Officials in the EU Consider Banning Bitcoin Trading

EU officials discuss Bitcoin

EU officials don’t like Bitcoin, new documents have revealed.

A report published Thursday by digital rights group Netzpolitik highlighted the extent of anti-Bitcoin talks between European Union officials. A number of documents obtained via freedom-of-information requests provide evidence that the EU has made significant progress in discussions to ban Bitcoin mining and trade. 

One document containing the minutes from an EU meeting with Sweden’s financial supervisor and environmental agency discussed the growth of Bitcoin mining in the country. One speaker asked if authorities could force Bitcoin to switch to the less-energy-intensive Proof-of-Stake verification mechanism. The document said:

“If Ethereum is able to shift, we could legitimately request the same from BTC. We need to ‘protect’ other crypto coins that are sustainable. Don’t see [the] need to ‘protect’ the Bitcoin community.”

In the same meeting, another speaker bluntly asked whether the EU should put a blanket ban on trading crypto assets based on Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work algorithm. Although the answer to this question was redacted to protect the “ongoing decision-making process,” it highlights that such measures were clearly under consideration. 

However, the most alarming statement came at the end of the meeting when officials were discussing the implications of a ban on investors. “How would [the] disappearance of Bitcoin affect consumers?” asked one person involved. “Participants in BTC are fully aware of the volatility of the currency/investment risk. Do not need additional protection measures,” was written in response. 

The discussion seems to be unconcerned about the thousands of people around the globe for whom Bitcoin is a lifeline. From Ukrainians using cryptocurrencies to help them flee war to Argentinians investing in Bitcoin to escape inflation, the EU seems to disregard the benefits of Bitcoin’s decentralized, peer-to-peer payments system while instead focusing solely on its energy usage.

The fundamental lack of understanding of cryptocurrencies was further highlighted when one person involved questioned, “Which service does Bitcoin offer that Solana does not offer to society? If you can prove that other cryptocurrencies can operate without Proof-of-Work then why can’t Bitcoin?”

Solana is far more centralized than Bitcoin, despite all its benefits. It operates primarily under the Solana Foundation’s control. Bitcoin on the other side is far more decentralized. This allows excess energy for conversion into a valuable asset. Bitcoin also offers peer-to-peer trading that is more secure and uncensored. 

This same lack of understanding manifests in calls to “change the code,” referring to a recent Greenpeace campaign to get Bitcoin to switch from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake. This mantra is very popular with EU politicians and environmental groups, but they fail to realize that Bitcoin is not strongly influenced by Solana. There is no group you can lobby to bend Bitcoin to your will; it’s a decentralized network of individual actors. 

The document, released today by Netzpolitik, is eye-opening and covers a meeting that was held in November 2021. The EU Parliament has voted against any legislation that would have banned Proof-of-Work mining. However, the document gives valuable insight into some EU officials’ approaches to regulating Bitcoin. While Proof-of-Stake cryptocurrencies seem safe, Bitcoin will likely remain a hotly debated issue in European politics. 

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