EC launches blockchain regulatory sandbox for 20 projects annually through 2026

The European Commission announced the launch of the European Blockchain Regulatory Sandbox on February 15th. give space for regulatory dialogue on 20 projects per year until 2026.

The sandbox was first announced in 2020 and is backed by a number of private firms that won tenders in 2022. Funding will come from the Digital Europe programme. The projects will be selected by an independent panel of academic experts on a competitive basis from the use cases of “Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies” in the public and private sectors.

Among the applicants, public sector projects on the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) will be considered. EBSI is a pan-European blockchain operated by the EU partnership with Norway and Liechtenstein.

Members of the annual sandbox cohort will be matched with national and European regulators to receive confidential legal and regulatory advice, while regulators will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with new blockchain technology.

The deadline for applications for the first group of projects is 14 April. Projects must have a proof of concept, validated according to specifications, and have a cross-border dimension.

Projects already selected by government officials for deployment will take precedence. Companies must be based in the European Economic Area (EEA). These companies work in consortium with companies outside the EEA if the beneficiary of the project is a company from the EEA. Participants’ expenses are not reimbursed.

Selected projects will receive a written legal review followed by two virtual meetings with participating regulators. The EBSI Early Adopters Incubator Program is also accepting applications from its third cohort.

A similar sandbox program was proposed in US Representative Patrick McHenry’s Financial Services Innovation Bill. The UK could also get a similar sandbox program in the next round of its financial services reforms.

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