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Published on December 23rd, 2016 | by Elpida Tsiaka

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Security Union: Commission steps up the fight against terrorist financing

On December 21st, 2016, the European Commission adopted a package of measures to strengthen the EU’s capacity to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime, delivering on the commitments made in the Action Plan against terrorist financing from February 2016. The proposals will complete and reinforce the EU’s legal framework in the areas of money laundering, illicit cash flows and the freezing and confiscation of assets. Presented alongside the third Progress Report on the Security Union, these proposals will ensure a strong and coordinated European response in the fight against terrorism financing and organised crime, bringing the EU one step closer towards an effective and genuine Security Union. The proposals aim to make it harder for terrorists and criminals to finance their activities whilst making it easier for the authorities to detect and stop their financial movements. They consist of three new legislations. First, a Directive to criminalise money laundering will set common minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering which will make it easier and more effective for judicial and law enforcement authorities to pursue complex money laundering cases. Secondly, the current rules on cash entering and leaving the EU will be updated to make them more robust and to give customs authorities more scope to act when there are indications that cash is related to criminal activity. Finally, the Regulation on the mutual recognition of criminal asset freezing and confiscation orders making it possible to prevent criminals and terrorists from using their funds.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans stated: “With today’s proposals we strengthen our legal means to disrupt and cut off financial sourcesof criminals and terrorists. We must ensure we have the right tools in place to detect and stop suspicious financial flows and to support better cooperation between law enforcement authorities so that we can better protect the security of European citizens.”

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Terrorism remains a major threat to our safety. We must stay a step ahead to stop terrorists in their tracks and the fight against terrorism financing is part of it. That’s why today we are proposing that money laundering be subject to effective criminal sanctions right across the EU. We are proposing cross-border freezing and confiscation of criminal assets within the EU, and putting an end to criminals circumventing cash controls at the EU’s external borders.”

Security is one of the priorities of the Juncker Commission. After adopting the European Agenda on Security in 2015, , the Commission identified the cutting of terrorists’ access to funds as one of the priority actions to be taken to complete an efficient and sustainable EU Security Union in April 2016.

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