Countering the financing of terrorism is a core component of the 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 deprive them from the possibility to engage in criminal activity.
The European Agenda on Security 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.
In 2016, the Commission adopted an 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.
The Commission has in recent years strengthened the legal framework:
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.
At a global level, the Commission is a member of the 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 Europe’s Moneyval and the Egmont Group.
More on the EU anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regime can be found on the webpage Anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing.
The Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) has generated significant intelligence that has helped detect terrorist plots and trace their authors. An EU-US Agreement on the exchange of financial information ensures protection of EU citizens' privacy and gives the U.S. and EU law enforcement authorities a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism.
The TFTP was set up by the U.S. Treasury Department shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Since then, the TFTP has generated significant intelligence that has been beneficial for both the U.S. and EU States in the fight against terrorism. The Report on the value of TFTP Provided Data published on 27 November 2013 demonstrates the important benefits of the TFTP for international counter-terrorism efforts.
The EU-US TFTP Agreement , which took effect on 1 August 2010, is a substantial improvement compared to the interim Agreement. The text introduces the appropriate safeguards to accommodate legitimate concerns about security, privacy and respect of fundamental rights.
The Agreement safeguards data protection rights relating to transparency, rights of access, rectification and erasure of inaccurate data. It guarantees non-discriminatory rights of administrative redress and ensures that any person whose data are processed under the Agreement will have the right to seek in the U.S. judicial redress for any adverse administrative action. The Agreement further acknowledges the principle of proportionality as a guiding principle for its application.
Under the Agreement, a European public authority - Europol - assesses whether the data requested in any given case are 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 under the Agreement.
All the searches performed on the provided data are monitored by independent overseers including persons appointed by the European Commission. In accordance with the provisions of the Agreement, they have the possibility to review in real time and retroactively all searches made of the provided data, to request additional information to justify the terrorism nexus of these searches, and the authority to block any or all searches that appear to be in breach of the safeguards laid down in Article 5 of the Agreement.
The Agreement also empowers the EU to undertake a significant review of all its aspects. A first such review took place in February 2011, followed by a Commission report [296 KB] in March. It was followed by reports published in December 2012 , in August 2014, in January 2017 and most recently in July 2019.
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. More details on the restrictive measures applied, the criteria for listing, and the procedure for listing and delisting, can be found on the Council of the European Union’s webpage EU terrorist list.
Since 2002, and more recently in order to implement UN Security Council resolution 1989 (2011), the EU also imposes certain specific restrictive measures directed against a list of persons and entities associated with the ISIL (Da'esh) and Al Qaeda organisations. Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 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 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.