Originally associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) are in fact very versatile and can be usefully applied to the social economy. However, it is important to regulate them properly and gear them towards delivering benefits for all, allowing everyone to participate, says the EESC in a report issued at its July plenary.
The EESC has drawn up a long list of possible applications for blockchain and DLT that could be of great interest to social economy enterprises. These include tracing donations and fundraising, improving the governance of social economy organisations, authenticating activities, certifying skills, making intellectual property rights and copyright clearer and more certain, providing secure telemedicine and e-care systems and making agricultural products fully traceable and identifiable.
Nevertheless, the huge potential of the new digital technologies, coupled with the considerable investment required, also exposes blockchain technology to the risk of concentration of data and technological networks being subject to speculation, warns the EESC.
It is important that there be public measures to support the development of these technologies in a participatory and accessible way, and the involvement of civil society is imperative.
EU regulation makes sense because this technology uses chains that can be created irrespective of national borders. The large investments required call for coordinated, structured European action.
Read the EESC's opinion entitled Blockchain and distributed ledger technology as an ideal infrastructure for the social economy (dm)