EU Flash: February Ecofin meeting, ECON Committee draft report on sustainable finance and the Commission’s roundtable discussion on cryptocurrencies


Fin février, les ministres européens des Finances se sont réunis en Conseil des Affaires économiques et financières (Ecofin) afin de discuter de financement durable. La Commission ECON au sein du Parlement européen a également publié un projet de rapport sur la finance durable. La Commission européenne a organisé une Table ronde de discussion sur les cryptodevises avec d’éminents experts, représentants des entreprises et autorités.

Vous trouverez ci-dessous un résumé en anglais de ces sujets.

February Ecofin Meeting

The EU Finance Ministers discussed the recommendations of a high-level group of experts on sustainable finance. The EU's sustainable finance strategy will contribute to implementing the UN's 2015 climate change agreement. It is also part of the EU's plan to develop a capital markets union by the end of 2019.  The Commission will present an action plan in March 2018.

The Council adopted guidelines for the 2019 EU budget, stressing that a transparent and effective use of the budget will bolster the EU's credibility with its citizens. The guidelines call for a prudent budget, which puts the money where the needs are while leaving sufficient reserves to deal with unexpected events. The EU Finance Ministers also recommended that the European Parliament grant discharge to the Commission for implementation of the 2016 EU budget.

The Council issued a recommendation confirming the nomination of Luis de Guindos as vice-president of the European Central Bank.

ECON Draft Report on Sustainable Finance

The ECON Committee in the European Parliament published its Draft Report on sustainable finance. In this report, the ECON Committee urges the European Commission to reform the financial system in a way that accelerates the transition to decarbonise our economy.

The report discusses the role of finance in facilitating the transition to a sustainable economy and stresses the potential of a faster green transition to direct the capital market towards long-term, innovative and efficient investments and the importance of a political and regulatory framework. This would allow Europe to maintain its leading position in tackling climate change, while giving European businesses a competitive advantage.

The aim of the European Parliament would be to set minimum standards guiding investment to ensure transition towards a sustainable economy and society. Moreover, an EU sustainability taxonomy or “green taxonomy” needs to be developed. The Report calls for an EU wide multi stakeholder group to decide on metrics of the taxonomy.  Another central issue discussed was the green supporting factor.

Roundtable discussion on cryptocurrencies

The European Commission held a roundtable discussion on cryptocurrencies with key authorities, industry representatives and experts. The aim of this roundtable was to feed into the Commission’s upcoming Action Plan on FinTech, and the EU's position for a possible discussion at G20 level.

Europe represents only a small share of global cryptocurrency trading, so cooperation with partners in the G20 and with international standard-setters is necessary. The discussion resulted in the following conclusions:

  • Blockchain technology holds strong promise for financial markets. Europe must embrace this innovation to remain competitive.
  • Crypto-currencies have become subject of considerable speculation, which exposes consumers and investors to substantial risk.
  • Warnings about these risks are important and must be clear, frequent, and across all jurisdictions.
  • Although useful for innovative firms to raise funding, initial coin offerings also expose investors to substantial risks, such as the lack of transparency regarding the identity of the issuers and underlying business plans.

The Commission will continue to monitor these markets together with other stakeholders, at EU and international level, including in the G20. Based on the assessment of risks and opportunities and the suitability of the existing regulatory framework, the Commission will determine if regulatory action at EU level is required. The Commission proposes that virtual currency exchanges and wallet providers should be subject to the Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

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