Toespraak van staatssecretaris Keijzer (Economische Zaken en Klimaat) tijdens Digital Day in Brussel

Deze toespraak is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels.

Speech by Mona Keijzer, State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, at Digital Day, Brussels.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

I am very pleased to attend Digital Day. 

It is essential that we discuss together how we want to shape our digital future. 

In this context, I am particularly pleased to share with you our Dutch experiences with blockchain. 

“Experience” may sound curious, for such a novel technology: we hardly find ourselves beyond the experimental phase. 

Much of the potential still needs to be realised.

However, blockchain is a good example of a potentially disruptive innovation,  

it could be a game-changer: 

  • It gives people a sense of autonomy in the sometimes chaotic world online. 
  • It cuts down on red tape. 
  • And it creates trust between parties.

So blockchain has clear benefits. 

We need to find out where it has added value.

So the Dutch government has teamed up with science, business and public agencies to explore when blockchain is a feasible option. And what the implications are for society.

My ministry is one of the initiators of this Dutch Blockchain Coalition.

It’s made up of 30 public and private partners – four Dutch ministries (including my ministry); knowledge institutions; and representatives of the financial, legal, logistics and energy sectors. 

The coalition supports the development of useful applications for blockchain technology. 

I’d like to tell you about a few other initiatives that have been started in the Netherlands.

1. Like FairChain coffee. 

This brand aims to give growers more control over the production and distribution of their product and to use fewer middlemen. It pays growers directly via blockchain. This should result in a better price for their product.

2. Another example concerns waste processing. 

Currently, a lot of parties are involved in this sector. And large amounts of data have to be recorded. The inspectorate receives licence applications and transport notifications via email, post and even fax! 

A pilot project is now being carried out, to see if these processes can be automated via blockchain.

3. For my third example, let me take you to Zuidhorn, a town in the north of the Netherlands. 

The local authorities there use blockchain to allocate extra funds in a digital wallet to families living on a minimum income. They can use the money to buy their children books and clothing from local shops participating in the project, or sign them up for sports classes. Purchases are checked automatically in the blockchain database. The system saves parents the hassle of collecting receipts and keeping an eye on their budget themselves. 

Let’s work together

All these initiatives generate a lot of new energy, new ideas and new collaborations. 

Blockchain is by definition collaborative. 

No single country and no single industry can claim to be the owner of blockchain. 

More than other technologies, it enables all countries to share the gains. The only requirement is to be actively involved.

So I’m hoping that we’ll take our cooperation on this technology to the next level. 

There are challenges to using blockchain, and they are the same for all of us. Challenges relating to the technology itself, as well as legal, regulatory and organisational issues. 

But the main challenge of course is identity management – it’s vital to know who we’re dealing with.

The Dutch Blockchain Coalition is working hard to find solutions to these issues. 

And we’re keen to share our experiences with you.

We encourage all Member States to become part of this movement.

So I’m delighted to sign this declaration supporting the establishment of a European Blockchain Partnership. 

The technology for large-scale applications is still in its infancy. In the long run, a blockchain network is costly and complex, and requires people with highly specialised knowledge. 

In this public-private cooperation we can start developing a robust blockchain infrastructure and blockchain applications that meet international standards. 

Let’s join forces in reducing time-consuming red tape. Let’s discover together the potential of this promising technology. 

Thank you.