Category Archives: European Parliament

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EU Commission “Pleased” with Blockchain Enthusiasm from European Parliament

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gathered today in Strasbourg, France for plenary meetings are currently debating the use of blockchain technology, with Digital Single Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip saying minutes ago that he was “pleased” to see MEPs on the same page as the EU Commission in its enthusiasm for blockchain potential.

Sandwiched between a session on human rights violations in Chechnya and economic support for remote regions, the debate on blockchain sought to discuss how the EU Commission would provide “legal certainty” for the use of the technology.

Earlier, MEP Dario Tamburrano from Italy urged the European Parliament members to move towards legislation to avoid “losing control” of new technologies, echoing French MEP Christelle Lechavalier’s statement that regulators should give blockchain adequate time to provide evidence and maturity for use across multiple sectors.

Both Italy and France have been making fervent moves towards cryptocurrency especially in recent months. The former last week became the 27th nation to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, which seeks to foster blockchain cooperation between member nations. France this year axed income tax on cryptocurrency and has a pro-crypto finance minister in the shape of Bruno Le Maire, who maintained that blockchain was “a revolution”.

MEPs from Eastern European nations – themselves keen to establish blockchain hubs in the region – were also vocal in the debate, with Lithuanian centre-right MEP Antanas Guoga asking fellow Parliament members to accept that blockchain is “here to stay”. He warned that laggards would have to “live with” not being able to have “much say” over the technology, pointing out that decentralized systems would be highly resistant to external attempts for control.

Romania’s Cristian-Silviu Busoi cautioned the EU against “rushing prematurely” into regulation or face stifled innovation.

Ansip closed the session, saying that blockchain should not be seen as a “panacea” but stressed that it was an opportunity that “cannot be overlooked”. The assembly is expected to vote tomorrow on 2 October on a non-binding motion which will mandate the Commission to conduct an impact study of a “wider update” of blockchain in the EU.


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New EU ICO Rules May Fall Under Crowdfunding Umbrella

The European Parliament in Brussels has taken a further step towards clarifying rules for ICOs within the nations of the European Community.

The all-party group met yesterday to examine proposals for the launching of ICOs although as yet no formal statements of intent have been made regarding the outcome of the meeting. Nicolas Brien of France Digitale did urge for haste, however, arguing that “the market wants legitimization… from every jurisdiction. In the UK it’s particularly bad, none of the banks will bank you if you have crypto”.

Two weeks ago, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) published a draft report that offers insights into new regulatory frameworks for crowdfunding. ICOs received a notable mention in the report stating, “It takes a much-needed step towards imposing standards and protections in place for what is an excellent funding stream for tech start.”

Brien went on to explain:

“Having the certainty, but also having that legitimization, I actually welcome having a European-wide proposal because it gives people the certainty to know. I think we need to be clear whether this is a utility token or a transferable security, or how the regulator regime looks at that, but I think this can be done because an ICO is another form of crowdfunding. It’s different, but it is a form of crowdfunding.”

As is so often the case at such meeting many regulators got on to discussing the need to prevent potential fraud and scams requiring a higher level of scrutiny than is currently the case. Laura Royle of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) echoed those thoughts at the meeting commenting:

“…we certainly do see a huge potential benefit in this space for firms to raise capital from a broad array of investors and without the cost of an intermediary, but there are risks associated [such as] the potential for fraud, with a lack of transparency and the volatility.”

There are current EU estimates that as many as 81% of ICOs could result in fraud. However, if new regulations result in a higher standard than is currently evident, then this may set the example for productive projects in the future within the EU. How this will apply to ICOs within the UK is still uncertain, given the country’s departure from the EU in March of 2019.


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EU Latest: Crypto ‘Unlikely’ to Threaten State Currencies

An EU body, the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, released a statement on 26 June saying that it saw cryptocurrencies as no threat to state currencies globally.

The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is a committee of the European Parliament, the most important function of this committee being in relation to the European Central Bank.

In the committee’s most recent analysis it suggested that not only were they perceived as no threat to sovereign currencies, but they were viewed as being “relatively safe, transparent, and fast”.

The report was initiated by the EU and conducted by the Center for Social and Economic Research, a non-profit research institute based in Poland. The report clearly acknowledges the useful role of cryptocurrencies internationally and suggested that they had the capacity to become “fully fledged private money in the future due to their growing global adoption”.

The key point of the analysis was cryptocurrency’s potential to disrupt global banking systems. The committee pointed out that although public demand was now significant, it was unlikely that this would undermine central banking structures, particularly in countries where national currencies were widely circulated.

The last point is significant given the current disruption to the banking system in countries such as Venezuela where rampant inflation has lead to the adoption of the Petro, while Bitcoin has become the underground currency of choice.

The report concluded that the total value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation was insignificant when juxtaposed with the value of major world currencies. The committee issued the usual warning concerning the risk of cryptocurrency being used for money laundering, tax evasion, and financing illicit activities.

To this end, the latest regulatory development from the EU is ‘Directive (EU) 2015/849’ which allows Financial Intelligence Units to access cryptocurrency wallet information should there be a suspicion of illegal activity. Such units will thereby be able to establish the ownership of crypto addresses.

Last month, an EU parliamentary think tank concluded that cryptocurrencies presented no more of a threat to terrorist financing than fiat currencies, while improved regulations, industry intelligence, and community relationship building offered the strongest policy actions to combat the threat.


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Crypto Payment Regulations on the Agenda in Portugal

Portugal’s parliament is scheduled to debate cryptocurrency payment regulations in the following weeks, with an objective of instituting a new legal framework that guarantees the safety of consumers.

As reported in the local news outlet Jornal de Negócios, the government plans to discuss applicable sanctions, as well as the distribution and supply of cryptocurrencies. Likely this will also cover the contentious issue of initial coin offerings (ICOs). The Portuguese government is looking for an outcome of new payment services to emerge that are both safe and cost-effective.

Those in government have argued that the regulation of specific aspects that are not yet  controlled will allow new types of payment services to expand, in time contributing to a legal framework that will ”accommodate the innovation to the benefit of consumers, and to even promote competition.”

Specifically, the parliament is looking to implement a set of standardized rules to access payment accounts, which could prevent unnecessary difficulties or interferences. As well as this, Portuguese political representatives hope to establish operational risk management and complaint mechanisms for service providers, ICO operators, and cryptocurrency users.

In assuring the financial security of cryptocurrency traders and businesses is paramount, the government is looking to implement ”complaint mechanisms for payment service providers and for electronic money issuers, as well as for the respective supervisory authority.”

Comparatively, Portugal has a positive attitude to cryptocurrencies; the agenda for the country now is to even expand cryptocurrency-related services in the country, promoting competition in a safe, transparent environment.

In December last year, Portugal’s Securities Market Commission disclosed that they were supervising banks and brokerages to keep an eye on what was called ”Bitcoin euphoria” across Portugal.

The European Parliament recently saw a majority agree that cryptocurrencies required closer regulatory enforcement, with members agreeing management was needed to prevent their usage in money laundering and terrorist financing.


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