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Europe’s blockchain infrastructure starts to go live

EU EC European Parliament Brussels

The first Belgian node of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) went live on February 12. The goal of EBSI is to enable cross-border public services within the European Union (EU), with security and privacy. 

In 2018, EU member states created the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) to cooperate and build the EBSI. Currently, the EBP has 30 signatory countries, all the EU states as well as non-EU members UK, Norway and Liechtenstein. 

The Belgian node was set up by internet provider Belnet. IT services company Smals is now building the second EBSI node for Belgium. 

The EBSI is envisioned as a network of blockchain nodes across Europe, to support use cases prescribed by the European Commission.

Currently, the EBSI has four specific use cases, each led by a member state and a user group. Use cases include notarization to prove data integrity, blockchain diplomas for trusted education credentials, European self-sovereign identity to give users control over their data, and trusted data sharing for cross-border trade, tax, and other systems. 

While current use cases are being developed, the EBP Policy Group is expected to announce new use cases for 2020 soon. 

Later this year, the EBSI will become a CEF ( Connecting Europe Facility) Building Block and provide reusable software, specifications and services to member nations and administrations.

CEF Building Blocks is an EU initiative to share digital services developed under the guidance of the European Commission. It’s planning a digital single market for all EU member nations, and will save time and cost for the development of services. 

The European Commission operates a minimum number of EBSI nodes at the European level. The member states will operate the EBSI nodes at a national level. Belnet says it expects 30 other nodes to be set up by different EU members, creating a network of blockchain nodes covering Europe. All these nodes will be able to validate data and create blocks. 

Multiple blockchain protocols will be supported including Hyperledger Fabric to start with, as well as Spanish consortium Alastria‘s Quorum implementation of Ethereum.

ebsi blockchain stack

The European Commission (EC) is pushing for blockchain use cases and is also funding a few projects in member countries. A few months ago, EC contributed €100 million for a blockchain and AI program launched by the European Investment Fund (EIF). 

The European Union Science Hub recently published a report ‘Blockchain Now and Tomorrow’, which explores numerous use cases. 

Last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it was funding blockchain firm SpaceChain UK which aims to build an open-source satellite network. The ESA recently partnered with UK firm Hypervine to combine satellite data and blockchain for mining and extraction activities. 

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is exploring digital euro as a retail and wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) and is experimenting with blockchain. 

Update: The support of multiple blockchain protocols was added