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EU pushes for tough curbs on cryptocurrencies

By AFP - Sep 12,2020 - Last updated at Sep 12,2020

The photo shows participants in the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Economics and Financial Affairs, including French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire (middle row, 2nd right) in the family photo, in Berlin, on Friday (AFP photo)

BERLIN — Finance ministers from the EU's top economies on Friday pushed for strict curbs on cryptocurrencies, including the Libra project launched by Facebook.

A joint statement by the finance ministers of Germany, France, Spain, Italy and The Netherlands insisted such projects should be carefully controlled and regulated.

"No global asset-backed crypto-asset arrangement should begin operation in the European Union until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks have been adequately identified and addressed," they said.

Facebook's announcement last year of plans to design the Libra cryptocurrency and payments system raised big red flags for global regulators who expressed criticism of privately-run currency.

Facebook has touted its initiative as a way to lower costs for consumers around the world, eliminating the high fees of cross-border transfers.

The European Central Bank "is the only one to be allowed to issue a currency", French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in Berlin, at a meeting of EU finance ministers.

"This point is something that cannot be jeopardised or weakened by any kind of project, including the so-called Libra project," he said.

If created, all such currencies should be tied to the euro or another EU currency, the ministers said, and should be registered and deposited in an EU-approved bank.

"We are waiting for the commission to issue very strong and very clear rules to avoid the misuse of cryptocurrencies for terrorist activities or for money laundering," Le Maire said.

The commission, the EU's executive arm, is set to deliver its proposals later this month.

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