There is a flurry of new EU initiatives to regulate the metaverse. Last week, the European Commission launched a public consultation (open until May 3, 2023) to “develop a vision for emerging virtual worlds (e.g. metaverses), based on respect for digital rights and EU laws and values” such that “open, interoperable and innovative virtual worlds … can be used safely and with confidence by the public and businesses.” This initiative follows closely on another EU public consultation on allocating costs of expanding network infrastructure (open until May 19, 2023). As explained by the EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, the increased data required by new technologies such as the metaverse necessitate transforming the underlying digital infrastructure. Separately, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen launched last September a non-legislative initiative on the metaverse. Similarly, the European Parliament is also working on its own-initiative report on opportunities, risk and policy implications for the metaverse.
As EU officials grapple with potential regulatory constraints as well as policy building blocks for the metaverse, they will need to address issues common across the globe: how to take advantage of the technological inflection point offered by the metaverse, while ensuring competition, privacy, and cybersecurity, among the many legal topics raised by the metaverse.
This rapidly increasing regulatory attention is unsurprising as the metaverse is estimated to generate up to $5 trillion in global market impact by 2030 and already in 2022, investments into the metaverse doubled compared to the previous year, reaching over $120 billion. As a multifaceted and complex digital ecosystem, the metaverse provides a wide array of investment opportunities as, in principle, nearly anything done physically could be done meta.