EU Plans Digital Euro Bill, Metaverse Policy for May, Commission Says

The European Commission will publish a bill to underpin a digital euro and will also set out its strategy on virtual worlds in May, according to a document published on its website Monday.

While the European Central Bank has yet to decide whether to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the commission has indicated new laws could be needed to assert its status as legal tender and set anti-money laundering rules.

“Our legislation will be the framework for a digital euro,” Mairead McGuinness, the European Union's financial services commissioner, told lawmakers on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Tuesday. “It will be negligent if Europe did nothing now, but at some point in five or 10 years had to urgently rush through something.”

The bill is set to be published by the commission May 24. It's up to the parliament and EU governments to “look at the finer points around the use cases of a digital euro” and “the technology to be used,” she said.

Lawmakers, who would have to sign off on any of McGuinness’ proposals, appear skeptical about whether the initiative has any real value.

“From a consumer point of view, what can I do as a consumer with a digital euro that I can't do with current payment systems?” Markus Ferber, the economic spokesperson for the parliament's largest political grouping, asked McGuinness, echoing skepticism others expressed yesterday if the CBDC does not harness blockchain potential.

A separate initiative on virtual worlds is due May 3, to be led by EU competition and digital commissioner Margrethe Vestager. It is unlikely to propose new laws.

Perhaps with an eye on Meta’s incursion into the space, two of Vestager’s officials have previously expressed concerns that large companies could come to dominate the metaverse and damage competition.

Read more: Digital Euro Will Never Be Programmable, ECB’s Panetta Says