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Economy

EU landmark decision forces Aspen to reduce prices and guarantee supply of important cancer drugs

EU Reporter Correspondent

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In a strong signal to pharmaceutical companies the European Commission presented its decision to halt Aspen pharmaceutical from charging exorbitant prices for six drugs used in the treatment of leukaemia. The decision is an important one, as it will save health services millions in delivering vital treatment to cancer patients. 

“As a result of today's decision, Aspen has to radically reduce its prices across Europe for six medicines that are essential to treat certain serious forms of blood cancer, including myeloma and leukaemia,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president in charge of competition policy. “Some patients, including young children, depend on these medicines for their treatment. Aspen's commitments will save European health systems many dozens of million Euros and will ensure that these crucial medicines remain available.”

The European Commission has made commitments made by Aspen in negotiations with its services legally binding. Aspen has to reduce its prices in Europe for six critical cancer medicines by 73% on average. In addition, Aspen has to ensure the continued supply of these off-patent medicines for a ten year period.

The decision is an important one for anti-trust (competition) in pharma. A EU senior official said that for decades they were told that it would be impossible to enforce the rules against excessive pricing in this sector, with accusations that it could stifle innovation. However, this judgement shows that  the Commission can act and sets out some legal principles on how the rules apply, setting out comprehensive and practical guidance on how the rules on excessive pricing can be applied in the pharmaceutical sector. The Commission hopes that it will be helpful to industry and stakeholders in assessing what can be considered excessive.

When asked if this case means that the EU could be looking at a slew of other cases, the senior official said that the Commission didn’t have its eye on a particular case, but it had its eyes wide open. He added that different competition authorities in EU member states have confirmed investigations against excessive pricing in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy; the official said they were vigilant and if necessary ready to take action. 

Italy is not part of this decision as it already applied a judgement.

EU

Trillion euro GDP opportunity if Europe embraces digitalization, report reveals

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A new report, Digitalization: An opportunity for Europe, shows how increased digitalization of Europe’s services and value chains over the next six years could boost the European Union’s GDP per capita by 7.2% – equivalent to a €1 trillion increase in overall GDP. The report, commissioned by Vodafone and conducted by Deloitte, looks at the five key measures – connectivity, human capital, use of internet services, integration of digital technology and digital public services – that are measured by the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), and reveals that even modest improvements can have a big impact.

Using data1 from all 27 EU countries and the United Kingdom across 2014-2019, the report reveals that a 10% increase in the overall DESI score for a member state is associated with a 0.65% higher GDP per capita,assuming other key factors remain constant, such as labour, capital, government consumption and investment in the economy. However, if the digital allocation from the EU recovery package, particularly the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), was concentrated in areas that could see all member states reach a DESI score of 90 by 2027 (the end of the EU’s budget cycle), GDP across the EU could increase by as much 7.2%.

Countries with lower GDP per capita in 2019 stand to be the biggest beneficiaries: if Greece were to raise its score from 31 in 2019 to 90 by 2027, this would increase GDP per capita by 18.7% GDP and productivity in the long term by 17.9%. In fact, a number of significant member states, including Italy, Romania, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic would all see GDP rises of over 10%.

Vodafone Group External Affairs Group Director Joakim Reiter said: “Digital technology has been a lifeline for many over the last year, and this report provides concrete demonstration of how further digitalisation really is essential to repair our economies and societies following the pandemic. But it puts a clear onus on policy-makers to now make sure that the funds allocated by the Next Generation EU recovery instrument are used wisely, so that we can unlock these significant benefits for all citizens.

“This crisis has pushed the boundaries of what all of us thought was possible. Now is the time to have the courage and set a clear, high bar for how we rebuild our societies and fully leverage digital to that effect. DESI - and the call for “90 by 27” - provides such a robust and ambitious framework to drive concrete benefits of digitisation and should form an integral part of measuring the success of the EU reconstruction facility, and Europe’s Digital Decade ambitions more broadly.”

Digitalisation can enable economic and societal resilience not only when it comes to connectivity and new technologies, but also by driving the digital skills of citizens and the performance of public services. Previous studies have already established broadly positive links between digitalisation and economic indicators.

