France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Pierre Moscovici, issued a call on 4th March for European regulators to collaborate on digital currency regulation as part of an effort to ease the concerns of financial institutions and policymakers.
In statements to the press, Moscovici has indicated he intends to request that EU member states discuss the matter at the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), the organisation that sets the EU budget and monitors the financial markets in member states.
“This is an imperative topic to be treated not only at national level but also at European level.”
Moscovici also revealed that his own government agency has been studying the issue for a year through the efforts of an inter-ministerial working group.
The working group is set to disclose its findings in April 2014 in a report that will add to France’s contributions to ECOFIN’s broader research efforts.
Regulation in France
France has been one of the more active EU nations on matters relating to digital currencies so far in 2014, issuing guidance that bitcoin exchanges need to register before operating domestically on 29th January, and holding Senate hearings on the topic on 15th January.
The 29th January ruling, however, did not regulate all bitcoin activities in France. Delphine Amarzit, a representative of the French Treasury has suggested that digital currency transactions that don’t involve fiat money may also need to be examined due to this limitation.
The Bank of France previously ruled that bitcoin is “neither legal tender nor a means of payment”, a ruling that is contributing to uncertainty on how regulation in France can go further in regulating the currency. The only “legal” currency in France is the euro.
The news that the EU may soon issue more guidance is particularly significant given the number of nations that have expressed that they are looking to it for leadership.
For example, the Central Bank of Lithuania told CoinDesk in February it would look to the EU for regulatory guidance, while Greece and Hungary have used past statements by the European Banking Authority to inform its citizens about the risks associated with digital currencies.
As such, any determinations made by ECOFIN as part of the research are likely to have a far-reaching impact on the global community as it seeks to better understand how to put controls on the digital currency.