additionally, the statement acknowledged the ability of DLT to enhance “accountability and privacy for the end-users.”

Need For Appropriate Legislation, Promoting Innovation 

Moreover, the document noted that the “promotion of privacy” through blockchain “enhanced solutions could be a way forward, empowering citizens to be in control of their own personal data.” The joint release from the European nations emphasized the importance of the development of proper educational programs for DLT and other emerging technologies.

The statement from Malta’s and Southern European ministers called for appropriate legislation on distributed ledger technologies - which “should take into account [their] decentralized nature ...  and should be based on European fundamental principles and technological neutrality.”

Furthermore, DLT legislation should be formulated in a manner that it does not stifle innovation and it must also allow for “experimentations ... in order for the public and private sector to better understand” DLT.