The European Commission, an institution of the European Union, plans to launch a new blockchain initiative called the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (IATBA). The association would be legally set up in the first quarter of 2019, according to a report published Tuesday by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), a Spanish banking group that was invited by the European Commission to join the association.

IATBA would aim to bring together companies engaged in exploring the potential of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to transform digital services at a global level. The BBVA announcement said the financial services group would join IATBA along with four other banks, but did not reveal the names of the other banks in the report.

The initiative was announced Tuesday at the EU blockchain roundtable event, called “Bringing industries together for Europe to lead in blockchain technologies,” in Brussels. The event itself was aimed to garner support from private blockchain and DLT experts to contribute to the EU’s strategy regarding these technologies.

"This association will work to promote interoperability between these technologies [blockchain and DLT], develop sector-specific guidelines and protocols, promote EU standards across the world and provide information for the implementation of Europe’s blockchain strategy," the BBVA report read.

Adding on to the prospective roles the association could undertake, BBVA’s head of research & development Carlos Kuchkovsky said: "The association could have an important role to play in terms of establishing blockchain best practice and standards and at avoiding fragmentation on a European level."

Kuchkovsky also believed IATBA would help provide more clarity to the “regulatory uncertainty” that currently surrounds the use of blockchain technology. 

"Blockchain and other new technologies – artificial intelligence, for example – have to be understood as simple pieces that make digital ecosystems reliable. In this regard, these types of projects will contribute to providing more clarity to the regulatory uncertainty. It is essential to establish a system of governance that aligns the different participating industries and their objectives which should represent different sizes of organizations and sectors," Kuchkovsky said.

In April, the European Commission had started working on the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). This initiative has already gathered 27 European countries to sign the partnership deal. The objective of this partnership is to develop a trusted, secure, and resilient European Blockchain Services Infrastructure that meets the necessary standards when it came to privacy, cybersecurity, interoperability, energy efficiency, and full compliance with EU regulations. 

BBVA was formed from a merger of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and Argentaria in 1999 and is the second largest bank in Spain. Shares of BBVA closed 2.02 percent higher Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange and gained another 0.42 percent in after-hours trade. The overall NYSE Composite Index closed with a relatively modest 0.62 percent gain Wednesday.