Fri. May 27th, 2022

Brussels, 14 March 2022

  • Uniform legal framework for crypto-assets in the EU
  • Consumer protection and safeguards against market manipulation and financial crime
  • Include crypto-assets mining in EU taxonomy for sustainable activities by 2025 to reduce carbon footprint

MEPs agreed on draft rules on supervision, consumer protection and environmental sustainability of crypto-assets, including cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins.

On Monday evening, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee adopted, with 31 votes to 4 and 23 abstentions, its negotiating position on new rules on crypto-assets. They aim to boost users’ confidence and support the development of digital services and alternative payment instruments.

Key provisions agreed by MEPs for those issuing and trading crypto-assets (including  asset-referenced tokens and e-money tokens) cover transparency, disclosure, authorisation and supervision of transactions. Consumers would be better informed about risks, costs and charges. In addition, the legal framework supports market integrity and financial stability by regulating public offers of crypto-assets. Finally, the agreed text includes measures against market manipulation and to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and other criminal activities.

Environmental threats

To reduce the high carbon footprint of crypto-currencies, particularly of the mechanisms used to validate transactions, MEPs ask the Commission to present MEPs with a legislative proposal to include in the EU taxonomy (a classification system) for sustainable activities any crypto-asset mining activities that contribute substantially to climate change, by 1 January 2025.

MEPs stress that other industries (e.g. the video games and entertainment industry, data centres) also consume energy resources that are not climate-friendly. They call for the Commission to work on legislation addressing these issues across different sectors.

Supervision

MEPs want the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to supervise the issuance of asset-referenced tokens, whereas the European Banking Authority (EBA) will be in charge of supervising electronic money tokens.

Quote

Stefan Berger (EPP, DE), the lead MEP, said: “By adopting the MiCA report, the European Parliament has paved the way for an innovation-friendly crypto-regulation that can set standards worldwide. The regulation being created is pioneering in terms of innovation, consumer protection, legal certainty and the establishment of reliable supervisory structures in the field of crypto-assets. Many countries around the world will now take a close look at MiCA.”

Next steps

A decision to enter into negotiations with EU governments on the final shape of the bill was adopted with 33 votes to 25.

Background

Crypto-assets, including cryptocurrencies, are neither issued nor guaranteed by a central bank or a public authority. They are currently out of the scope of EU legislation. This creates risks for consumer protection and financial stability, and could lead to market manipulation and financial crime. The draft legislation differentiates between crypto assets in general, asset referenced tokens (ARTs), also called “stable coins”, and e-money tokens primarily used for payments.
Mechanisms used to validate transactions in crypto-assets have a substantial environmental impact, particularly for proof-of-work mechanisms, requiring a lot of energy and resulting in a high carbon footprint and generating electronic waste. According to most estimates, the energy consumption of Bitcoin equals that of entire small countries.

Further information

 


EU-Abgeordneter Stefan Berger (EVP/CDU) zu Annahme von MiCA

Zur Annahme des Berichtes zur Regulierung von Kryptowerten (“Markets in Crypto-Assets” (MiCA)) im Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Währung (ECON) erklärt Stefan Berger (CDU), Berichterstatter des Europäischen Parlaments:

„Heute ist ein guter Tag für den europäischen Kryptosektor. Mit der Annahme des MiCA-Berichts hat das Europaparlament den Weg für eine innovationsfreundliche Krypto-Regulierung geebnet, die weltweit Maßstäbe setzen kann. Regierungen wie die der USA haben bereits Signale hin zu einer krypto-freundlichen Regulierung gesetzt. Europa sollte allein schon aus Wettbewerbsgründen neue Technologien wie Krypto-Assets nicht einschränken. Mit MiCA entsteht eine Krypto-Regulierung, die Vorreiter bei Innovationsfähigkeit, Verbraucherschutz, Rechtssicherheit und der Schaffung verlässlicher Aufsichtsstrukturen im Bereich der Krypto-Assets ist. Viele Länder weltweilt werden sich MiCA jetzt genau ansehen.

Ich bin froh, dass mein Vorschlag, Krypto-Assets wie alle anderen Finanzprodukte zukünftig in die Taxonomie der EU-Kommission einzubeziehen, eine Mehrheit gefunden hat. Dies ist ein wichtiger Schritt zu einem nachhaltigen Finanzsektor. Mit einer Aufnahme in die Taxonomie würden dringende Anreize zur Nachhaltigkeit gesetzt und das Vertrauen der Verbraucher gestärkt.“

Hintergrund:

Der Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Währung (ECON) hat heute den “Berger-Bericht” zu Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) zur Regulierung von Kryptowerten angenommen.

