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.

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“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 and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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