EU Plans Digital Euro Bill, Metaverse Policy for May, Commission Says

The bill is set to underpin a putative new central bank digital currency, financial-services commissioner Mairead McGuinness said

AccessTimeIconJan 24, 2023 at 12:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 24, 2023 at 4:14 p.m. UTC

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, will publish a bill to underpin a digital euro and set out its strategy on virtual worlds in May, according to a document published on its website Monday.

Even though the European Central Bank has yet to decide whether to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the commission has indicated new laws could be needed to assert a digital euro's status as legal tender and set anti-money-laundering rules.

“Our legislation will be the framework for a digital euro,” Mairead McGuinness, the EU's financial-services commissioner, told lawmakers on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Tuesday. “It will be negligent if Europe did nothing now, but at some point in five or 10 years had to urgently rush through something.”

The bill is set to be published by the commission May 24. It's up to the European Parliament and governments of countries in the EU to “look at the finer points around the use cases of a digital euro” and “the technology to be used,” she said.

Lawmakers who would have to sign off on any of McGuinness’ proposals appear to be skeptical about whether the initiative has any real value.

“From a consumer point of view, what can I do as a consumer with a digital euro that I can't do with current payment systems?” Markus Ferber, the economic spokesman for the Parliament's largest political grouping, asked McGuinness, echoing skepticism others expressed Monday if the CBDC doesn't harness blockchain potential.

A separate initiative on virtual worlds is due May 3, to be led by EU competition and digital commissioner Margrethe Vestager. It is unlikely to propose new laws.

Perhaps with an eye on Meta Platforms' (META) incursion into the sector, two of Vestager’s officials have previously expressed concerns that large companies could come to dominate the metaverse and damage competition.

“The metaverse is one of the pressing challenges ahead of us,” a commission spokesperson told CoinDesk in an emailed statement. “This new virtual environment must embed European values from the outset.”

UPDATE (Jan 24, 14:10UTC): Adds commission comment on metaverse in last paragraph.


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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.