The European Commission (Commission) has adopted a package of legislative measures that are intended to strengthen the EU’s capacity to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime, delivering on the commitments made in the February 2016 Action Plan against terrorist financing.

The legislative package consists of a proposed new:

  • Directive that aims to tackle money laundering by means of criminal law. It proposes to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering, as well as common provisions to improve the investigation of those offences and to ensure better cooperation in the fight against money laundering. In addition, the proposed Directive is intended to improve cross-border cooperation and the exchange of information between Member State competent authorities. All Member States have criminalised money laundering but there are differences between Member States both on the definition of money laundering and on the sanctions applied to such a crime. These differences create obstacles which the draft Directive seeks to remove. A memo that accompanies the legislative proposal states that the draft Directive applies to all EU Member States except for Denmark, which is not taking part in the Directive’s adoption. The memo also states that the United Kingdom and Ireland “can decide to take part in the adoption and application of this Directive”;
  • Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. The proposed Regulation is intended to improve co-operation between Member State competent authorities to ensure that they can swiftly and efficiently freeze and confiscate assets across the EU. The draft Regulation is designed so that whenever a competent authority in one Member State decides to freeze or confiscate property in another Member State, it can request the other Member State to do so by filing in a standard form for freezing order or a standard certificate for the confiscation order. The competent authority in the other Member State must recognise the request and execute the freezing or confiscation order within short time limits. It can only refuse to recognise and execute such orders on the basis of a limited number of reasons, set out in the draft Regulation; and
  • Regulation on cash controls. The draft Regulation will: (1) tighten cash controls on cash and precious commodities valued at €10,000 or more which are sent through postal parcels or in freight consignments; (2) extend the definition of ‘cash’ to gold and other high-value commodities, as well as prepaid payment cards which are not linked to a financial account; (3) create a simplified and more robust mechanism for the exchange of information between Member State customs authorities and Member State financial intelligence units; and (4) enable Member State competent authorities to act on amounts lower than €10,000 of cash entering or leaving the EU when there are indications that the cash is related to criminal activity.

The legislative proposals will be sent to the Council of the EU and the European Parliament and will follow the ordinary legislative procedure.

View Commission adopts stronger rules to fight terrorism financing, 22 December 2016