The Portuguese government plans to create “Technological Free Zones” (Zonas Livres Tecnológicas) with tailored regulatory regimes that encourage innovation and experimentation.

Unveiled on April 21 as part of the country’s ambitious digital transition action plan, the country’s Council of Ministers pledged that the new zones will be adapted so as to lessen the regulatory and legal burden on the developers of new and experimental technologies.

Independent Portuguese law firm Vieira de Almeida has noted that the legal framework being adopted for the free zones goes beyond existing approaches to regulatory sandboxes, which are typically disparate and set up according to a sector or pre-defined area. 

Instead, the Council of Ministers intends to foster experimentation across industries:

“The Resolution notes the importance of approving a legal framework that promotes and streamlines experimentation activities in a cross-sector manner in order to take advantage of all the opportunities brought by new technologies – from artificial intelligence to blockchain, bio- and nanotechnology, 3D printing, virtual reality, robotics and the Internet of Things, and including Big Data and the 5G network.”

This, Vieira de Almeida claims, represents a more coherent and aligned approach to developing products and services, both private and public, with feedback from diverse regulatory agencies. 

Portugal’s action plan for the “construction of a digital society” will drive a knowledge-based economy to boost productivity growth, and includes key areas of focus such as regulation, digital privacy, cyber-security and defense, the data economy, communications and infrastructure.

The government has unveiled educational initiatives to broaden digital inclusion for citizens and says new technologies are essential for economic development and the restructuring of the state, private sector and strategic industrial sectors. 

As CryptoNewspeople has previously reported, Portugal has, for now, a less onerous taxation regime for retail traders in crypto, yet the country is yet to establish a designated regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. 

Issuing and trading cryptocurrencies thus remains unregulated and unsupervised by the country’s central bank or other financial authority.