Commission welcomes ECB Governing Council decision to launch the next phase of the digital euro project

The Commission welcomes the decision reached yesterday by the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) to conclude the investigation phase of the digital euro project and to move to the preparation phase.

The ECB has concluded the investigation it launched in July 2021 to address key issues relating to the design and distribution of a digital euro. The preparation phase will now involve the ECB deepening its analysis of the potential design options, user experience and technical solutions for a digital euro, so as to prepare for its possible development and issuance. The preparation phase will start on 1 November 2023 and is expected to last for two years. Based on the outcome of this work and analysis, the ECB Governing Council may decide to move towards the piloting of a possible digital euro, which would precede the proper issuance.

The ECB’s work on the preparation phase will also inform the legislative discussions on the Commission’s proposal to establish the legal framework for a digital euro, presented in June 2023. The aim of the legislation is to ensure that any future digital euro would give people and businesses an additional choice to pay digitally using a widely accepted, affordable, secure and resilient form of public money anywhere in the euro area. A digital euro, if issued, would be a complement to cash, which must remain available and useable. That is why the Commission also presented a legislative proposal on the legal tender of euro banknotes and coins in its Single Currency Package.

Negotiations on the Regulation establishing the digital euro are ongoing between the European Parliament and the Council. Once the framework legislation for a digital euro is adopted by the EU co-legislators, the final decision to issue the digital euro falls within the sole competence of the ECB, acting in full independence, in accordance with the Treaties.