This new report goes one step further, and builds on an earlier Vodafone report, also produced by Deloitte, that also looks at the wider benefits of digitalization, which include:

  • Economic: An increase in GDP per capita between 0.6% and 18.7%, depending on the country; with the EU seeing an overall increase in GDP per capita of 7.2% by 2027;
  • Environmental: the more we use digital technologies, the greater the environmental benefits, from the reduction in paper use to more efficient cities and less use of fossil fuels – for example, using Vodafone’s Internet of Things (IoT) technology in vehicles can cut fuel consumption by 30%, saving an estimated 4.8million tonnes of CO2e last year;
  • Quality of life: innovations in eHealth can improve our personal wellbeing and smart city technologies support our health with lower emissions and mortality – rolling out eHealth solutions across the EU could prevent as many as 165,000 deaths a year, and;
  • Inclusivity: the digital ecosystem opens up opportunities to more members of society. As we invest in digital skills and tools, we can share the benefits of digitalization more equitably – for example, for every 1,000 new broadband users in rural areas, 80 new jobs are created.

Sam Blackie, partner and head of EMEA Economic Advisory, Deloitte, said: “The adoption of new technologies and digital platforms across the EU will create a strong foundation for economic growth, creating new opportunities for products and services and boosting productivity and efficiencies. Economies with low-levels of digital adoption stand to benefit considerably from digitisation, which will encourage further collaboration and innovation across Europe.”

In addition to commissioning this report, Vodafone has a number of initiatives, at both EU and member state levels, that will support the drive towards digitalization and the push for 90 for 27. Visit www.vodafone.com/EuropeConnected for more details.

Select Member States GDP and productivity increase if they reached 90 on the DESI by 2027:


NLIEESDECZPTHUITROGR
2019 DESI score63.65853.651.247.34742.341.636.535.1
% increase in GDP if country gets to 90 on DESI0.590.984.387.8110.0610.1611.4311.6516.4818.70
% increase in productivity if country gets to 90 on DESI4.706.307.708.6010.3010.5012.9013.3016.7017.90

The report utilises data from 27 EU countries and the United Kingdom across 2014-2019 to develop econometric analyses of the economic impacts of digitalisation, as measured by the DESI, on GDP per capita and on long-term productivity. This builds on approaches used in previous literature to study the impact of technology and digital infrastructure on economic indicators. For more information on the methodology, please see the technical annex of the report here.

About the DESI

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) was created by the EU to monitor Europe's overall digital performance and track the progress of EU countries with respect to their digital competitiveness. It measures five important aspects of digitalization: connectivity, human capital (digital skills), use of internet services, integration of digital technology (focusing on businesses) and digital public services. EU and country scores are out of 100. DESI reports on digitalisation progress across the EU are published annually.

About Vodafone

Vodafone is a leading telecommunications company in Europe and Africa. Our purpose is to “connect for a better future” and our expertise and scale gives us a unique opportunity to drive positive change for society. Our networks keep family, friends, businesses and governments connected and – as COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated – we play a vital role in keeping economies running and the functioning of critical sectors like education and healthcare.  

Vodafone is the largest mobile and fixed network operator in Europe and a leading global IoT connectivity provider. Our M-Pesa technology platform in Africa enables over 45m people to benefit from access to mobile payments and financial services. We operate mobile and fixed networks in 21 countries and partner with mobile networks in 48 more. As of 31 December 2020, we had over 300m mobile customers, more than 27m fixed broadband customers, over 22m TV customers and we connected more than 118m IoT devices. 

We support diversity and inclusion through our maternity and parental leave policies, empowering women through connectivity and improving access to education and digital skills for women, girls, and society at large. We are respectful of all individuals, irrespective of race, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, belief, culture or religion.

Vodafone is also taking significant steps to reduce our impact on our planet by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025 and becoming net zero by 2040, purchasing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and reusing, reselling or recycling 100% of our redundant network equipment.

For more information, please click here, follow us on Twitter or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About Deloitte

In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Please click here for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

1 Data sources include the World Bank, Eurostat, and the European Commission.

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EU

Has Europe finally lost patience with its imported oligarchs?

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EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell’s disastrous trip to Russia in early February has cast a long shadow over the continent. It’s not the first time that a top European diplomat has failed to stand up to the Kremlin, but the humiliating scenes from Moscow—from Borrell’s conspicuous silence while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the EU an “unreliable partner” to Borrell finding out via Twitter that Russia had expelled three European diplomats for attending demonstrations supporting opposition leader Alexei Navalny—seem to have struck a particular nerve among European policymakers.

