The vision of Eva Kaili, VP of the European Parliament on Blockchain – Cointerview#1

For the launch of its Cointerview column, which will interview influential members of the Crypto and Blockchain ecosystem, Coinpri was pleased to speak with Eva Kaili, the Vice President of the European Parliament. What is the future for cryptocurrencies and blockchain? What is the famous MiCa law that everyone is talking about? Will the United Arab Emirates be the leader in blockchain by 2030 or will the European Union win? All the answers can be found here, enjoy your reading.

Who is Eva Kaili, Vice President of the European Parliament?

Hello Eva, can you introduce yourself to Coinpri readers?

Hello Yacine and thank you for welcoming me on Coinpri.

As you just said, my name is Eva Kaili and in January 2022 I was elected Vice President of the European Parliament for the second half of the ninth legislature.

I am also the first woman to chair the C4AI (Centre for Artificial Intelligence) panel and the STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) panel, whose role is to analyze issues related to science and technology.

What does a vice president coincretely do?

Well a lot of things, as you can imagine, it’s a demanding job!

But more concretely on top of all my responsabilities, I have worked intensively on promoting innovation as a driving force behind the European Digital Single/Internal Market and have been the drafter of legislation in the areas of online platform technology, Big Data, fintech, AI, cybersecurity, as well as the European Fund for Strategic Investments InvestEU program (EFSI2) and FuelEU Maritime. And of course, the reason I’m at Coinpri: Blockchain.

In addition to chairing the C4AI and the STOA panels, my responsibilities include:

  • Parliament’s Information & Communication Technology (ICT) innovation strategy;
  • Informatics & Telecommunications;
  • The European System of Strategic and Policy Analysis;
  • Corporate Social Responsibility;
  • The replacement of the president for business associations, the Middle East and multilateral organizations, including the UN and the WTO.

I am also a member of these following committees:

  • Industry;
  • Research and Energy;
  • Economic and Monetary Affairs;
  • Budgets;
  • The special committee on artificial intelligence in the digital age;
  • The recently created commission of inquiry on the use of the Pegasus spyware.

Finally to finish my long list, I am also :

  • Rapporteur for the S&D (Social & Democrat) group for cybersecurity legislation in the EU institutions and the Pegasus Committee of Inquiry;
  • Member of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (DACP);
  • Member of the Delegation for elations with the Arabian Peninsula (DARP);
  • Member of the Delegation for relations with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (DNAT).

Wow, indeed! So, how does one become a vice president, is there a classic path?

Ahaa, as you know, you have to be elected. Then we all have our own background.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering, as well as a postgraduate degree in International and European Affairs.

Before my political career I was a journalist and news anchor in Greece. Then I was a member of the Greek Parliament from 2007 to 2012, and then I was elected as Member of the European Parliament.

What future for blockchain in Europe, the UAE and the MENA region?

When did you discover blockchain technology?

I discovered blockchain technology in its early days, when it was all about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Curious by nature and a former journalist, I was intrigued by this new technology. I did my research to educate myself and learn more while following how it was perceived in the world.

It was an interesting journey that not only opened my mind but also made me realize the power of blockchain as an infrastructure and as a network. I then understood that like the Internet, blockchain will transform all markets, all businesses and all economies.

And when I see the progression of the Blockchain today, I have the feeling that I was not mistaken. It continues its democratization and evolution while creating synergies with other disruptive technologies while leveraging human-machine and machine-machine interactions.

You said it yourself, you did your research on the technology and its origins. It is basically a libertarian technology, so why should it be regulated?

Without getting too far ahead of myself, I think we agree that this can have a huge impact on the global economy.

So we need to think about what the new markets will look like in the coming years, what the appropriate organizational framework will be in this new economy and what kind of market structures need to be put in place to remain technologically competitive and relevant and to generate inclusive growth commensurate with society’s expectations.

Regulation, when used properly, is a powerful ally in addressing these issues.

When we think of crypto regulation in Europe, we think of the MiCA law (Markets in Crypto-Assets regulation), can you explain its role?

It is indeed the most well-known law by people following closely the regulation of cryptos and blockchain in the EU. The reason we talk about it so much is because it is a milestone for the EU and a model for other jurisdictions.

To put it very simply, MiCA is the first concrete set of rules to be applied horizontally with respect to cryptocurrencies. It deals with cryptoassets as well as stablecoins, issuers as well as market manipulation and much more.

The MiCA law sets the global standards for what a regulatory approach to the cryptocurrency market should look like, in order to create a competitive advantage for the EU’s internal market.

The law applies to all cryptocurrency companies seeking to operate in the EU, regardless of their location.

It provides a clear and transparent legal context as it explicitly addresses blockchain financial service providers that are, or must be, legally established entities to be quickly supervised, and provides a unified licensing regime, a “passport,” for the entire EU for Digital Asset Service Providers (DASPs).

This means that any company licensed in one member state will be allowed to offer services throughout Europe, avoiding the need to comply with 27 individual and different regimes.

It is important to note that the MiCA regulation does not address NFTs, and therefore does not apply to artists and the creative industry, sports or games, although it does provide some rules for fractional NFTs that are traded on marketplaces.

