Last Updated: 22 August 2022
The European Union is about to set up a brand new regulator to get a better grip on cryptocurrency and its industry. This regulator will be responsible for the entire Union.
Part of anti-money laundering
The regulator, which has yet to be appointed, must fall under AML, short for anti-money laundering. This is a broad package of EU policies against money laundering. AML also includes the Markets in Crypto Assets package and the controversial Transfer of Funds regulation.
Last July, the European Commission shared a proposal for the Sixth AML/CFT Directive, or AMLD6. The European Council issued its version in June. After the summer break in August, it is the European Parliament’s turn. After approval, the three EU bodies must negotiate the actual implementation.
Agreement on spirit of cryptocurrency legislation
The three bodies seem to agree on the direction the new legislation should take, namely, the reduction of money laundering through direct supervision of crypto companies in the EU.
Actually, when it comes to cryptocurrencies regulation, the European Parliament has always been the most aggressive of the three bodies. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Parliament will oppose the creation of a new crypto regulator.
Crypto companies become financial service providers
The regulator, also called “Anti-Money Laundering Authority” or “AMLA,” will at least control “risky” crypto companies directly as financial service providers. At least, that’s what the Commission and Council versions submitted say.
“EU-level supervision consisting of a hub-and-spoke model — i.e., EU-level supervisor competent for direct supervision of certain financial institutions (FIs), indirect supervision/coordination of the other FIs, and a coordinating role for supervision of the non-financial sector as a first step.”
From Member States to Europe
A cross-border supervisor changes a lot about the current situation. Previous AML directives from 2015 and 2018 set standards for member states to collect and make available data, such as information on beneficial ownership of companies.
Consider, for example, how the Netherlands requires all crypto companies to have a (paid) registration with De Nederlandsche Bank. In order to get on this register, companies have to comply with a specific set of rules, which only apply to crypto companies that want to offer their wares in the Netherlands (so this also applies to international companies like Binance).
Other countries have different rules, so crypto companies have to make a separate application in each EU country.
Good for European crypto companies
The legal departments of the various crypto companies are working overtime because of the fragmentation, at least if they want to do business in other European countries.
In that respect, it seems better for the crypto industry that there should be one regulator in Europe instead of each country having its own regulator. Whether it is good or bad also depends on the requirements and the costs involved.
AMLD5 stated that member states should treat crypto exchanges as financial institutions. But that implementation was left to the Member States. Some countries interpreted these rules differently than others. The Netherlands was, as always, the good boy of the class, quickly implemented the registration with DNB.
It is not yet 100% clear when the new European supervisor can start. This depends on the negotiations between the European Parliament and the subsequent trialogues in which the commission is involved. The implementation of the regulation, including the staffing of the supervisory body, will take years. But there seems little doubt that such a regulator will come anyway.