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‘Prohibitive’ Capital Rules for Banks Holding Crypto Win Support in EU Parliament

‘Prohibitive’ Capital Rules for Banks Holding Crypto Win Support in EU Parliament

Lawmakers in the European Union have backed legislation imposing new capital requirements for financial institutions, including strict rules meant to cover crypto-related risks. The latter concern banks keeping digital assets and are expected to enter into force in January, 2025.

EU Legislators Approve Draft Law Implementing the Basel III Capital Regulations for Banks

Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) supported a bill on Tuesday designed to enforce the latest global bank capital rules. Reuters noted in a report that the lawmakers have also incorporated specific requirements addressing risks that stem from crypto assets.

The general rules are part of the Basel III reforms, a set of internationally agreed measures developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Their main purpose is to strengthen the supervision and risk management of banks.

Other jurisdictions, including the U.S. and U.K., are also moving in a similar direction. However, ECON is introducing additional regulations with the European draft law, obliging banking institutions to hold enough capital to fully cover crypto asset holdings.

“Banks will be required to hold a euro of their own capital for every euro they hold in crypto,” explained Markus Ferber, a center-right member of the committee from Germany. He elaborated:

Such prohibitive capital requirements will help prevent instability in the crypto world from spilling over into the financial system.

ECON Takes Harder Line Than EU Member States

The changes, which are in line with the recommendations of global banking regulators, represent an interim measure pending further legislation. An earlier version of the bill was already approved by the member states and the European Parliament will have to negotiate the final draft with them.

The EU states have adopted a more accommodative approach to when foreign banks providing services to European customers should open a branch or transform one into a more capitalized subsidiary. The ECON members took a harder line, the report remarks.

Fine-tuning is to be expected. For example, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) pointed out that the draft lacks a definition of crypto assets. The industry organization believes it could be applied to tokenized securities eventually.

The AFME also says that the EU should avoid a potential adverse impact of tightening access to international markets and cross-border services while it seeks to consolidate its autonomy in capital markets in the face of competition from the U.K., following Brexit.

Last summer, EU institutions and member states reached agreement on Europe’s new Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) legislation. The package is expected to enter into force in 2023 but businesses will have another 12 to 18 months to comply with it.

Do you think the European Parliament will adopt the stricter capital requirements for banks holding crypto assets? Share your expectations in the comments section below.

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