The EU strongly supports a EU-wide rules for blockchain to avoid legal and regulatory fragmentation. The Commission adopted a comprehensive package of legislative proposals for the regulation of crypto-assets in order to increase investments and ensure consumer and investor protection.
This package updates certain financial market rules for crypto-assets, and creates a legal framework for regulatory sandboxes of financial supervisors in the EU for using blockchains in the trading and post-trading of securities.
A digital Euro
The European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission services are jointly reviewing at a broad range of policy, legal and technical questions relating to the possible introduction of a digital Euro. They are considering this in the context of their respective mandates and independence provided for in the Treaties.
A joint statement by the European Commission and the ECB outlined their cooperation on a digital Euro.
Proposal for a new EU law on crypto-assets
Crypto-assets qualifying as 'financial instruments' under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive have previously been subject to EU securities markets legislation.
However, these rules predated the emergence of crypto-assets and DLT. This could hamper innovation. So, the Commission proposed a pilot regime for market infrastructures that wish to try to trade and settle transactions in financial instruments in crypto-asset form. The pilot regime allows for exemptions from existing rules and allows regulators and companies to test innovative solutions utilising blockchain.
For crypto-assets that do not qualify as 'financial instruments' such as utility tokens or payment tokens, the Commission proposed a specific new framework This framework would replace all other EU and national rules currently governing the issuance, trading and storing of such crypto assets.
The Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) will support innovation while protecting consumers and the integrity of crypto-currency exchanges. This includes rules such as no insider trading or front running. The proposed Regulation covers entities issuing crypto-assets, firms providing services around these crypto-assets, firms operating digital wallets, and cryptocurrency exchanges.
Further information can be found on the Commission’s press release and accompanying press memorandum.
Pan-European blockchain regulatory sandbox
A sandbox is a facility that brings together regulators, companies, and tech experts to test innovative solutions and identify obstacles that arise in deploying them.
The European Blockchain Partnership is planning a pan-European regulatory sandbox in cooperation with the European Commission for use cases in the EBSI and outside of EBSI, including for data portability, business-to-business data spaces, smart contracts, and digital identity. This will cover sectors including health, environment, mobility, energy and more. The sandbox is expected to become operational in 2021/22.
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