On 5 December 2019, the Council of the EU published an outcome of proceedings document setting out the conclusions on strategic priorities on anti-money laundering (AML) and countering terrorist financing (CTF). These conclusions were adopted by the Council in its configuration as the Economic and Financial Affairs Council at its 3736th meeting held on 5 December 2019 in Brussels.

The Council highlights that the fight against AML and terrorist financing remains a high priority for the EU, and recognises the significance of recent changes to the legal framework. However, it notes that more work is needed to understand those areas within the current legal framework that could be further harmonised across the EU.

The Council encourages all Member States to swiftly complete the transposition of all relevant EU legislation in this area and to strengthen the effective implementation and application of it as soon as possible. Furthermore, it urges the European Commission (Commission) to take a number of steps, which include:

  • to assess thoroughly, and as a priority, any possible restrictions which stem from existing legislation, or lack thereof, in relation to efficient information exchange and cooperation among all relevant competent authorities involved in the implementation and supervision of the EU’s AML and CTF framework. In addition, it invites the Commission to present, if appropriate, legislative proposals to address its findings;
  • to further explore actions to enhance the EU’s AML and CTF framework, including by considering if certain aspects could be better addressed through a regulation, or exploring the opportunities and challenges in using technological innovation to combat AML and CTF. The Commission should prioritise the financial sector, but consider further enhancements to the framework of other sectors at the same time; and
  • to consider various ways to ensure high quality and consistent AML supervision throughout the EU, while paying particular attention to the robustness and efficiency of enforcement practices, also when cross-border aspects and cooperation among authorities are involved. In particular, the Commission is invited to explore the possibilities, advantages and disadvantages of conferring certain responsibilities and powers for AML supervision to an EU body with an independent structure and direct powers in relation to certain regulated entities. The Commission is invited to present its legislative proposals.

The Council has asked the Commission to work on the actions set out in the conclusions, in close consultation with Member States, and to report every six months, beginning in June 2020.