Europe’s EESC Concerned Of Blockchain Being Monopolized, Doesn’t Want To See A Digital Divide


The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recently expressed disturbing concerns regarding the future of blockchain technology. In their new report, the EESC advised that public measures should be taken in order to ensure that blockchain's potential as a groundbreaking infrastructure for the social economy remains available and accessible to everyone.

EESC: Blockchain Technology Must Be Available To All

The new report, published yesterday, August 1st, had several key remarks. One of them was the EESC's announcement that it would encourage institutions of Europe to maintain the involvement of more civil society organizations in the European Union's Blockchain Observatory and European Blockchain Partnership.

Blockchain technology has brought new digital infrastructures that are being successfully implemented around the world, Europe included. However, the Committee pointed out that it is not only a matter of technological development. Instead, it includes ‘a fully-fledged process of disruptive social innovation,' as the report puts it.

Giuseppe Guerini, the president of Cecop-Cicopa Europe, and one of the members of the EESC was able to look past blockchain's origins as an underlying technology for cryptocurrencies. In addition, he compared the technology's historical importance to that of landmark inventions in Europe. He claims that there are numerous parallels to be drawn with the invention of devices such as the printing press.

The printing press revolutionized life in Europe, as well as the rest of the world. However, as Guerini points out, the first book ever to be printed was the bible. But, things could have gone a lot differently if the press has been only ever used for printing bibles.

Of course, this did not happen, but something similar might happen to blockchain technology if proper preventive measures are not taken.

A Digital Divide Must Be Avoided

Guerini, as well as the rest of his colleagues from the EESC, have recognized a broad range of blockchain applications, particularly in the social enterprise sector. Blockchain can be used for all kinds of purposes, including donations, as well as fundraising for NGOs. Then, there is the governance of social economy groups; the creation of verifiable, digitized qualifications and diplomas; telemedicine; agriculture; intellectual property rights management powered by smart contracts, and more.

However, the biggest concern is that the blockchain might become unavailable to the public. Simply put, the EU Committee fears that blockchain technology could be monopolized by the so-called digital elite. To make sure that something like this does not happen, the EESC proposes the introduction of public measures that would support that blockchain evolution continues equitably.

Guerini noted that a digital divide must be avoided, as it would only create more injustice and inequality. No one wants to see a new elite emerging, consisting of those familiar with new technologies. It would be far too easy to exclude the rest from the economy and the market, which must be avoided at all cost.

The EESC believes that the involvement of civil society would be crucial in preventing something like that from happening. The decentralized technology would then keep its democratic potential. However, to achieve this, the coordination of EU-wide coordination will be necessary, since the blockchain technology is borderless. One of the earlier moves towards achieving this was seen last year, in February 2018. Back then, the EU Commission launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. This was seen as a big step towards centering the EU economy around blockchain and truly uniting it around a single concept.

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