Equally important, the law includes a set of rules relating to market manipulation, which defines and prohibits specific forms of market abuse in the area of digital assets, including insider trading, sham trading and front running…

What do you think about the collapse of the UST of Luna? Do we need regulation on algorithmic stablecoins and stablecoins in general?

Because UST is an algorithmic stablecoin, it is considered a part of the DeFi ecosystem, which is not covered by MiCA. This was actually the preliminary criticism received by market participants when the MiCA regulation was introduced in September 2020.

Algorithmic stablecoins are often associated with a specific cryptocurrency and do not have independent assets in reserve to support their value, unlike traditional stablecoins, which do fall within the scope of MiCA. Moreover, DeFi, due to the decentralized nature of its applications, does not have clearly identified entities. Thus, in case of a problem, we can’t put the responsibility on a specific person.

The Luna case is a good example and individuals who have lost their assets have no recourse.

This lack of an “entity”, leads us to rethink our approach as to what would constitute the “entity” in DeFi because, regardless of the architecture, design, process and features of a product or service, everything should always end up with a “responsible person”.

In this respect, regulation will be much more difficult in DeFi and will therefore require much more time.

Why is the MENA region a powerful ally for Blockchain Adoption?

The MENA region encompasses the Middle East and North Africa. As such, it consists of a diverse mix of countries with complex and varied backgrounds, conflicts, and wealth disparities, but is very rich in resources, both natural and human.

By using blockchain, the region can address barriers to regional integration, can help leverage resources, and support regional inclusion, cohesion and development.

From a geopolitical perspective, we can currently see differences in the levels of blockchain development and adoption in the MENA region. Nevertheless, I believe this will change and the technology will be adopted by all MENA countries.

When one thinks Blockchain and MENA, one quickly thinks of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Indeed and understandably, the UAE and several wealthy Gulf states are the most advanced in blockchain technology, and are therefore responsible for innovation, investment in new startups, and progressive policies that enable the creation of communities around the technology.

However, blockchain use cases launched by these advanced states, such as the MenaPay payment system that uses blockchain, are benefiting and working at the regional level, helping to bridge these gaps and achieve a holistic and inclusive transformation of all MENA countries.

The UAE’s goal is clear: To become the blockchain and crypto capital of the world by 2025/2030. Do you think they’ll get there? What about the EU?

Excellent question and that is indeed their ambition. You should already know that when it comes to cryptocurrencies, the Middle East is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. This one represents more than 7% of global trading volumes and one country has particularly made its mark in this market: the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE has established itself in the MENA region as one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries and has enormous potential to become a regional hub for business innovation and of course Blockchain innovation.

The country launched its Emirates Blockchain 2021 strategy back in 2018, the goal of which was to move 50% of their transactions to a blockchain infrastructure by 2021 and become the first country to adopt blockchain beyond the financial sector. Moving beyond the financial sector, he demonstrated the impressive use case of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company piloting a blockchain-based system in collaboration with a private multinational to automatically track quantities and transactions among its operating companies.

In a similar vein, Dubai has been quick to implement its Blockchain strategy with the world’s first Blockchain court, the DubaiPay online payment portal, the Dubai Digital Silk Road project and, the Emirates recently launched its Metaverse strategy.

So, it’s possible they’re getting there.

For its part, the EU, which is a huge internal market, has also moved rapidly towards the adoption of blockchain in the financial sector and even beyond.

The resolution on blockchain that was passed with an unprecedented majority, also in 2018 and for which I was the rapporteur for the S&D group, aimed to create a basis of legal and institutional certainty to allow blockchain to flourish within the EU internal market, in order to facilitate the creation of blockchain marketplaces and thus make Europe the best place for blockchain businesses.

Indeed, it was this resolution that prompted the European Commission to draft and present the proposals for a DLT pilot regime and cryptoasset marketplaces in 2020, reflecting the principles of technology neutrality and business model neutrality, which are essential to facilitate the adoption of a strategically crucial digital technology.

In a more practical context, the EU is also testing blockchain pilots as part of the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP), an initiative to develop a European strategy on blockchain and build the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) for the public sector, and accelerate blockchain innovation and the development of the EU blockchain ecosystem through the European Blockchain Observatory and Forum, an initiative of the European Commission to consolidate Europe’s position as a global leader in this transformative new technology.

While recognizing that it is now more important than ever to consider the global geopolitical dimension and the effect of any potential regulatory regime on new technologies, I believe it is equally important to invest in global cooperation, coordination and convergence to achieve standardization and interoperability.

In this context, I think we should rather ensure that the new digital economy will work seamlessly across borders, avoiding fragmentation and promoting inclusion. This is what the European Parliament, and I myself, are aiming for through the Delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula (DARP).

During the May 2022 mission, I had the chance to meet with the UAE government’s Minister of State for Development and the Future, His Excellency Ohood Khalfan Al Roumi, and we discussed blockchain, digital assets, Web3, and the metaverse.

Dubai’s recently launched Metaverse strategy, which supports the development of Web3 technology in government, tourism, education, retail, remote work, healthcare, and the legal sector, while focusing on extended reality, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and digital twins, is an excellent demonstration of the UAE’s commitment to thriving as a technology hub and economy with respect to the Metaverse.