The European Union has given its final approval for the world’s first comprehensive set of rules to regulate crypto assets, known as the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation. This decision has put pressure on countries like the United States and the United Kingdom to follow suit. The regulations, which are expected to take effect from 2024, mandate that firms that want to issue, trade, and safeguard crypto assets, tokenized assets, and stablecoins within the 27-country bloc must obtain a license. According to Elisabeth Svantesson, the finance minister for Sweden, which holds the EU presidency, the need to impose regulations that better protect Europeans who have invested in these assets and prevent the misuse of the crypto industry for money laundering and financing terrorism has been confirmed by recent events.
The MiCA rules are set to increase transparency and establish a comprehensive framework for issuers and service providers. The regulatory framework aims to protect investors, preserve financial stability, and foster innovation and the attractiveness of the crypto-asset sector. The legislation covers a wide range of digital assets, including utility tokens, asset-referenced tokens, and stablecoins. Furthermore, it addresses services such as trading venues and wallets where crypto assets are held. Additionally, the regulations address market abuse, insider trading, and manipulative behavior in the cryptocurrency space.
The final step for MiCA to become EU law is for the bill to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. MiCA will come into effect within a year, meaning the regulations will become law halfway through 2024. Cryptocurrency service providers and proponents have welcomed the legislation as it creates a single market environment across Europe with regards to regulatory requirements and operating procedures. Countries without comprehensive crypto regulation, such as the United States, are “wandering in the desert a bit,” according to Hester Peirce, one of the commissioners at the US derivatives regulator CFTC, highlighting the significance of the EU’s pioneering move.