Migration and Home Affairs

Fight against the financing of terrorism

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.

Background

2021: New proposals on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism

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.

2020: Counter-Terrorism Agenda

The agenda sets out specific measures to support financial investigators, proposing the establishment of a network of counter-terrorism financial investigators. 

2016: Action plan on strengthening the fight against terrorist financing

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.

2015: European Agenda on Security

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.

Policy timeline

  • 20 June 2019: Directive facilitating the use of financial and other information for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of certain criminal offences

    Rules to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement authorities to fight terrorism by improving their access to financial information.
  • 17 April 2019: Regulation on the introduction and the import of cultural goods

    A new Regulation introducing conditions and procedures for the import of cultural goods into the customs territory of the EU aims to detect and prevent illicit trade.
  • 14 November 2018: Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders

    The EU countries mutually recognise the freezing and confiscation orders.
  • 23 October 2018: Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the EU

    The regulation introduces controls on cash entering or leaving the EU, with reinforced safeguards against illicit cash movements.
  • 19 June 2018: Amendments to the 4th anti-money laundering Directive

    Sets out a series of measures to better counter the financing of terrorism and to ensure increased transparency of financial transactions.
  • 15 March 2017: Directive on Combatting Terrorism 

    Provides for a comprehensive definition of the terrorism financing offence.
  • 20 May 2015: Anti-Money Laundering Directive

    The EU has developed a comprehensive range of measures to combat terrorist financing, including an Anti-Money Laundering Directive and.

Cooperation to counter terrorist financing

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.

Reports on suspicious transactions

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.

EU Financial Intelligence Unit’s Platform

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.

Cooperation on global level

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:

  • Moneyval - Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism
  • Egmont Group, a united body of 166 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs)

EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) Agreement

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

Agreement safeguards and respect of fundamental rights

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:

  • safeguards data protection rights relating to transparency, rights regarding access, rectification and deletion of inaccurate data
  • guarantees non-discriminatory rights of administrative redress and ensures that any person, whose data are processed under the agreement, has the right to seek redress in front of US judiciary for any adverse administrative action
  • acknowledges the principle of proportionality as a guiding principle for its application

Data monitoring

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

  • to review, in real time and retroactively all searches performed on the provided data
  • to request additional information for justifying the link  of these searches to terrorism and the authority to block any or all searches that appear to be in breach of the safeguards laid down in  the agreement.

Reports

EU terrorist lists and asset freezes

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

Related documents

Related links