The European Union (EU) and its member states have agreed on a digital ID framework, with integration of digital currencies expected to garner further deliberations.
EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton says digital currency integration should follow — renewing a May 2022 commitment to roll out a digital euro by 2026.
At the time, the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) had been promoted by members of the European Central Bank (ECB), including executive board member Fabio Panetta, who called digital currencies a "sound, reliable means of payment designed in the public interest."
Panetta assured its rollout would not mean the end of cash, which is currently only used in 20% of transactions. "We will ensure that cash remains available," he said.
On November 8, the EU positioned its provisional agreement on digital ID as being a safe and trusted option that "protects democratic rights and values," reported the Western Standard.
"With the European Digital Identity wallet, all [European] citizens will be able to have a secured e-identity for their lifetime," wrote Breton in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on November 8.
"This wallet has the highest level of both security and privacy," he claimed, suggesting a digital currency should be on the table next.
In November 2021, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a compendium document on digital currencies, indicating that central bankers hoped to adopt a central bank digital currency, including China.
"Linked to China’s social credit system, it could see citizens fined in a split second for behaviors deemed undesirable. Dissidents and activists could see their wallets emptied or taken offline," wrote Time magazine.
In August, 300 scientists and security experts urged the EU to "rethink" its digital ID scheme, claiming "its current form, will not result in adequate technological safeguards for citizens and businesses, as intended."
"As for social control, some fear a digital currency would be able to punish or reward specific behaviour," said University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe. "But this too is not new!"
"We tax some choices and subsidize others all the time, for better or worse," he added.
In a 2010 speech, People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier expressed concerns with a digital currency, citing digital transactions leave a trail.
"A digital currency will allow the Bank of Canada — a government organization — to know the details of all our transactions," he said. "Whether or not the central bank is serious about protecting our privacy, management, and the Government of Canada will have all this centralized information at their disposal if they want to use it."
However, University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe contends Canada has "strong legal frameworks and institutions to protect against that [privacy concerns]." In a May 18 blog to The Hub, he wrote: "If one has concerns about the state of privacy laws in Canada, then make that case directly."
Regardless, Bernier contends a digital currency "will be the strongest tool in the government's toolkit to control the population."
"It would be extremely naive to believe that they will never use it," he said.
"Can we trust them after Freeland froze bank accounts during the Freedom Convoy?" Bernier posted to his X feed. "No!"
In the aftermath of the 2022 Freedom Convoy, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke openly about freezing bank accounts of convoy supporters and participants could not access their funds.
By official estimate, Canada’s federal government seized $7.8 million in assets from 267 bank and credit union accounts and 170 bitcoin wallets belonging to suspected convoy supporters and participants.
Bernier lauds the Bank of Canada could manipulate how Canadians spend their money, including on goods "responsible for carbon emissions that the government doesn't like."
CBDCs can have built-in controls so they can discriminate based on age, sex, wealth, race, or whatever other categories the government wants, said The National Telegraph. "[…] every CBDC transaction can be tracked and recorded," added the publication.