The European Union has been making major strides in preparing for the future of money. This effort includes the introduction of new legislation, such as the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA), set to come into effect in 2024. The EU has also been working on the development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) known as the “digital euro.” The concept of the digital euro has gained support from many local regulators, although there has been some pushback from citizens in certain countries.
One country that has expressed skepticism about the digital euro is Spain, where 65% of citizens indicated that they were not interested in using the digital currency. In Slovakia, the parliament passed legislation to protect citizens’ right to use cash, in response to the impending arrival of the digital euro. Additionally, there has been strong opposition to the digital euro from Joana Cotar, a member of the Bundestag in Germany, who describes herself as a Bitcoin activist. Cotar has voiced concerns about the potential for increased surveillance and loss of privacy associated with the digital euro and has been an outspoken critic of the EU’s digital monetary solution.
Despite her staunch opposition to the digital euro, Cotar is a vocal advocate for Bitcoin. She has been leading the “Bitcoin in the Bundestag” initiative, which aims to inform and educate members of the German Bundestag about the potential and risks of Bitcoin. One of her goals is to establish a formal Bundestag committee that recognizes the technological differences between Bitcoin and other crypto assets and raises awareness about the importance of Bitcoin for society. Cotar also wants to explore the possibility of allowing citizens to pay taxes and fees in Bitcoin, as well as using Bitcoin mining farms to stabilize the power grid.
In her advocacy for Bitcoin, Cotar emphasizes the importance of promoting the freedom aspects of Bitcoin, including protecting privacy, ensuring security standards, and preventing excessive regulation that could stifle innovation. She also acknowledges the need to address potential risks associated with Bitcoin, such as money laundering and tax evasion, without inhibiting the freedom and innovation of the cryptocurrency.
The European Central Bank (ECB) recently announced the “preparation phase” for the digital euro project, following a two-year investigation into the potential for a EU-wide digital currency. This development has sparked further discussion and debate about the future of money in the EU. Cotar’s efforts in advocating for Bitcoin and raising awareness about the potential pitfalls of the digital euro are part of a broader conversation about the role of digital currencies in the modern financial landscape. Her initiatives in Germany could serve as a framework for other countries and could potentially contribute to the development of international standards for Bitcoin and its cross-border use. As the EU moves forward with the digital euro and other digital currency initiatives, it will have to address the concerns and considerations raised by lawmakers, regulators, and citizens like Cotar.