Digital Euro to Offer More Choice, Not a ‘Big Brother’ Project, Senior EU Official Says

A digital euro will offer choice in making payments and is not a “Big Brother” project that seeks to control people, the European Union‘s financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness said on Wednesday.

The European Central Bank has yet to decide if it will go ahead with introducing a digital euro, but McGuinness is due soon to publish a draft EU law which would give it a legal underpinning, if a decision to move ahead is taken.

The ECB has said it does not want to keep any personal data on its users, officials at the central bank have said.

But critics say a digital version of the euro could be used to pry on people’s activities, and make it harder to use cash for making payments and purchases.

“This is not a Big Brother project,” McGuinness told the European Parliament.

“I respect those that have that view, but frankly I would ask them to calm it down a little. We should not address this issue to citizens in this chamber as any sense of a project of control. It’s a project of choice,” McGuinness said.

If the EU decides to grant formal ‘legal tender’ status to a digital euro, the bloc would need to do likewise for the cash version of the single currency, McGuinness said.

The European Commission will therefore propose during the current quarter a draft law to ensure that the cash form of the euro is legal tender, in line with a ruling from the European Court of Justice in 2021, McGuinness said.

The court said legal tender means mandatory acceptance of the euro at full face value, along with power to discharge from payment obligations or release from debt.

The Bank of England and Britain’s finance ministry are studying a digital version of the pound, and the BoE has said it would have the same legal status as cash.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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