Not only are calls multiplying for Borrell’s resignation, but the diplomatic dustup seems to have whetted European politicians’ appetite for new sanctions on Putin’s inner circle. Navalny himself laid out the blueprint for fresh sanctions before he was jailed, composing a target list of oligarchs. A number of the names under consideration, such as Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, have long skirted Western scrutiny despite serious allegations against them and tight ties to Putin. Indeed, European policymakers have shown a remarkable tolerance for the business dons who’ve flocked to their shores—even as they have utterly failed to integrate into European societies, scorning Western court rulings and remaining in lockstep with the cronyist networks that prop up Putin’s regime. In the wake of the Navalny saga and Borrell’s catastrophic journey to Moscow, have Western lawmakers finally run out of patience?

New targets after Navalny affair

Russia’s relations with both the EU and the UK have come under increasing strain since Alexei Navalny was poisoned last August with the Soviet nerve agent Novichok, and have plunged to new lows in the wake of his arrest in January. Even before Borrell’s ill-fated trip, there was growing momentum for imposing fresh restrictions on Russia. The European Parliament voted 581-50 in late January to “significantly strengthen the EU’s restrictive measures vis-à-vis Russia”, while opposition MPs have challenged the UK government to draw up fresh sanctions. The pressure to take a tough line has reached a fever pitch after Borrell’s humiliation in Moscow, with even the Russian ambassador in London admitting that the Kremlin is expecting new sanctions from the EU and the UK.

Britain and the European Union already rolled out some sanctions last October, targeting six Russian officials and a state-run scientific research centre believed to have been involved in deploying the banned chemical weapon against Navalny. Now, however, Navalny and his allies are not only calling for a second wave of consequences but are advocating for a strategic shift regarding which pressure points the sanctions are aimed at.

Navalny believes that the oligarchs and ‘stoligarchs’ (state sponsored oligarchs like Arkady Rotenberg, who recently claimed that the opulent “Putin Palace” Navalny profiled in an exposé was actually his) whose funds freely move throughout Europe should be the target of fresh sanctions, rather than the mid-ranking intelligence officials who have historically shouldered the consequences. “The main question we should ask ourselves is why these people are poisoning, killing and fabricating elections,” Navalny told an EU hearing in November, “And the answer is very very simple: money. So the European Union should target the money and Russian oligarchs.”

A swipe at Putin’s regime, but also long-awaited retribution

The opposition leader’s allies, who have picked up the fight for fresh sanctions after Navalny was handed a two year and eight month jail sentence, have argued that personal sanctions against high-profile oligarchs with assets in the West could lead to “intra-elite conflicts” which would destabilise the network of wealthy allies that enables and legitimates Putin’s criminal behaviour.

Taking a tougher line on oligarchs with a chequered past, however, would have benefits above and beyond putting direct pressure on Putin’s administration. Just as Borrell stood by silently as Sergei Lavrov lambasted the European bloc he was supposed to represent, the West has sent a troubling message by rolling out the red carpet for oligarchs who have repeatedly tried to sidestep the European rule of law.

Just take the case of tycoon Farkhad Akhmedov. A close friend of Abramovich’s, Akhmedov was ordered by the British High Court to hand over 41.5% of his fortune—adding up to £453 million—to his ex-wife Tatiana, who has lived in the UK since 1994. The gas billionaire has not only refused to cough up the divorce payment, but has embarked on a no-holds-barred attack against the British legal system and has concocted what British judges described as elaborate schemes in order to evade the UK court decision.  

Akhmedov promptly declared that the London High Court decision was “worth as much as toilet paper” and suggested that the divorce judgment was part of a British conspiracy against Putin and Russia writ large—but he didn’t limit himself to inflammatory rhetoric questioning the integrity of the British judicial system. The controversial billionaire apparently enlisted his son, 27-year-old London trader Temur, to help him move and hide assets out of reach. Ahead of a court date to answer questions about the “gifts” his father showered him with, including a £29 million Hyde Park flat and £35 million to play the stock market, Temur fled the UK for Russia. His father, meanwhile, turned to a Dubai sharia law court—which did not recognise the Western legal principle of shared assets between spouses—in order to keep his £330 million superyacht safe from the UK High Court’s worldwide freezing order on his assets.

