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Digital Euro Conspiracy Theories and Privacy Concerns Put EU Central Bankers in the Hot Seat

Digital Euro Conspiracy Theories and Privacy Concerns Put EU Central Bankers in the Hot Seat

Proponents of a digital euro are facing political opposition to their plans for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) – and technocratic central bankers aren’t sure how to respond.

In the European Union (EU), officials have advanced multiple arguments in favor of issuing a digital euro – assuring that it will be usable across the bloc, offer privacy unmatched by other kinds of digital payment, and safeguard Europe’s independence from foreign payment providers.

But now, the EU’s central banks, normally used to deploying technical or economic arguments, are facing a different kind of opposition that’s much more political. That opposition can start with legitimate concerns over privacy and the limits of government power – but can also venture into conspiracy theories that paint CBDCs as part of a much wider, orchestrated program of state control.

Anti-CBDC politics is seen across the Atlantic. U.S. presidential hopefuls Robert F. Kennedy Junior and Ron DeSantis have both painted state-backed digital currencies as a tool of surveillance and social control. EU lawmakers such as the Netherlands’ Marcel de Graaff have also suggested a digital euro could allow the government to limit purchases, coerce citizens or introduce a social credit system.

Responding to such sweeping attacks makes defending the CBDC that much harder, and central bankers are now figuring out how to respond.

For some of those opposed to the idea, “the creation of a digital currency in euro area or any other part of the world is becoming part of this huge plot – together with wokeism, together with the green agenda, and so on, to control the world and the lives of citizens,” Belgian Central Bank Governor Pierre Wunsch told attendees at an event on Thursday.

“It’s quite clear that it’s not only a purely rational debate,” he added. “We need to make sure that our people understand that it’s not about control of their lives – which should be obvious, but apparently some people don’t see it as obvious.”

For his Austrian counterpart, Robert Holzmann, the problem is the lack of positive narrative for the CBDC.

“What is still missing is a convincing storyline for the digital euro, something which we can put in front of people,” said Holzmann said Thursday, adding that proponents of the CBDC needed…

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