Vor der Abstimmung hatten die Fraktionen von S&D, Grünen und Linken einen alternativen Änderungsantrag vorgelegt, der für Diskussionen im Krypto-Sektor gesorgt hatte. Dieser Antrag beinhaltete ein Auslaufen energieintensiver Konsensmechanismen. In der Krypto-Asset-Szene wurde befürchtet, dass dies zu einem De-Facto-Verbot von Proof-of-Work, und damit von Kryptoassets in ihrer heutigen Form führen könnte.

Der Proof-of-Work ist eine Form der sogenannten Konsens-Mechanismen, die für die Validierung und Generierung neuer Blöcke einer Blockchain genutzt werden.

Stattdessen fand der Antrag von Stefan Berger eine Mehrheit, Kryptoassets zukünftig in die Taxonomie aufzunehmen.  Mit dem Regelwerk der Taxonomie legt die EU-Kommission Standards für ein nachhaltiges Wirtschaften fest. Sie sorgt dafür, dass öffentliche und private Finanzströme in nachhaltige Investitionen gelenkt werden. Hierzu dient ein Klassifikationssystem zur Definition ökologisch nachhaltiger Wirtschaftsaktivitäten.

Bevor MiCA in Kraft treten kann, stehen noch Trilog-Verhandlungen zwischen den Vertretern des Europaparlaments, der EU-Mitgliedstaaten und der EU-Kommission an.

Source – EVP/CDU (via e-Mail)

 


Abstimmung über Regeln für Crypto Assets – Markus Ferber fordert kluge Regulierung statt plumper Verbote

Brüssel, 14. März 2022

„Die Märkte für virtuelle Währungen waren zu lange wie der Wilde Westen – das hat mit MiCA nun ein Ende. Mit der Verordnung über Märkte für Crypto Assets gibt es erstmals Mindeststandards für Marktintegrität und Verbraucherschutz. Wir können Crypto Assets nicht Betrügern und Schwindlern überlassen, sondern sollen diese Innovation in die richtigen Bahnen lenken“, so der CSU-Europaabgeordnete und wirtschaftspolitische Sprecher der EVP-Fraktion, Markus Ferber, anlässlich der heutigen Abstimmung im Wirtschafs- und Währungsausschuss des Europäischen Parlaments über einen Regulierungsrahmen für Crypto Assets (Markets in Crypto Assets, „MiCA“).

Kluge Regulierung statt Verbote

„Mit der MiCA-Verordnung wird es für Crypto Assets erstmals ähnliche Standards geben wie für andere Finanzprodukte. Das stärkt Europa als Cryptostandort“, erklärt Ferber. Wenig Verständnis hat Ferber für Vorschläge von Sozialdemokraten und Grünen den für viele Crypto-Anwendungen wichtigen „proof of work“-Mechanismus komplett zu verbieten: „Damit würde sich Europa ein Eigentor schießen. Wer neue Technologien immer gleich verbieten will, muss sich nicht wundern, dass Europa bei Zukunftstechnologien keine Rolle spielt.“

Schwellenwerte deutlich erhöht:

Als großen Erfolg wertet Ferber, dass es gelungen ist, die Schwellenwerte für so genannte signifikante Crypto Assets, die unter einem besonders strengen Aufsichtsregime stehen, deutlich zu erhöhen: „Wenn es nach der Kommission gegangen wäre, wäre so gut wie jedes Crypto Asset als systemrelevant eingestuft worden. Ich bin froh, dass es gelungen ist, hier etwas vernünftigere Schwellenwerte festzulegen“, so Ferber, der sich selbst für eine deutliche Erhöhung der Schwellenwerte stark gemacht hat.

Crypto Assets dürfen kein Schlupfloch für Russland-Sanktionen sein:

Für Ferber kann ein effektives Regelwerk für Crypto Assets auch dazu beitragen, dass die Sanktionen gegen Russland effektiver umgesetzt werden können: „Wenn wir wollen, dass die Sanktionen gegen Russland tatsächlich ihre volle Wirkung entfalten, dürfen Crypto Assets keine Schlupflöcher sein. Ein klarer Rechtsrahmen wie MiCA muss die Intermediäre in die Pflicht nehmen.“

Quelle – EVP/CSU – via e-Mail

 


S&D Group: With far-right support, conservatives block progressives’ push to cut colossal carbon footprint of crypto-currencies

Today, the economic and monetary affairs committee of the European Parliament voted on new rules for regulating crypto-assets (MiCA – markets in crypto-assets). The Socialists and Democrats have been pushing for a regulatory response that protects consumers and combats money laundering, but also ensures crypto-assets are put on a more sustainable path. Bitcoin mining alone uses up more energy than countries the size of Austria or Portugal. The S&D and Green proposal to give the Commission the mandate to adopt a delegated act defining minimum environmental sustainability standards for the consensus mechanisms used for validating crypto-asset transactions was voted down by the conservatives and liberals with the support of the far-right ID group. The Socialists and Democrats abstained in the final vote.