The extraordinary lengths to which Akhmedov apparently went to thwart the British justice system are sadly par for the course for the oligarchs who installed themselves in European capitals without adopting European values or leaving behind the complex cronyism on which they, and Putin’s regime, depend.

European policymakers have been slow to address this new breed of robber barons. Properly targeted, the next round of sanctions could kill two birds with one stone, ratcheting up pressure on Putin’s inner circle while also sending a message to tycoons who have long enjoyed their assets in the West with impunity.

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Economy

European Commission and ECB to launch a digital euro project

Colin Stevens

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Are you ready to use a ‘digital wallet’? For the uninitiated, this refers to a virtual currency that is meant to be a complement to the cash in peoples’ wallets. Eurozone central bankers are leaning towards a rollout of the so-called digital euro later this year. The digital euro will be an electronic form of central-bank money, meant to be accessible to all. The new payment instrument is just one part of a revolution currently taking place in the sometimes shadowy world of crypto currencies.

These range from crypto and stable coins to crypto tokens.

European Union finance ministers hope to steal a march on the rest of the world with the unofficial launch, possibly as early as the spring, of a digital euro.

This, in part, aims to counter the Diem project, a single dollar-backed digital coin. Diem, which means “day” in Latin,  is backed by social media giant Facebook and 26 other companies who plan to launch the payments service this year.

EU political figures have urged speedy action to match China and other central banks who are also considering virtual versions of their money.

The digital euro is a complex project that would facilitate payments but could also shake the foundations of the financial system. It would also take on the U.S. dollar’s global influence in the sector.

A digital euro aims to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, physical cash and does not imply that banknotes and coins will disappear.

It aims to take account of digitalisation, rapid changes in the payments landscape and the emergence of crypto-assets.

Debate about a digital euro, though, has put the focus firmly on the issues around cryptocurrencies.

Facebook was  one of the first out of the blocks with its announcement last summer of the project to launch its own digital currency (initially named Libra but since renamed Diem)

Some central banks, including Sweden and China, are now working on digital versions of their own currencies.

The commission and ECB hope to launch a digital euro project towards the middle of 2021.

“Such a project would answer key design and technical questions and provide the ECB with the necessary tools to stand ready to issue a digital euro if such a decision is taken,” the two institutions say in a joint statement. 

A Commission spokesman said a range of “policy, legal and technical questions” were still be addressed.

The ECB launched a public consultation on the introduction of a digital euro as a central bank digital currency in November 2020. This is designed to be  a chance for people to express their priorities, preferences and concerns about the issuance of a digital euro as a central bank digital currency and means of payment in the euro area.

Fabio Panetta, a member of the ECB’s Executive Board, recently wrote to MEP Irene Tinagli, chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) in the European Parliament, about the matter.

This coincided with Panetta’s recent hearing before the committee following the publication of the Euro system report on a digital euro. The public consultation closed on 12 January 2021 and generated a particularly impressive response.

Panetta says the response reflects the growing interest in an issue that, until recently, has been on the periphery.

He said: “I am pleased to say that 8,221 citizens, firms and industry associations responded to the online questionnaire, a record for ECB public consultations.

“The high number of responses to our survey shows that Europe's citizens, firms and academics are keenly interested in shaping the vision of a digital euro. The opinions of all stakeholders are of utmost importance to us as we assess the need, feasibility and risks and benefits of a digital euro.”

The Italian says a digital euro would “combine the efficiency” of a digital payment instrument with the “safety” of central bank money.

“The protection of privacy would be a key priority, so that the digital euro can help maintain trust in payments in the digital age.”

He said: “We will now analyse in detail the large number of responses.”

An initial analysis of raw data shows that privacy of payments ranks highest among the requested features of a potential digital euro (41% of replies) followed by security (17%) and pan-European reach (10%).

The ECB board member cautioned: “The public consultation was designed to be open to everyone without restrictions. At the same time, given its nature and the fact that respondents answered the questionnaire of their own free will and were not selected on the basis of any particular criteria, data gathered through the consultation were never intended to be representative of the views of the EU's population as a whole and should not be interpreted as such."

