Lawmakers had previously considered regulation of cryptocurrencies a marginal issue, until the emergence of talks about launching Libra.
The European Union’s finance commissioner pledged on Tuesday to propose new rules to regulate virtual currencies, in a reaction to Facebook’s plans to introduce Libra, which the EU considers a risk to financial stability.
France and Germany have said that Libra, whose size would dwarf cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, could limit their monetary sovereignty.
“Europe needs a common approach on crypto-assets such as Libra,” Valdis Dombrovskis told EU lawmakers in a confirmation hearing. “I intend to propose new legislation on this.”
The EU has no specific regulations on cryptocurrencies, which, until Libra was announced in June, had been considered a marginal issue by most decision-makers because only a fraction of bitcoins or other digital coins are converted into Euros.
Dombrovskis has resisted regulating digital currencies in the five years he has served so far. He made it clear his change of heart stemmed from Facebook’s plans for Libra, a digital currency that “could have systemic effects on financial stability,” he told lawmakers.