EU Parliament Approves Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Task Force

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The European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union, has approved a proposal for a task force dedicated to digital currencies and Blockchain technology.

The proposal, set out in a resolution drafted by Jakob von Weizsäcker (S&D, DE) suggests that the task force, which would be overseen by the Commission, should build expertise in the underlying technology of virtual currencies. It would also be tasked with recommending any necessary legislation, but the text warns against taking a heavy-handed approach to this new technology which, it says, can offer significant opportunities for the consumer and economic development.

“To avoid stifling innovation, we favour precautionary monitoring rather than pre-emptive regulation. But IT innovations can spread very rapidly and become systemic. That’s why we call on the Commission to establish a taskforce to actively monitor how the technology evolves and to make timely proposals for specific regulation if, and when, the need arises”, said Mr von Weizsäcker.

The applications of distributed ledger technology, the technology underlying Bitcoin, are not yet taking place on a systemic scale and are still evolving rapidly. At this stage, we shouldn’t stifle innovation with pre-emptive regulation. But given the very rapid evolution in this field, we cannot afford to sit back and wait. Instead, we should establish a task force at the EU level to engage in active and close precautionary monitoring of how applications are evolving so that we are in a position to act swiftly and forcefully if need be before applications are becoming systemic. Also, existing legislation already needs to applied, for example in the area of anti-money laundering.

The Commission is currently considering proposals to bring virtual currency exchange platforms within the scope of the existing EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which is due for an update. These proposals include a measure which would require the platforms to undertake due diligence when customers exchange virtual currencies for real ones. This would end the anonymity associated with such exchanges. Regulators worry that the current system is helping money laundering and terrorist organisations.

Parliament’s proposal, which was passed by 542 votes to 51, with 11 abstentions, will now be sent to the European Commission for consideration.

About Richard Kastelein

Founder, Publisher and Editor in Chief of industry leading online publication, Blockchain News and co-founder and director at Blockchain Partners in London/Amsterdam/NYC. Kastelein is also an advisor with a number Blockchain startups doing ICOs including Humaniq.co where hs is interim CMO, DECENT.ch, Inchain, Chronobank, eGaas and others. He is regarded as one of the top journalists by the Blockchain and fintech communities – as is evident by his entry in the Top 150 Fintech journalists online and in the top 10 of the Blockchain Top 100 List.

As a prominent keynote presenter, he has spoken on Blockchain at events in Gdansk, Amsterdam, Minsk, Dubai, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Bucharest, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Manchester, Brussels, Barcelona etc, where he helped spread the cause for Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency and, consequently, has built a notable network in the scene.

He’s also a director of a Dutch foundation called The Hackitarians and has run innovation events in London, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam and other cities around the world on topics such Blockchain, Health, Energy, Internet of Things, AI etc.

In 2013, the European Commission appointed him as an expert for overseeing financing for emerging startups as a part of the European Commission’s 90 billion euro Horizon 2020 project, created in Brussels to promote innovation as a driving force of job creation and business ventures across Europe. He has also worked as an external expert for Innovate UK since 2012, judging startups for the UK government.

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