The ECB, said the official, will continue to analyse the responses and publish a “comprehensive” analysis of the consultation in the spring which “will play an important role” in helping the ECB Governing Council decide whether or not to launch a digital euro project.

He said: “I very much look forward to reporting the details of the analysis on this important topic in the spring.”

So, what are the perceived benefits of a digital euro?

Well, one potential advantage is that savers, for example, could see more benefit in holding digital euros than depositing their cash in accounts, which can come with fees and offer little return at current rates.

A digital euro could, additionally, facilitate payments across Europe and offer the opportunity to every euro area citizen to have a deposit account in the perceived safe hands of the ECB.

 But several outstanding issues remain to be settled, including the technology that would power the digital euro.

Another issue is the level of privacy, one of the top concerns raised in the ECB’s public consultation.

The recently published Euro system report on a digital euro stated that "a digital euro could support the digitalisation of the EU’s economy and its strategic autonomy", especially when it comes to correspondent banking for international business.

It also describes two approaches to how a digital euro might work: one that requires intermediaries to process the payment and one that doesn’t.

The ECB explained: “If we design a digital euro that has no need for the central bank or an intermediary to be involved in the processing of every single payment, this means that using a digital euro would feel closer to cash payments, but in digital form – you would be able to use the digital euro even when not connected to the internet, and your privacy and personal data would be better protected.”

It says the other approach is to design a digital euro with intermediaries recording the transaction. This would work online and allow broader potential for additional services to be provided to citizens and businesses, creating innovation opportunities and possible synergies with existing services.

Senior Member of the European Parliament Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, Vice-Chair of the influential ECON committee, spoke to this site about the digital euro, saying: "As for every project related to the digitalisation of our economy, the digital euro should be built with innovation, consumer protection, and financial stability in mind.”

The French RE member added: “I trust the ECB's expertise in striking this delicate balance."

In the meantime, the Commission and ECB will continue their cooperation on a digital euro and pursuing their efforts towards “ensuring a strong and vibrant European digital finance sector and a well-integrated payments sector to respond to new payment needs in Europe.”

ECB president Christine Lagarde said: “We are still in the review and consideration stage, but we’ve just completed a public consultation so that consumers and Europeans can actually express their preference and tell us whether they would be happy to use a digital euro just in the way they use a euro coin or a euro banknote, knowing that it is central bank money that is available and that they can rely upon.”

The French born official added: “We have received a mine of information which we are currently processing. It is only in Spring, probably in April, that we will determine whether or not to go ahead with the work that will need to be done.

“My hunch, but this is a decision that will be taken collectively, is that we might well go in that direction,”

Lagarde cautioned, though that she sees at least a five-year timeline as a “feasible timeline” for a digital euro.

“This is a complicated issue that has to be resolved without disrupting the current financial scene nor jeopardising monetary policy decisions.”

Further comment comes from Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis who said: “I think we need a digital euro. I can really say that this debate is ongoing and progress is being made in this direction.

“The ECB and European Commission will jointly review a broad range of policy, legal and technical questions and there are some design questions which we would need to answer. But we can see how digital euros can be used in international payments.”

Leo Van Hove, a professor of monetary economics at the Solvay Business School at Vrije University Brussels (VUB), is another who has given a guarded welcome to  a digital euro. He said the main attraction of the digital euro, if and when it happens, lies in its risk-free nature.

As emphasized by Lagarde, a core role of the ECB is to secure trust in money. Unlike commercial banks, a central bank cannot go bust, as it can create money out of thin air.

He says that if the digital euro is to become an effective new monetary policy instrument  then the “holding limits” cannot be too tight.

“If the ECB really only wants to be a 'payment service provider of last resort' and, in this way, maintain the intermediation function of banks, Euro system officials clearly face a difficult – and strange – balancing act.”

In order to tackle such policy, legal, and technical challenges, the ECB and the European Commission set up on 19 January a joint working group to facilitate the preparatory work.

Last October, the ECB also presented its study on the issue to the ECON committee.

German MEO Markus Ferber, who is the EPP Coordinator in the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee explained: “I rather have a digital Lagarde-Euro than a Zuckerberg-Libra. In sensitive areas such as payments, we need to keep central banks in charge and not private consortia, as is the case with Facebook’s Libra.”

