Dirk A. Zetzsche, Filippo Annunziata, Douglas W. Arner, Ross P. Buckley
Published in November 2020
Abstract: The European Commission published its new Digital Finance Strategy on 24 September 2020. One of the centrepieces of the Strategy is the draft Regulation on Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA), designed to provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for digital assets in the EU.
With MiCA the EU Commission has proposed bespoke regulation for utility tokens and stablecoins including payments tokens, asset-backed tokens and “significant” stablecoins (including “global stablecoins”). As to investment and securities tokens, the EU Digital Finance Strategy relies on the existing body of EU financial and securities law, with the Prospectus Regulation, the MiFID framework as well as the UCITSD and AIFMD at its core, with the intention to incorporate necessary changes as part of the existing ongoing amendment and review processes. MiCA provides for a bespoke prospectus regime for crypto-assets, with the issuing of e-money tokens (i.e. payment tokens), asset-referenced tokens (also known as stablecoins) and crypto-asset services being regulated activities subject to licensing. While supervision of crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) will rest with national authorities, supervision of significant asset-referenced and e-money tokens will rest mainly with the European Banking Authority.
The EU Digital Finance Strategy marks a very important step for the EU in developing both innovation and the Single Market. At the same time, while MiCA is an ambitious legislative project, there is room for improvement. First, the scope of MiCA remains uncertain as the draft MiCA does not clearly delineate between utility tokens subject to MiCA and investment tokens subject to EU securities law. Second, a systematic approach to EU law is absent. Thresholds and concepts known from other EU laws should be firmly embedded in MiCA. Third, a framework for supervisory cooperation with regard to truly global stablecoins is missing.