The economic minister’s meeting of the German-speaking countries took place in Vaduz in mid-October. Digitalization and blockchain were part of the agenda, as Liechtenstein’s neighbors are considering to introduce their own blockchain-specific legislation.
The ministers of the economy of the four German-speaking countries meet every year to discuss economic challenges and current economic trends and developments. Last month, Liechtenstein‘s Deputy Prime Minister Daniel Risch invited his German-speaking counterparts from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to Vaduz.
The focus of the meeting was the economic situation in the region, the current international trade tensions, Brexit negotiations, and digitalization. Especially the latter was of interest to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, as Liechtenstein has recently finalized its Blockchain Act and positioned itself as a frontrunner within this space.
Daniel Risch said, „The increasing digitalization of the economy and the emergence of new digital business models are without any doubt a driver of innovation for nations competing to be the most attractive economic location. Therefore, businesses and politicians need to actively support these developments by creating ideal conditions.”
Germany wants to learn from Liechtenstein’s experience
Liechtenstein’s Blockchain Act was of particular interest for the international guests, who hope to learn from Liechtenstein’s experience. Germany’s minister Peter Altmaier said Liechtenstein is highly industrialized considering its small size. He says the county has taken the best route to compete on the international market.
Compared to Germany and most other nations, Liechtenstein has not much to offer in terms of natural resources, trade or economies of scale. Therefore, the government has set out to attract innovative technology businesses by creating a favorable and supportive legal environment.
Its neighboring countries have acknowledged Liechtenstein’s progress and are interested in knowledge exchange. Altmaier said he hopes to learn from Liechtenstein and would welcome the government’s support and advice regarding blockchain technology.
Altmaier wants to facilitate a more in-depth exchange between the two countries, in particular regarding blockchain-specific legislation. He even said Germany was also interested in creating its own Blockchain Act.
Just two months ago, the German government had published its official blockchain strategy. Part of the strategy is to create draft legislation for fully digital securities by the end of the year. Such legislation would not be nearly as comprehensive as Liechtenstein’s Blockchain Act, but it goes into a similar direction. Thus, Germany can learn from Liechtenstein’s experience in this field.
Switzerland considers a Swiss version of the Blockchain Act
Likewise, Guy Parmelin, Minister of the economy in Switzerland, said he could imagine Switzerland to introduce a Blockchain Act. Just like Liechtenstein, Switzerland has also positioned itself as a crypto-friendly nation, trying to attract blockchain businesses.
However, so far, Switzerland has not created blockchain-specific legislation. Instead, the government had previously said it wants to amend existing legislation instead of creating entirely new laws.
Parmelin said during the meeting the federal structure of Switzerland makes it more challenging to create new legislation. The federal government, the single cantons, and the economy will have to get together to agree on the way forward.
As always, at such meetings, there has not been any concrete outcome. But the mere fact that blockchain was on the agenda and the neighboring countries look at Liechtenstein as a potential role model, trying to learn from the achieved progress, is a good sign.