Keep Crypto Regs National, Says New EU Poll

September 3, 2021
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Despite the European Commission’s plans to regulate crypto-assets through an EU-wide set of rules, a majority of EU citizens would prefer to see their own national legislation in operation, according to a new poll by Redfield And Wilton Strategies.

Despite the European Commission’s plans to regulate crypto-assets through an EU-wide set of rules, a majority of EU citizens would prefer to see their own national legislation in operation, according to a new poll by Redfield And Wilton Strategies.

Support for national governments, rather than the EU regulating cryptocurrencies, is high all across the EU — as the London-based consulting firm discovered when it polled EU citizens in 12 countries.

In backing national legislation, residents in Estonia is polled at 46 percent, Italy at 47 percent and Greece at 51 percent. These countries are among the member-states with the highest support for regulating cryptocurrencies domestically, according to the polling data.

The two largest economies in the EU, France and Germany, also polled in favour of national legislation at 37 and 40 percent respectively. Both countries have also passed their own laws.

For example, France enacted the Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation Law (loi PACTE) in 2019. This established rules for fundraising through the issuance of virtual tokens (initial coin offering, or ICO) and digital assets services providers. The country has also recently tightened know-your-customer requirements for crypto firms.

Germany, meanwhile, liberalised its crypto investment laws in June this year with the Fondsstandortgesetz (Fund Location Act), which allows some fund managers to invest up to 20 percent of their assets in cryptocurrencies.

Portugal, Spain and Poland all showed a preference for EU law in the polling, at 44 percent, 43 percent and 36 percent respectively.

Additionally, Poland ranked highest for EU consumers paying for goods and services with cryptocurrencies, according to the poll. At 15 percent, the central European country was followed closely by Germany and Spain on 14 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, Lithuania, Portugal and the Netherlands ranked lowest, scoring 8 and 7 percent respectively.

The EU is in the process of negotiating a “digital finance package” that includes the Markets In Crypto Assets Act (MiCA), its proposal for a regulation. This is designed to revolutionise the regulation of crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies in the trading bloc.

Unveiled in September 2020, MiCA proposes to set up a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies by breaking them down into three categories: utility tokens, which provide digital access to goods or services; asset-referenced tokens, either used as payment or for “value purposes,” i.e. investment; and e-money tokens, used solely for payment.

MiCA proposes to oblige the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), and, where applicable, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks to provide competent authorities with opinions about prospective issuers’ applications for various things.

A report by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has suggested that these opinions should not be binding, with the exception of those of the ECB and the member states’ central banks if they have anything to do with the secure handling of payments or the enforcement of monetary policy.

MEPs also asked for the eurozone's central bank to make decisions about the authorisation of e-money tokens.

Across the pond, earlier this week, Gary Gensler, chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, discussed stablecoins with MEPs who sat on the European Parliament’s influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. He warned them that the growing use of these coins could result in public policy being sidelined.

“The use of stablecoins on these platforms may facilitate those seeking to sidestep a host of public policy goals connected to our traditional banking and financial system,” he said, referring to money-laundering control and other issues.

Gensler went on to tell the committee that financial technology (fintech) could end up being as disruptive as the internet was in the 1990s.

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