On 7 September 2022, the European Economic and Social Committee hosted a public hearing entitled "A Digital Euro: Challenges and Opportunities". The hearing brought together experts from around Europe to discuss the institutional considerations of introducing a digital euro, as well as its function in an inclusive, digital and sustainable economy. The Digital Euro Association (DEA) was invited to participate and was represented by DEA Chairman Dr. Jonas Gross.
The hearing began with a panel discussion between Evelien Witlox (Digital Euro Programme Manager, European Central Bank) and Jan Ceyssens (Head of Digital Finance at the European Commission) who discussed the institutional perspectives of the introduction of a digital euro. Evelien Witlox noted three generic use cases that are currently considered in the digital euro project:
Consumer-to-business payments, and
payments to or by governments.
Evelien Witlox noted that initially, a retail digital euro would not initially be permitted for use in settling invoices, issuing paychecks, or in decentralized finance. Emphasis will instead be placed on payments initiated by individuals. Jan Ceyssens from the European Commission mentioned that the European Commission conducted a consultation on the digital euro that showed that privacy should be at the core of the debate on the digital euro and that the concerns of all sectors and the public at large be taken into account. He further noted that the digital euro should be designed to meet the new needs of users which may include decentralised finance (Defi) and web3. “A digital euro needs to meet new payment needs […] we need to also be open and adjust and cater for those [Web3] users”.
The second panel discussion “The role of a digital euro in an inclusive, digital and sustainable economy” was held between Alexandra Maniati, Alin Iacob, Karel Lannoo, Jean-Pierre Landau, and Dr. Jonas Gross. All experts provided their perspective on which features a digital euro should possess and which challenges need to be overcome. Jonas mentioned that a digital euro needs to satisfy the needs of users definitively. A few early CBDC projects failed to achieve widespread adoption because users did not see the need to use CBDCs. Lessons from previous CBDC projects should be heeded when designing the digital euro. Furthermore, Jonas stressed the need for strong privacy guarantees and, in particular, showed support for a digital euro that has very similar privacy features to cash.
This public hearing was an incredible opportunity to hear from a range of experts about the digital euro and to contribute key insights towards its development. It is encouraging to observe how various actors are thinking about this topic and indicates the value that each sector of society can contribute towards shaping the digital euro. A recording of the event can be found here. We welcome the open initiative by the EESC to bring together industry experts, academics, and NGOs to contribute their perspectives on a digital euro, alongside representatives from the ECB and the European Commission.
About the European Economic and Social Committee
The EESC is a consultative body that gives representatives of Europe's socio-occupational interest groups and others a formal platform to express their points of view on EU issues. Its opinions are addressed to the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. It thus has a key role to play in the Union's decision-making process. The EESC contributes to strengthening the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness of the European Union by enabling civil society organisations from the Member States to express their views at European level.
About the Digital Euro Association
The Digital Euro Association (DEA) is a think tank specialising in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), stablecoins, crypto assets, and other forms of digital money based in Frankfurt, Germany. In particular, it focuses on the digital euro. It is the DEA's mission to contribute to the public and political discourse through research, education, and by providing a platform and community for policy-makers, technologists, and economists to discuss digital money-related topics. The DEA is committed to independence and excellence, aiming to set the agenda and shape policy by encouraging new ideas and forward-thinking in the field of digital money.