Digital euro, Brussels assist to the ECB: "Tool to strengthen the financial system"
Economics Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni on the hypothesis of a community digital currency: "An important element for innovative finance and for making payment systems more efficient and resilient". But he warns: "Ensure privacy and security"
16 Apr 2021
Federica Meta Journalist
The hypothesis of creating a digital euro is convincing. The finance ministers of the euro area are looking with interest at the current project while the European Commission goes even further by supporting the preparatory work carried out by the European Central Bank, with which it intends to cooperate. The scenario emerges from the statements that emerged at the Eurogroup.
"The Commission supports the exploration of a digital euro project, as a potentially important element of a strong and innovative digital finance sector and more efficient and resilient payment systems - said the Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni - A digital euro could also support broader policy objectives: the digitization of our economy; open strategic autonomy; and strengthen the international role of the euro. It could complement cash and the already rich offer of existing private retail payment solutions ”.
“The consultation of the ECB on this topic - he continued - has helped to clarify what matters for citizens and businesses, starting with privacy and security. It has shown that a digital euro involves both opportunities and risks, which need to be carefully considered as we move forward. That is why the Commission is engaged in very close cooperation with the ECB at a technical level on this project. We must present a roadmap to Eurosummit. The Council of the ECB has not yet formally decided to carry out the project "," but we know there are many legal issues especially on the European framework of responsibilities and on this front there will be a technical collaboration between the commission and the ECB ".
"We need to understand some aspects better - he pointed out - just to cite a few examples: - how the digital euro could induce further gains in terms of payment efficiency and innovations in the EU and how it would affect our payment system; - how it could improve financial inclusion; - how the digital euro should be distributed; - how it could support the digitization of the economy more widely and the construction of a digital single market; 5- and how to ensure compliance with the highest data protection and anti-money laundering standards ".
Index of topics
• The position of the Eurogroup
• The survey on the digital euro
The position of the Eurogroup
The finance ministers of the euro area "look with interest" at the idea of creating a digital euro, while the European Commission goes even further by "supporting" the preparatory work conducted by the European Central Bank, with which it intends to "cooperate". This project "has the potential to affect our way of life in the years to come," said the president of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, in the press conference at the end of the informal summit, which due to Covid took place again in virtual mode. On the digital euro, ministers had "positive discussions" and the ECB presented the results of the public consultation conducted in the past months, and an update of its preparatory work by the commission. Much "will depend on how we proceed - said Donohoe - The consultation has shown that privacy and security are at the top of our citizens' priorities". Beyond the technical aspects, this is a project that also has "political relevance" and on this "I expect the ministers to have an important role", he claimed.
The survey on the digital euro
The ECB is considering creating an electronic form of money to integrate banknotes and coins in an attempt to stem competition from cryptocurrencies, starting with Bitcoin, Ether and Diem, the Facebook-initiated project formerly known as Libra. According to what has been said several times by both President Christine Lagarde and Fabio Panetta, a member of the board, the digital euro could see light within years. In view of the implementation of the project, the ECB has sounded the interest of European citizens: according to what emerged, the digital currency proposed by the European Central Bank is expected to be private, safe and cheap.
With a percentage of 47% of the answers from Germany (47%), the Germans turned out to be by far the most interested in the online survey on the digital euro: behind them Italy (15% of the answers) and France (11 %). The results of the public consultation - they explain in Frankfurt - generally confirmed the initial indications: “What the public and professionals want most from a digital currency is privacy (43%), followed by security (18%), the ability to make payments throughout the Euro area (11%), no additional costs (9%) and the possibility of offline use (8%) ".
The large majority of those interviewed were private citizens (94%). The remaining participants were professionals, banks, payment service providers, merchants and technology companies.
Privacy is the most important feature of a digital Euro for both individuals and professionals, especially merchants and other companies, it should be emphasized that less than a tenth supports the need for complete anonymity. There is a strong demand for additional services in addition to basic digital payments, while about a quarter of respondents believe that such a solution should make cross-border payments faster and cheaper, and there was no shortage of participants who expressed a request for use beyond outside the Eurozone, albeit with precise limits.
The results of the ECB consultation also showed that half of the respondents are in favor of introducing a limit on the number of digital euros that each citizen can own, or a gradual salary in which balances above a certain threshold are penalized. . Two thirds of respondents said that electronic cash should be offered by private sector intermediaries and integrated into the existing payment system, while a quarter also suggested that it should be offered as a "smart card" or mobile app, so that it can be used. in offline purchases.