We Cannot Authorize Development of Libra on European Soil: French Finance Minister

Bruno Le Maire

France’s finance minister, one of the earliest critics of Facebook’s Libra, fired another warning shot at the cryptocurrency today.

“All these concerns around Libra are serious. So I want to say this with a lot of clarity: In these conditions, we cannot authorize the development of Libra on European soil,” France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at the OECD conference in Paris. The concerns he was referring to are about its impact on government-issued money, criminal activities, and economies of the region. Specifically, he said Libra could put “sovereignty” of governments at risk.

Le Maire had previously said Libra risked becoming a “sovereign currency” and called on the G-7 group to examine it. During his speech, he said he had spoken with ECB President Mario Draghi and his successor Christine Lagarde to discuss the creation of a new “public digital currency”.

It is unclear what Le Maire is referring to, as far as authorizing “development” of Libra is concerned. The scope of Facebook’s proposed project spans multiple countries across the world. The Libra Association, its governing body, is headquartered in Switzerland, a country that is not part of the EU. Based on available accounts, development work for the cryptocurrency is being carried out in the U.S.

There is the possibility that the EU region could ban Libra, thereby hampering its adoption by local merchants and consumers. Japan has already banned privacy coins or coins which do not disclose user identity while conducting user transactions. Reports in March indicated that French regulators has suggested a ban on privacy coins.  

Facebook has already applied for a payment system license in Switzerland. Le Maire’s remarks are another stumbling block for the cryptocurrency, which has come under widespread criticism from regulators and international agencies since its June launch. In his remarks before U.S. lawmakers, Libra chief David Marcus said the project would not move ahead without permission from local regulators.