The European Union is set to make history next year as the first major jurisdiction in the world to implement comprehensive and customized rules for the crypto sector. The law, approved by the European Parliament in April, makes it possible for crypto firms to operate across the EU's 27 member states if they manage to get authorized in one.
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A key figure behind the making of the landmark law was Stefan Berger, the center-right German lawmaker who negotiated the framework for the European Parliament.
As rapporteur for the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation (meaning he reported on the issue for the parliamentary committee that worked on legislative proposals), Berger was responsible for proposing amendments and running discussions with the Council that gathers member nations' heads of state.
As he steered MiCA through the EU's complex legislative process, he staved off efforts by lawmaker groups to limit the use of energy-intensive proof-of-work protocol that was broadly viewed by the crypto industry as a ban on Bitcoin. After FTX came crashing down in November 2022, Berger blamed it on the arrogance of its founder Sam Bankman-Fried instead of blockchain technology.
While skeptics questioned the strength of MiCA against bad actors, he pushed for the quick finalization of the legislation so that Europe will "have rules which rule this type of situation out from the word go."
The law, which offers crypto companies harmonious (or "passport-able") rulemaking across a bloc of close to 450 million people, is seen as a template for jurisdictions around the world to follow. Many in the U.S. crypto community compare MiCA's comprehensive legislation (for example, on stablecoins and exchanges) to the U.S.'s lack of lawmaking on digital assets.
Digital euro next
Now that MiCA's future is set, Berger is tasked with shepherding through Parliament the EU's grand plans for a digital euro, which might be an even bigger challenge than MiCA. EU lawmakers largely agreed that the crypto sector needed rules but they aren't exactly jumping at the idea of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
A digital euro would require a lot of technical work potentially involving blockchain and have major privacy implications few lawmakers are on board with. Others welcome it as a necessary alternative to private crypto payments. With Berger at the helm, 2024 is shaping up to be another interesting year for crypto policy in Europe.
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