EU Committee: Blockchain Must Not Create a New ‘Digital Economy Elite’

Cryptoinformers || AUGUST 1, 2019

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in a new report focused on blockchain, has advised that public measures should be taken to ensure that blockchain’s potential as a groundbreaking infrastructure for the social economy is accessible to all.  

While some of the key points remains that: "The EESC supports the activities proposed by the European Commission to develop a European Blockchain Partnership, starting with the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum."

The EESC says it would encourage European institutions to encourage the involvement of more civil society organisations in the EU Blockchain Observatory and European Blockchain Partnership.

"The EESC considers that the practical applications of blockchain technologies can significantly improve the performance of social economy organisations, benefiting them, their members and, above all, their end users."

On the successful implementation of new digital infrastructures based on blockchain, the Committee notes, is not purely a matter of technological development but “involves a fully-fledged process of disruptive social innovation.”

Looking beyond the technology’s roots in cryptocurrencies, EESC member and president of Cecop-Cicopa Europe, Giuseppe Guerini, compared the historic importance of blockchain to that of landmark inventions on the continent:

    “We can draw parallels with the invention of the printing press. As we know, the first book to be printed was a bible. Now, imagine if people had equated the printing press with a means capable of printing only bibles — that would have been inaccurate because printing technology revolutionized life in Europe.”

The EESC has recognized a broad gamut of applications for blockchain in the social enterprise sector, including donations and fundraising for NGOs; the governance of social economy organizations; digitized, verifiable qualifications and diplomas; smart contract-powered intellectual property rights management; telemedicine and agriculture — to name just a few.

A key concern, however, in regard to the technology’s evolution, is to ensure that there are public measures in place to support its development in an equitable way. Guerini stated:

    “We don’t want to see a digital divide that creates more inequality and injustice. We don’t want to see a new elite emerging, of people who are familiar with the new technologies and end up excluding others from the economy and the market.”

To this end, the EESC argues that the involvement of civil society is crucial to ensure that the democratic potential of the decentralized technology is not lost. It points to the need for coordinated EU-wide regulation for the sector, given the technology’s application across national borders.