Developments in PIL Reports, recommendations, studies etc.

European Parliament Study on Blockchain for Supply Chains and International Trade

EPBertrand Copigneaux, Nikita Vlasov and Emarildo Bani of IDATE DigiWorld, Nikolay Tcholtchev and Philipp Lämmel of Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, Michael Fuenfzig, Simone Snoeijenbos and Michael Flickenschild from Ecorys, and Martina Piantoni and Simona Frazzani from Grimaldi Studio Legale, have written a Study on Blockchain for supply chains and international trade at the request of the European Parliament.

The study was commissioned by the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

The abstract reads:

This study provides an analysis of blockchain technology in the context of international trade. It analyses the potential impacts of blockchain development and applications in eight use cases for supply chains and international trade. It also provides an analysis of the current legislative framework and existing initiatives.

Based on this analysis, and following a broad consultation of relevant organisations, the study identifies several challenges in international trade documentation and processes, and presents a range of policy options for the European Parliament.

The Study concludes by developing 20 policy options, which are organised in six themes.

Customs facilitation through blockchain

1. The European Commission could act as a bridge between EU customs authorities interested in employing blockchain technology for the digitalisation of customs, with a view to jointly developing further proofs of concept.

2. EU Single Window working groups could run through the blockchain key questions to be addressed within the guidelines developed by the World Economic Forum by means of consultations with authorities, private sector groups and mixed focus groups, to explore whether there is a business case for its development.

3. The European Commission could look to its partners in mutual recognition agreements to explore the possibility of sharing Authorised Economic Operator information via blockchain.

Involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises in the blockchain sphere

4. The European Commission could be encouraged to help SMEs keep abreast of blockchain applications relevant for their particular role in the value chain.

5. Funds could be made available to support collaboration between SMEs as both suppliers of solutions and end-users of global value chains. 

Sustainable trade through blockchain

6. The European Commission could be provided with the budget to scale up the solutions being developed under Blockchain for Social Good, particularly those relating to fair trade.

7. The European Commission could include blockchain technology solutions in the considerations for designing the practical aspects of an EU carbon border tax.

Leadership in standardisation of blockchain technology

8. The European Commission could continue to play a leading role in the standardisation process, continue its close collaboration with international partners and strive to provide a platform to enable the various actors working on pilots and standards to engage with each other in order to avoid fragmentation.

9. The European Commission could make use of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation to further collaborate with various stakeholders on blockchain standardisation.

10. Beyond dialogue with third countries on standardisation, the EU could lead by example and set standards itself by introducing blockchain-based services for example in customs or financial transparency, based on which private actors, third countries, and international standardisation organisations could orient themselves.

11. Support could be given to the work of the European Blockchain Partnership, and collaboration encouraged with the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications, in order to work towards a comprehensive ecosystem of international supply chains using blockchain technology.

Evidence-based policymaking in the area of blockchain

12. Parliament could engage more actively in the work already going on at EU level with regard to blockchain technology and international trade by observing relevant organisations such as the European Blockchain Partnership or asking the European Commission for regular updates on their work.

13. Networks, such as the European Blockchain Partnership, the Observatory and others could be promoted. To this end the Parliament could also promote and fund further research in the area, including a mapping of regulatory readiness in the EU, its Member States and international partners.

14. The European Commission could be made aware that solutions should include reporting indicators and specific plans on how results will be measured, communicated and developed into lessons learned. 

15. Progress of work already being done in piloting blockchain at EU level could be monitored closely and support given for setting up future use cases and pilots under the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure and the Connecting Europe Facility.

16. Use could be made of funding schemes for research and business to support the EU’s efforts in the early stage development of blockchain-related projects in trade and supply chains.

17. In the context of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications, the European Commission could be supported and encouraged to establish a public–private partnership in the area of blockchain for international trade and supply chains.

Awareness raising for the use of blockchain

18. Regarding blockchain’s potential to improve efficiency and support EU values such as transparency, fair trade, and social and environmental responsibility, the EU could promote recognition of the technology and its use in trade and supply chains.

19. Successful proof of concepts, pilots and the available building blocks on the Connecting Europe Facility platform could be promoted among Member States, private stakeholders and citizens to increase familiarity among stakeholders with the technology and its uptake.

20. The European Commission and Member States could be encouraged to make use of their roles as members of international organisations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Customs Organization and the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business to promote trade digitalisation and the use of blockchain technology.

The Study can be freely downloaded here. A Briefing summarizing the findings of the Study is available here.

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