As we anticipated yesterday, the European Parliament has voted by an overwhelming majority to call on the European Commission to establish a Virtual Currency Taskforce.

If the Taskforce is established, and it’s used in the way that Parliament envisages, it will develop the knowledge, skills, experience and tools required for the European Institutions to able to:

  • Properly understand and monitor the development and use of virtual, digital and crypto-currencies, and distributed ledger technology; and
  • Intervene in an appropriate way, if and when it makes sense to do so, (for example) to try to (a) stop these currencies being used for money-laundering and terrorist financing purposes; and (b) enhance consumer protection when these currencies are used to buy and sell goods and services, without – in either case – unnecessarily stifling innovation.

There is no current reason to think the European institutions are planning a more ambitious legislative program than the one they’ve already described (*). But that’s bound to change in time.

The Parliament has issued two press releases about today’s developments (here and here).

Our previous blog posts about this story (and related issues) are here.

(* We are expecting the Commission to publish proposals before the end of June 2016, which (if made and brought into force) will lead to the amendment and early implementation of the 4th Anti-money Laundering Directive. It seems almost inevitable that these changes will include extending the scope of that Directive so that it applies to virtual, digital and crypto-currency to fiat-currency exchanges. The Commission is also considering whether (for example) the E-Money Directive and/or PSD2 should be amended as well.)