At the end of January 2022, member of the Belgian parliament Christophe De Beukelaer became the first European politician to convert his salary to Bitcoin (BTC). Celebrating the anniversary of this experiment, Cointelegraph reached out to a lawmaker to know more about his experience.
Back in 2022, Beukelaer, who represents Humanist Democratic Centre (CDH) party, cited the example of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and how American politicians are working to make their native states or cities Bitcoin hubs to justify his decision. The Brussels MP’s monthly salary of EUR 5,500 ($6,140) was to be converted to Bitcoin using the Bit4You crypto trading platform.
Related: Belgium says BTC, ETH and other decentralized coins are not securities
“I did this political act of paying in Bitcoin to defend political ideas,” shares Beukelaer, citing four ones: defending financial freedom and economic opportunity and combating financial illiteracy and growth model. The last one is perhaps the most interesting, as the lawmaker, who’s calling himself a “pragmatic environmentalist,” sees a clear link between Bitcoin and the environmental clause:“What does the central bank do when it prints money as it has done in recent years? It gives the illusion of infinite resources and thus encourages all economic actors to produce and consume more and more.”
Beukelaer considers his experiment successful in both putting Belgium on the global crypto map and encouraging local officials to educate themselves on digital assets:“A lot of politicians said to themselves: ‘De Beukelaer is not an anarchist. If he is interested in Bitcoin, there must be something interesting behind it.’”
Was it comfortable in practical terms? The positive answer is hardly imaginable, given the BTC’s decline from almost $38,000 in Jan.2022 to $17,246 by press time in Jan.2023, but the MP didn’t regard his experiment as an economic strategy from the very beginning:“It was a political act and not a financial gesture. Like those who grow mustaches in November to fight prostate cancer. I put this salary in Bitcoin on a cold wallet every month and I haven’t touched it. My goal was not to live in crypto.”
While the first major step to Pan-European regulation is undertaken, Beukelaer highlights the reservations of the Markets in Crypto-assets legislation (MiCA): the excessive constraints imposed on the personal holding of crypto or the way stablecoins are considered.
Europe is heading towards hard times, a politician believes, citing the crises in energy supply and climate, and the rise of authoritarian leaders. It is in that regard how Western countries will gradually understand the usefulness of crypto.