As per a recent AP News release, the European Union is taking decisive steps to regulate the burgeoning crypto sector. The EU’s comprehensive package of cryptocurrency regulations, known as Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA), received the green light from member states. This progressive move underscores the EU’s ambition to become a global leader in the crypto regulation space.
The European Council, representing the member states, gave its final approval to MiCA, marking the last stage of the EU’s legislative process. The European Parliament had already supported the rules in April, with the regulations expected to roll out gradually from July 2024.
The heightened regulatory attention from Europe comes on the heels of numerous high-profile crypto debacles, including the fallout of trading firm FTX and the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin.
MiCA aims to enhance transparency and combat money laundering within the crypto landscape. It extends its reach to stablecoins, which are typically less volatile as they’re pegged to fiat currencies or commodities like gold. Additionally, services related to other digital tokens and Bitcoin, such as trading platforms and digital wallets, fall under the scope of these regulations, although Bitcoin itself remains exempt.
Swedish Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson, who currently presides over the European Council, stressed the importance of these regulations. She pointed out the urgent need for rules that safeguard European investors and thwart the misuse of the crypto industry for illicit activities, such as money laundering or financing terrorism.
MiCA, which has been under development since 2020, mandates that crypto companies must secure approval to operate within the EU. Companies will also be held accountable if they lose investors’ assets. As a part of the enforcement strategy, authorities plan to publish a list of “noncompliant” firms.
The regulations also include provisions to thwart market manipulation and insider trading. Companies involved in issuing or trading crypto assets will be required to disclose information about the risks, costs, and charges that consumers may encounter.
In a nod to environmental concerns, significant crypto entities will need to disclose their energy consumption. The crypto sector, particularly Bitcoin mining, has been under scrutiny due to its substantial carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, the United States appears to be lagging, with little progress made in bolstering oversight of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. The United Kingdom is still deliberating on its proposed crypto regulations announced last year.
Interestingly, some EU member states, such as Germany, have already put basic crypto regulations in place. Nonetheless, the approval of MiCA represents a significant step towards establishing a harmonized, comprehensive framework for crypto regulation across the entire European Union.
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