Eero Heinäluoma, MEP and S&D negotiator for the report, said:

“The Socialists and Democrats abstained on the Berger report on regulating crypto-assets. These new rules will set the framework for digital finance for many years to come. Our group fully supports digital innovation in the financial sector and we welcome the progress made on key points during the negotiations. Indeed, we believe it’s important that a regulatory framework protects ordinary citizens, that it sets strict rules to prevent money laundering and that it gives a veto power to the ECB to block authorisations if financial stability is at risk.

“At the same time, our group is really disappointed about the lack of any ambition in the field of sustainability. The principles set in this respect by the report are very weak and completely negate the reality. Indeed, crypto-currencies consume as much energy as all electric cars on our earth combined. The carbon footprint of a single bitcoin transaction equals a transatlantic return flight London to New York. This is 1.5 million times the energy used up by a VISA transaction. If we don’t curtail this massive carbon footprint by putting crypto-currencies on a more sustainable path, our efforts to combat the climate crisis and boost our energy independence risk being in vain.

“I regret that the Commission did not address this massive carbon footprint in its original proposal. During the negotiations, we managed to convince the conservative rapporteur of the need for minimum environmental standards and he supported a broad and ambitious agreement in February. Unfortunately, the conservative rapporteur then seems to have caved in to pressure from lobbyists and industry, making a complete U-turn in 48 hours and throwing the deal in the bin, which he himself had agreed upon and had described as very good. The alternative text he pushed through today – with the support of the far right – is complete window-dressing, leaving the catastrophic consequences of the growing energy appetite of this growing industry unanswered.

“Supporting this completely unsustainable model is really a bad political message from the conservatives in times when energy prices for ordinary citizens and businesses are going through the roof and when the EU is trying at the highest level to reduce our dependency on Russian gas in the coming months. Our group is convinced we must address the massive carbon footprint of this industry. This is not about outlawing a new technology, as some claim, it is about ensuring that this industry is future-proofed by setting out minimum sustainability standards. This is why the S&D Group abstained on the final text.”

Jonás Fernández, S&D spokesperson on economic and monetary affairs, said:

“We do need new rules for crypto-currencies to better protect consumers, set minimum environmental standards and stamp out money laundering. Today more than ever, Europe cannot afford to waste any unit of energy or help rich oligarchs hide their money. We were deeply disappointed by the conservatives’ failure to rise to the occasion and provide this industry with a future-proof framework.”

The European Commission proposed MiCA in 2020 to introduce better consumer protection after Facebook announced plans to introduce its own virtual currency, called Diem.

Source – S&D Group (via e-mail)

 


Renew Europe supports an ambitious and future-proof regulation for Crypto-assets in Europe

MARCH 14, 2022

The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament welcomes the adoption by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) of a report introducing for the first time a legal framework for crypto assets in Europe. Our political group has supported a text with a harmonised approach that is proportional, flexible (to allow innovation) and future-proof, while also improving consumer protection and addressing sustainability concerns. In addition, our MEPs have worked hard to make this regulation compatible with anti-money laundering regulations.

Renew Europe has been a leading voice in the European debate on crypto since it held the rapporteurship for the Digital Finance Report, adopted by the European Parliament in 2020, and called for a strong regulatory framework for crypto-assets, which aims to increase the competitiveness of the EU’s financial sector while also protecting financial stability, as well as ensuring the EU is prepared for structural transformations in such a volatile and changing environment.

This vote on Markets in Crypto assets (MiCA) is part of a broader set of rules that will provide the Union with an innovative regulation, as well as a strong and legal framework for fighting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) risk and preventing cyber-attacks against entities and other incidents.

Ondřej Kovařík (ANO, Czechia), Renew Europe’s shadow rapporteur on this file, said:

“As the significance of crypto assets grows, it is important that the EU sets a clear regulatory framework in this sector. Our ambition is to protect investors and consumers, strengthen regime against illicit use of these assets, while at the same time allowing for innovation. By setting standards for issuing and trading crypto assets, the EU can create a stable and predictable business environment, enhance provision of cross border services, and also take the global leadership on these issues”.

Source – Renew Europe (via e-mail)