Stefan Berger, previously architect of the European Union's landmark crypto law MiCA, will now take the reins on digital euro plans.
The EU's central bank digital currency has proved controversial, and draft laws include privacy controls.
German lawmaker Stefan Berger will take the lead in new legislation to underpin a digital euro, the member of the European Parliament (MEP) said Wednesday.
The center-right Berger already shepherded the EU’s landmark Markets in Crypto Assets regulation through the Parliament, and will now take a similar role on the central bank digital currency (CBDC) on which many of his colleagues have proved skeptical.
“Having your own digital currency makes the EU more independent of non-EU countries and is part of the digital age,” Berger said on X (previously Twitter). “However, the project will only succeed if you can trust the digital euro just as much as you can trust cash.”
🗣️ Ab jetzt offizieller Berichterstatter für den digitalen Euro. Eine eigene digitale Währung macht 🇪🇺 unabhängiger von Drittstaaten und gehört ins digitale Zeitalter. Das Projekt wird jedoch nur gelingen, wenn man dem digitalen Euro ebenso Vertrauen kann wie dem Bargeld. 💶
— Stefan Berger (@DrStefanBerger) August 30, 2023
The European Central Bank has not yet taken a formal decision whether to issue the CBDC, but has invested significant resources in technical planning for it.
The European Parliament, alongside EU national governments who meet in a body called the Council, will have to agree on laws to underpin the currency in areas such as data protection, and ECB officials have also indicated that their decision will be swayed by the political mood in the Parliament.
Berger has usually been seen as pro-crypto, opposing a plan to limit energy use by proof-of-work technology that some saw as a ban on bitcoin. As rapporteur, Berger will propose amendments to the draft law that other lawmakers can themselves amend and vote on. In a later phase, he will lead negotiations with the Council to thrash out a unified version of the text.
Despite Berger’s relatively bullish tone, many members of the European Parliament have proved skeptical over the benefits of a digital euro – including Markus Ferber, who is the economic spokesperson for Berger’s own political group.
In emailed comments made to CoinDesk in July, Michiel Hoogeveen, a Dutch MEP who will lead negotiations for the European Conservatives and Reformists political grouping, said he opposed the plans.
The digital euro “is a solution looking for a problem and potentially only causes problems … it will only cause confusion amongst consumers and could undermine confidence in financial systems,” Hoogeveen said, although he acknowledged his party might not have enough votes to reject the plans outright. “We'll at least try to adjust it and I will try my utmost to address the concerns of citizens.”
Commission officials have said the CBDC is needed to stimulate innovation amid geopolitical tensions, and have proposed that it should be usable offline in a way similar to cash.