The European Parliament has released a new report, focusing on digital currencies like bitcoin for the first time, in a bid to tackle anti-money laundering (AML) issues, which is a priority that the European Commission hopes to achieve by the end of 2017.
Before his election as President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker set out policy priorities, which would serve as his Commission’s guidelines for the following five years. With the stated aim of focusing on the ‘big things’, Juncker outlined ten key areas in which he wanted ‘the EU to make a difference and deliver concrete results for citizens.’
Entitled The Juncker Commission’s Ten Priorities: State-of-Play at the Start of 2017 [PDF], the ten policy priorities are:
- A new boost for jobs, growth and investment
- A connected digital single market
- A resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy
- A deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base
- A deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
- A reasonable and balanced free trade agreement with the United States
- An area of justice and fundamental rights based on mutual trust
- Towards a new policy on migration
- Europe as a stronger global actor, and
- A union of democratic change.
When Juncker took office on November 1, 2014, all ten priorities were adopted by the Commission during the first year. After more than two full years since taking office, the European Commission is approaching the midway point of its mandate. In this latest report, however, it mentions, for the first time digital currencies, calling them virtual currencies.
Looking at the Role of Digital Currencies
In the previous publication, State of Play in Mid-2016, the report doesn’t make any mention of digital or virtual currencies.
In this latest report, though, it mentions the currency under priority seven under the area of fighting terrorism.
In July, 2016, the European Commission proposed stricter rules for the use of digital currencies targeting amendments to the 2015 Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, bringing an end to the anonymity associated with digital currency transactions.
In the report, it states:
The issues addressed include safeguards for financial flows from high-risk third countries, EU financial intelligence units’ powers, centralized national bank and payment account registers, and risks linked to virtual currencies and anonymous pre-paid cards.
The amendments seek to impose stricter rules on virtual currencies, including bitcoin, so that terrorism financing and anonymous payments are reduced.
At the end of the report, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Council President Robert Fico, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared that 'better protecting the security of our citizens' will be one of the top ten points receiving priority treatment to ensure substantial progress by the end of 2017.
One of the ways this can be achieved is 'improved instruments to criminalize terrorism and fight against money laundering and terrorist financing,' which is where digital currencies fall under.
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