France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, has stated that blockchain technology is a priority for his country’s government. Le Maire made his remarks during an interview with French economics and business magazine Capital on April 15, ahead of the Paris Blockchain Week Summit from April 16-17.
As proof of France’s commitment to the nascent sector, Le Maire revealed that the state plans to invest 4.5 billion euros ($5 million) in breakthrough innovations — including blockchain — in a bid to fight Chinese and American technological dominance.
Aside from funding, he underscored the blockchain regulatory progress heralded by the PACTE Act, which was passed by the French National Assembly earlier this week.
In the interview, Le Maire characterized the bill as “an unprecedented and attractive legal framework for token issuers and digital asset service providers.”
Looking ahead to the agenda for the rest of 2019, Le Maire said the government had identified new areas of focus for its blockchain policy. These reportedly include the implementation of blockchain in French industrial sectors, funding innovative blockchain projects and supporting these projects in regard to legal and regulatory issues.
The minister proposed that France’s crypto taxation system offers a robust and transparent accounting framework specific to the new sector. As reported in December 2018, lawmakers have nonetheless rejected amendments to France’s 2019 Finance Bill that would ease the taxation burden on crypto users.
Le Maire also cast the decline in the initial coin offerings market in a positive light, stating that it was necessary for the health of the sector and that the downturn “does not detract from the potential and benefits offered by the new funding method.”
In a separate comment on the prospective of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to disintermediate the financial system, Le Maire voiced his belief that “such a project is not mature in the short term,” and that many legal and technical issues remain unresolved in regard to publicly accessible, wholesale CBDCs.
He also stressed the need for blockchain protocols to evolve more energy-efficient mechanisms, and to protect the financial system from crypto-facilitated money laundering risks.
As previously reported, recent crypto regulatory debates in France have seen the head of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee argue in favor of a ban on anonymity-oriented cryptocurrencies like monero (XMR) and zcash (ZEC).