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Citizens’ enquiries on the ECB consultation procedure for the implementation of a digital euro

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Citizens often send messages to the President of the European Parliament (or to the institution’s public portal) expressing their views on current issues and/or requesting action from the Parliament. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (AskEP) within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) looks into these issues and replies to the messages, which may sometimes be identical as part of wider public campaigns.

The President of the European Parliament has recently received a large number of messages calling on the Parliament to intervene and prevent a public consultation on the possible introduction of a digital euro by the European Central Bank. Citizens first began to write to the President on this subject in October 2020. After the European Central Bank announced that it would launch a public consultation on the potential implementation of a digital euro, citizens voiced concerns that a purely digital euro could increase the ability of authorities to control and monitor them, thereby potentially restricting their civil liberties and financial independence. However, as indicated by the European Central Bank, a digital euro would be intended to complement, but not replace, cash. The European Parliament is closely following plans regarding digital forms of payment.

Please find below the main points of the reply sent to citizens who took the time to write to the President of the European Parliament on this matter (in English and German).

Main points made in the reply in English

In a press release dated 2 October 2020, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that the public consultation on the possible introduction of a digital euro would soon be launched. In it, the ECB stressed that a digital euro ‘would complement cash, not replace it’. Background information in this connection (plus an online registration form for taking part in the consultation exercise) can be found in the relevant section of the ECB website: A digital euro.

We would draw your attention to the fact that the ECB is independent and is not subject to instructions from the European Parliament or any other EU institution.

However, the ECB does have obligations and rights vis-à-vis other EU institutions. Accordingly, it is obliged to provide information to the parliamentary committee responsible. On 12 October 2020, for instance, in a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), ECB Executive Board Member Fabio Panetta presented the recently published report on a digital euro (currently available in English), by the Eurosystem High-Level Task Force on Central Bank Digital Currency, and subsequently discussed it with the committee Members. The Members welcomed investigations into digital forms of payment, but voiced their concerns on issues such as the inclusiveness and stability of financial systems. More information on the meeting can be found here.

Of the EU institutions, only the Commission has right of legislative initiative. Any legislation it proposed, following the consultation exercise, on the introduction of a digital euro would be subject to the ordinary legislative procedure. That means that it has to be thoroughly assessed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. When conducting their deliberations accordingly and taking decisions, Members perform their duties freely and independently and may not be bound by any instructions or receive a binding mandate.

You can of course directly contact both Members in general and the Members of the European Parliament’s ECON committee in particular, in order to inform them of your views on this issue.

We would furthermore draw your attention to the fact that, as an EU citizen, you are entitled to submit a petition to the European Parliament on a matter which comes within the European Union’s fields of activity and which affects you directly. Further details about submitting a petition can be found via the petitions web portal of the petitions section of the European Parliament’s website.

Main points made in the reply in German

In einer Pressemitteilung vom 2. Oktober 2020 verkündete die Europäische Zentralbank (EZB) den zeitnahen Beginn des von Ihnen erwähnten öffentlichen Konsultationsverfahrens für die mögliche Einführung eines digitalen Euros. Hierbei betonte die EZB, dass ein digitaler Euro „Bargeld ergänzen, aber nicht ersetzen [würde]“. Hintergrundinformationen dazu (ebenso wie ein elektronisches Teilnahmeformular für die Konsultation) finden Sie auf der einschlägigen Website Ein digitaler Euro der EZB.

Wir möchten Sie in diesem Zusammenhang gerne darauf hinweisen, dass die EZB unabhängig und frei von Weisungen des EP sowie anderer EU-Institutionen ist.

Die EZB besitzt jedoch gewisse Verpflichtungen und Rechte anderen EU-Institutionen gegenüber. So unterliegt sie der Pflicht zur Auskunftserteilung an den für die jeweilige Sachmaterie zuständigen parlamentarischen Ausschuss. Am 12. Oktober 2020 präsentierte beispielsweise Fabio Panetta, Mitglied des Direktoriums der EZB, den neulich veröffentlichten Bericht der „Taskforce des Eurosystems zum digitalen Euro“ (zur Zeit in englischer Sprache verfügbar) im parlamentarischen Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Währung (ECON), und diskutierte ihn anschließend mit den Abgeordneten. Die Abgeordneten des Ausschusses begrüßten die Erkundung digitaler Zahlungsformen, jedoch äußerten sie ihre Bedenken zu Themenbereichen wie allgemeine Zugänglichkeit und Stabilität der Finanzsysteme. Mehr Information zu diesem Treffen können Sie hier finden.

Sollte die Europäische Kommission als jenes Organ der EU, das das alleinige Initiativrecht im Bereich der Legislative besitzt, anschließend zur Konsultation eine Rechtsvorschrift zur Einführung eines digitalen Euros vorschlagen, so muss dieser Vorschlag zwingend das ordentliche Gesetzgebungsverfahren durchlaufen. Das bedeutet, dass er vom Europäischen Parlament und dem Rat der Europäischen Union eingehend geprüft werden muss. Hierbei sind die Abgeordneten des EP in ihren entsprechenden Beratungen und Beschlussfassungen frei und unabhängig in der Ausübung ihres Mandates und sind weder an Aufträge noch an Weisungen gebunden.

Selbstverständlich können Sie sowohl die Abgeordneten als auch die Mitglieder des parlamentarischen Ausschusses für Wirtschaft und Währung (ECON) unmittelbar kontaktieren, um ihnen Ihre Einschätzungen zu diesem Themengebiet mitzuteilen.

Darüber hinaus möchten wir Sie darauf hinweisen, dass Sie als EU-Bürger das Recht haben, beim EP eine Petition zu einem Thema einzureichen, das in den Tätigkeitsbereich der Europäischen Union fällt und Sie unmittelbar betrifft. Weitere Informationen zur Einreichung einer Petition finden Sie auf dem Petitionsportal der Webseite „Petitionen“ des EP.

About Ask EP

The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.

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