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German politician trying hard to sell parliament on BTC

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As the European Union moves forward with its digital euro project, one European politician is not only railing against the planned central bank digital currency (CBDC), but she’s seriously advocating for BTC as an alternative.

Joana Cotar is a member of the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament. Last week, CoinTelegraph published an interview with Cotar in which she discussed the digital euro project and, in particular, why BTC would be a better fit for the Union.

A self-described “staunch opponent of the digital euro,” Cotar is worried that an EU CBDC would give away too much power to regulators over privacy and individual spending:

“The digital euro would also mean that each and every one of us could be totally monitored. As a convinced libertarian, I emphatically reject this. Anyone who is against surveillance and for freedom does not need a digital euro!”

“I don’t want the authorities to be able to spy on our private life and misuse this data,” she went on to say.

Fortunately for Europe, Cotar has just the solution: BTC. If Cotar had her way, according to the interview, BTC would be made legal tender in Germany, and says she wants to begin a preliminary examination for a legal framework that would do just that. Currently, under German law, BTC is treated as a financial instrument and therefore attaches similar regulatory obligations to traditional securities and investments, which would not apply to legal tender.

Presumably, with one eye fixed firmly on that goal, Cotar has already established the ‘Bitcoin in the Bundestag’ initiative, which is supposed to educate her fellow parliamentarians about the benefits of BTC in order to help them make better-informed legislative decisions. Cotar is open that she is only interested in BTC as opposed to digital assets in general, and part of the Bundestag initiative is intended to emphasize that BTC isn’t like all of those other digital assets.

“Establishing a formal Bundestag committee that recognizes the technological differences between [BTC] and other crypto assets and mainly deals with the importance of [BTC] for our society is very important for us,” she said.

If that doesn’t make Cotar sound like every other BTC advocate with an NFT on their X profile, have a look at Cotar’s latest appearance in the Bundestag:

Cotar doesn’t spell out how any of the aims of the digital euro could be achieved with a system that, as of the time of writing, costs an average of $18.69 to make a single transaction. Given the digital euro’s ambition as a cheap and easy-to-access alternative to cash, it’s tough to see how BTC would benefit the average EU citizen.

Cotar’s interview did have what was probably the desired effect, however: BTC spiked 5% in the last 24 hours after the interview was published, though it is already well into the process of giving those gains back.

Aside from that, Cotar’s comments demonstrate that the European Central Bank (ECB), which is spearheading the digital euro’s preliminary phases, more than has its work cut out for it as it grapples with messaging the digital euro project. In an online discussion with the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions forum held at the end of October, ECB Director General of Market Infrastructures and Payments Ulrich Bindseil canvassed the aims and objectives of the digital euro project. Notably, he paid particular attention to privacy concerns that some have over implementing a digital euro.

“In the payment process, we are working on maximising privacy,” he said.

“Of course, privacy may have its limits in the view of the legislators who maintain similar or partially similar treatments in analogous terms as other private electronic means of payment. And, of course, also the safety and resilience of the process must be guaranteed. We want to maximise privacy: we foresee the possibility of conditional payments. Money should never become conditional.”

He later said: “We want to make very clear that’s not the case: not about the digital controls, and one unit of money will always be a unit of money.”

It’s unlikely that Bindseil’s comments will affect BTC evangelists like Cotar, but whether they will be able to allay the broader concerns shared by many about the impact of CBDCs on privacy remains to be seen.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

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