On Monday 3 October, the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative Resolution on distributed ledger technologies (DLT) / blockchain.

In the Resolution, the Parliament makes clear that it is keen to make Europe a leading player in the blockchain field. It discusses a range of blockchain use cases including:

  • improving data efficiency and the reporting of clinical trials in the health sector;
  • improving supply chain processes, such as facilitating the forwarding and monitoring of origin of goods;
  • enabling the tracking and management of intellectual property and facilitate copyright and patent protection;
  • streamlining intermediation processes and reducing transaction costs in the financial sector; and
  • reducing administrative burdens for citizens, businesses and public administration in public sector services and management e.g. in connection with public registries, land registry, licensing and migration management.

In addition to identifying various issues and challenges facing deployment of the technology, the European Parliament makes a range of recommendations. In particular, the Parliament:

  • recommends that the Commission and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) provide guidance on how GDPR applies to DLT;
  • recommends that the Commission undertakes an in-depth assessment of the potential and legal implications of smart contracts;
  • stresses that legal clarity is essential for unleashing the potential of ICOs and preventing fraud and negative market signals and calls on the Commission to provide guidelines, standards and disclosure requirements for ICOs, especially in the case of utility tokens;
  • stresses that any regulatory approach toward DLT should be innovation-friendly, should enable passporting, and should be guided by the principles of technology neutrality and business-model neutrality;
  • encourages the Commission and regulators to swiftly build up technical expertise and regulatory capacity, allowing for rapid legislative or regulatory action if and when appropriate;
  • underlines that the EU should not regulate DLT per se, but should try to remove existing barriers to implementing blockchains and calls on the Commission and the Member States to foster the convergence and harmonisation of regulatory approaches;
  • calls on the Commission to assess and develop a European legal framework in order to solve any jurisdictional problems that may arise in the event of fraudulent or criminal cases of DLT exchange; and
  • asks the Commission and the Member States to develop common initiatives to raise awareness and train citizens, businesses and public administrations with a view to facilitating comprehension and uptake of DLT.

The resolution will now be sent to the European Commission for consideration.