Friday, June 14, 2024

Eva Kaili arrest a ‘setback’ for EU crypto regulations, economist says

The arrest of European Parliamentarian and cryptocurrency proponent Eva Kaili has been labeled as a blow to the ecosystem by prominent blockchain industry participants.

Kaili, one of 14 European Parliament vice presidents, was arrested and charged on Dec. 10 by Belgian prosecutors who are investigating allegations of corruption, money laundering and criminal organization involving Qatar and senior policy-makers in Europe.

Belgian police reportedly seized 600,000 euros in cash as well as computers and cell phones belonging to Kaili and three other individuals involved in the probe. Kaili has since been suspended from the European Parliament, which she’s been a member of since 2014.

Kaili has been a vocal supporter of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in the European Parliament and has played an important role in providing direction to the governing body’s approach to the sector in recent years.

Erwin Voloder, senior policy fellow at the European Blockchain Association, told Cointelegraph that the allegations against Kaili cannot be downplayed but admits that her arrest removes a much-needed voice to support the cryptocurrency space.

Voloder also highlighted Kaili’s role in leading the DLT Pilot Regime and 2016 Blockchain Resolution as well as her role as a shadow rapporteur, in which she lobbied to elevate blockchain technology during the 2020 InvestEU proposals.

Related: European Parliament members vote in favor of crypto and blockchain tax policies

Kaili also took the reins in an individual drive to explore nonfungible tokens (NFTs) within the purview of the European Union’s recently adopted Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulations. Voloder said Kaili’s efforts to explore NFTs from a financial services and industrial application perspective were positive for the blockchain space.

Voloder went on to highlight what he observed as “negative and uninformed arguments” against blockchain and Web3 technology at the German Bundestag in mid-December. The economist believes this negative sentiment is pervasive across the continent:

“I think we have a similar problem at the EU level in that ideology can play an outsized role in driving how a certain technology or industry is perceived, especially in today’s hyper-partisan climate.”

Voloder also questioned whether macro-events in the cryptocurrency space, including the implosion of FTX, have played a role in branding the ecosystem as “industry non grata and guilty by association.”

Kaili’s expulsion from parliament leaves a gap for an equally vocal and passionate cryptocurrency proponent to drive regulatory exploration. Voloder did provide an optimistic take, referring to a recent workshop at the European Parliament that saw industry experts and commission officials presenting varying views on the sector.

Voloder also speculated that the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) could also take up the mantle in developing a framework for the NFT and decentralized finance sector.

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