Countering the financing of terrorism is a core component of EU’s strategy in the fight against terrorism. As terrorists and their supporters constantly modify their ways to collect, move and gain access to funds, the EU needs to adapt its instruments and measures to deny them resources.
The European Commission adopted in July 2021 a new Anti-money laundering package, proposing to establish a single rulebook directly applicable to private entities and an Anti-Money Laundering Agency that will strengthen EU-level supervision and support the work of Financial Intelligence Units. The Commission also proposed legislation to facilitate law enforcement access to interconnected bank registers in full compliance with fundamental rights on privacy and data protection.
The agenda sets out specific measures to support financial investigators, proposing the establishment of a network of counter-terrorism financial investigators.
The action plan aims at detecting and preventing the movement of funds and other assets, helping law enforcement trace financial movements and disrupting the sources of revenue.
The agenda underlines the need for measures to address terrorist financing in a more effective and comprehensive manner. It highlights the links with organised crime, feeding terrorism through channels like the supply of weapons, proceeds from drug smuggling, and the infiltration of financial markets.
Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) play a key role in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. They are usually placed within law enforcement agencies or administrative bodies reporting to Ministries of Finance in EU Member States.
FIUs are independent and autonomous units responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating information to competent authorities on potential money laundering or terrorist financing activities.
Several entities and persons fall under counter financing of terrorism reporting requirements, such as banks, financial institutions, notaries or casinos. They must file a suspicious transaction report without delay to their national FIU when they know or suspect that terrorist financing is being or has been committed or attempted. The reports are then transmitted to competent authorities, including law enforcement agencies and foreign FIUs. On the basis of these reports, criminal investigations might be launched.
The Commission facilitates cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) through the EU Financial Intelligence Units’ Platform, an informal expert group that provides advice and expertise, and supports FIU.net, the decentralised computer network enabling the exchange of information and cooperation between the FIUs.
The Commission is a member of the international standard setting body for combatting the financing of terrorism, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and actively contributes to its work as well as to the implementation of the FATF Recommendations in the EU.
The Commission is also an observer in the Council of the:
The EU signed an agreement with the US allowing for the transfer of financial messaging data from the EU to the US for the purpose of the Terrorist Finance Tracking programme (TFTP). The agreement took effect on 1 August 2020.
The US Treasury Department set up TFTP shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Since then, the TFTP has generated significant intelligence that has been beneficial for both the US and the EU in the fight against terrorism.
Link to the EU-US TFTP Agreement
The agreement between the EU and the US includes appropriate safeguards to accommodate legitimate concerns about security, privacy and respect of fundamental rights.
More specifically, the agreement:
Under the agreement, Europol assesses whether the request for data is necessary for the fight against terrorism and its financing. Europol also verifies that each request is tailored as narrowly as possible to minimise the amount of data requested. If a request for data does not meet these conditions, no data can be transferred.
All searches performed on the provided data are monitored by independent overseers, including persons appointed by the Commission. In accordance with the provisions of the agreement, they have the possibility
The EU maintains a list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts and subject to restrictive measures involving the freezing of funds and other financial assets, as well as enhanced measures related to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
The EU also imposes certain specific restrictive measures directed against a list of persons and entities associated with ISIL (Da'esh) and Al Qaeda organisations. The Council Regulation (EC) 881/2002 on imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Al-Qaida network and the Taliban is amended several times per year on the basis of decisions taken by the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations Security Council.
In addition, Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1693 concerning restrictive measures against ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaeda and persons, groups, undertakings and entities associated with them allows for the freezing of funds of persons and entities associated with these organisations, participating in activities such as financing, training, recruiting, or inciting to commit terrorist acts, and/or travelling outside or into the EU to participate in these activities.
Link to EU terrorist list