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EU proposes first set of Principles for crypto assets
The European Union has taken a significant step forward in its bid to regulate the crypto assets world following its own executive branch issued its extensive proposals so far for supervising the growing sector.
Tye measures suggested within the EU's digital finance plan include cryptocurrencies not currently contained in overall regulation in addition to a lot of so-called stablecoins.
The aim is to not just reduce volatility in cryptocurrency trading or to provide more regulatory certianty for investors but also to decrease market fragmentation in Europe by ensuring that after a crypto trading company is approved in one EU state, it is free to operate in other EU states.
"We must proactively embrace digital transformation, while mitigating any potential risks," said Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice-president of the European Commission. "A digital and innovative single market for finance will benefit Europeans and be key to Europe's economic recovery by delivering better financial products for consumers and opening up new financing channels for businesses."
The Regulation on Markets in Crypto Assets or MiCA bill provides defintions on what constitutes a crypto asset as well as various token sub groups. It will also lay down rules for digital asset custody and funding requirements as well as the connection between token issuers and token holders.
The bill also stipulates that providers of any crypto-based encryption providers have a physical presence within the EU.
There are also steps to deal specifically with stablecoins following issues raised by a number of finance ministers within the EU earlier this month.
If the bill is passed it would make the EU among the most regulated centres for crypto trading and electronic assets. However, there is very likely to be a lengthy legislative journey ahead. The bill must be debated by the European Parliament as well the different national governments before it could be passed into law. Meanwhile the Commission has said that it hopes to see the framework set up by 2024.
The fact that any law must be implemented at a national level might turn out to be a sticking point. The Commission has stated its preference for more regulatory harmonisation at an EU-wide level.
"Truly integrated and convergent oversight is needed to ensure a truly level playing field for all market Bitcoin players," stated Domborvskis. "This will be particularly relevant in a post-Brexit world, with multiple financial centres in the European Union."
But achieving harmonisation has proved difficult in the past and EU states have recently decreased a 2017 Commission proposal to bolster supervisory powers at an EU level in favour of preserving power at a national level.