Ferber noted: “The ECB’s presentation last autumn also made clear that there are still numerous challenges to be overcome before a digital euro goes live - with safety, financial stability and data protection, the list is long.”

Ferber told this website: “The ECB has to make a very strong case about the actual added value of a central-bank sponsored digital currency. Digital central bank money is not an end in itself. One thing must be very clear though: a digital Euro can only complement cash as a means of payment and must not replace it.”

While we're all used to the idea of digital currency - spending and receiving money that isn’t physically in front of us – cryptocurrencies - digital, decentralized currencies that uses cryptography for security - still remain something of a mystery to most.

Aside from a digital euro, there are crypto coins such as bitcoin which continues to trade close to its all-time high reached in January. Its price is now over US $57,000, up about 77% over the past month and 305% over the past year.

First launched in 2009 as a digital currency, Bitcoin was for a while used as digital money on the fringes of the economy.

Bitcoin is still used and is very actively traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, which allow users to swap ‘ordinary’ money like euros for bitcoins.

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency and accounts for over half of the $285 billion global coin trading market. But that dominance is under threat, with a host of alternative digital coins emerging as developers race to build cryptocurrencies able to enter mainstream commerce and finance.

There are also crypto tokens such as LGR Global’s Silk Road Coin (SRC). This is an innovative blockchain-powered technology solution, called a utility token, which is used to access a suite of next-gen trade finance and money-movement services within LGR’s secured digital business enviroment.

LGR Global’s founder and CEO, Ali Amirliravi explained to EU Reporter the business case for using a utility token such as the SRC rather than Bitcoin for international cross border trade:

“The value fluctuations that we are seeing in the market right now makes Bitcoin very interesting for investors and speculators, however for business clients looking to quickly and reliably transfer value cross-border, these fluctuations can cause complications and accounting headaches. What the trade finance industry is really looking for is a way to leverage the benefits of digital assets (i.e. speed, transparency, cost), while hedging against uncertainty and value fluctuations. LGR’s secure business environment harnesses the power of the SRC blockchain utility token and combines it with a single fiat currency pair (EUR-CNY) in order to offer our clients the best of both worlds”

Additionally, there are stable coins such as America’s USDTether. Unlike many digital currencies, which tend to fluctuate wildly against the dollar, Tether is pegged to the US currency.

This is supposed to protect investors from the volatility that can affect Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin. Tether is the ninth-biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, with coins worth around $3.5 billion in existence.

Not to be outdone China is inevitably also pioneering its own digital Yuan, a payment system created by the Chinese state and known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP).

Like Bitcoin, DCEP utilises a blockchain technology, a type of digitised ledger used to verify transactions. Blockchain acts as a universal record of every transaction ever made on that network, and users collaborate to verify new transactions when they occur.

While China has not offered a timetable for an official launch of the DCEP, the country’s central bank, is aiming for a wider test of the digital yuan before the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics, scheduled to take place in Beijing next February.

One other class of cryptocurrency that is proving to be very popular and perhaps stands a better chance at becoming more popular than physical currency are so-called ‘stable-coins’, that is cryptocurrencies whose value is linked to ‘normal’ currencies like the US dollar, the euro and the pound, so that unlike Bitcoin, one unit can’t be worth £26,000 one year, and £6,000 two years later.  Some controversy surrounds such currencies, though. For example, an Israeli crypto-currency trading company, CoinDash, reporting that $7m  was stolen from investors last July after its website was breached and an initial coin offering's contact address altered and a South Korean exchange, Yapizon, was breached in April with hackers suspected of stealing about $5m worth of funds

Like any fast developing space mushrooming with new technologies, there are higher quality cryptocurrencies and lower quality ones.

Whether cryptocurrency becomes more popular than physical currency in the future remains to be seen but, speaking to EU Reporter, Dutch MEP Derk Jan Eppink, said, "Central Bank Digital Currency, or CBDC, raises a fundamental question about the role of a central bank. Certainly, the digital euro would provide consumers with a digital claim on the central bank that is as safe as cash. 

"But on the other hand, with the issue of CBDC commercial banks would lose an essential source of funding and would have to rely increasingly on bonds or central bank credit for funding."

Looking to the future, the European Conservatives and Reformists deputy declares, "Let us hope that the call from Benoît Cœuré for a “monetary Hippocratic oath” will serve us all."


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