What has happened?

The EU Parliament believes that small businesses could benefit from integrating blockchain technology.

What does this mean?

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee has approved recommendations on how to apply the blockchain model to other areas than cryptocurrency, in order to cut intermediation costs for small firms and empower citizens.

The committee also hopes that this will also enable the EU to become a global leader in the blockchain field.

In a press release, the committee said:

"Citizens could use blockchains to gain full control of their own data and decide what to share, and small firms and innovative start-ups could use them to cut intermediation costs and ensure that transactions are executed efficiently, the approved text says."

Areas that would particularly benefit include energy consumption, healthcare, supply chains, transport, finance and the creative industries.

In particular, the committee said that blockchain could be used to:

  • monitor the origin of goods, offering greater certainty that, e.g., diamonds are ethically sourced, clothes are not made in sweatshops and a bottle of champagne comes from Champagne,
  • “democratise” the energy market, by enabling households that produce energy to exchange and consume it without the need to pay an intermediary agency; and
  • create records such as land registries, birth certificates and business licences with less dependence on lawyers, notaries and government officials.

The release states that committee members called on the EU Commission to set regulatory rules for blockchains and other distributed ledger technologies that are "innovation-friendly and technology neutral".

They also asked to include funding for emerging blockchain research and projects in the post-2020 EU long-term budget.

In addition, the committee also approved an oral question to be posted to the EU Commission about blockchain during a plenary session next month.

Rapporteur Eva Kaili said:

"Today the Industry Committee voted univocally in favour of a forward-looking technology that we expect to change the quality of our life, empower SMEs and improve business models in most industrial sectors. Blockchain is a cutting-edge technology and we aspire to make EU the global leader in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution".

Next steps

If you want to take advantage of blockchain's huge potential and disruptive impact, while avoiding falling foul of ever-developing regulatory and legal requirements, visit our Hogan Lovells Engage Blockchain Toolkit.

Receive free news and analysis – written by Hogan Lovells' world-leading legal teams and tailored to your preferences –  by registering on Engage. You can also access our cutting-edge interactive Lawtech tools, designed to help you make better decisions and save time and money.

 You can also keep track of all the Engage content by following our LinkedIn page.