EU strategy against terrorism funds

Terrorists have huge amount of sources at their disposal and EU Commission is trying to tackle this issue with a strategic plan to fight against the financing of terrorists. Terrorists collect finances for their terrorist acts from licit or illicit activities, money laundering or commerce of arms.  Arms that have been produced by at least twenty-five countries, USA, Russia, China and some EU member state according to Amnesty International report.

REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

EU fight against the financing of terrorists

The Eu plan will focus on two key points: 1)Tracing terrorists through financial movements and preventing them from moving funds or other assets 2) Disrupting the sources of revenue used by terrorist organisations, by targeting their capacity to raise funds.

"We have to cut off the resources that terrorists use to carry out their heinous crimes. By detecting and disrupting the financing of terrorist networks, we can reduce their ability to travel, to buy weapons and explosives, to plot attacks and to spread hate and fear online" EU Commission Vicepresident Frans Timmermans said presenting the EU plan against the financing of terrorists. 

Europe needs to cope with the new financial tools that represent new vulnerabilities and more challenges in tracking terrroirst financial activities and identifying their networks. Security measures and fight against terrorism may have an impact on citizens lives,  on data protection , on economic activities and economic freedoms, but the EU affirms to keep a balance with the need to protect fundamental rights.

In the direction of fighting against the financing of terrorists, the EU approved the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering which has the aim to combat the laundering of money from criminal activities and to counter the financing of terrorist activities. The hope is that member states will commit to do this by the end of 2016, as the EU Commission requires. While in December the Commission proposed a directive which criminalises terrorist financing and the funding of recruitment, training and travel for terrorism purposes.

The EU new actions against financing terrorists

By 2016 the Commission will present proposals to amend the fouth Anti-money laundering package. One of the measures introduced will introduce an obligatory list of compulsory checks that financial institutions should carry out on financial flows from countries having strategic deficiencies in their national anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes. Applying the same regulations in all European states will avoid to have loopholes in EU where terrorists could run easily their operations.

EU Financial Intelligence Units powers will be strengthen and their cooperation will be facilitated. Furthermore part of the proposal is the creation of centralised national bank and payment account registers  or central data retrieval systems in all member states. The anti laundering Directive will have to include, according to the proposal by EU Commission,  also virtual currency exchange platforms to apply customer due diligence controls when exchanging virtual for real currencies, ending the anonymity associated with such exchanges. Regarding the pre-paid cards the Commission proposes to lower thresholds for identification and widening customer verification requirements.

While regarding the freezing of terrorists assets, the EU Commission will try to improve the efficiency of UN’s asset freezing measures. There is a clear strategy in the new EU plan: criminalising money laundering. On cash payments the following measure will take place: the Commission will extend the scope of the existing regulation to include cash shipped by freight or post and to allow authorities to act upon lower amounts of cash. The Commission is also thinking of the need of a complementary EU system for tracking terrorist financing, for example to cover intra-EU payments which are not captured by the EU-US Terrorism Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP).

Cultural goods and illecite wildlife trade as source of financing terrorists

Cultural goods and illecite wildlife trade coming from occupied areas  are currently the main financial source for terrorism. In 2017 the Commission will propose a legislative proposal to reinforce the powers of customs authorities to address terrorism financing through trade in goods, by tackling illegal gains through dissimulation of trade transactions, misrepresentation of the value of goods and fictitious invoicing.

That’s why the Commission will focus on fighting the illecit trade of cultural goods.

The Commision presented urgent proposals to fight financincing terrorrism, now the hope is that  concrete actions  especially from member states will rapidly take place in the coming months

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