European Commission strengthens AML commitment

The European Commission has unveiled a comprehensive approach to further heighten the EU’s fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Seeking to shut down any remaining loopholes and remove any weak links in the EU’s rules, the Commission has published an ambitious and multifaceted Action Plan. 

The Commission outlined a series of concrete measures that it will take over the next 12 months to better enforce, supervise and coordinate the EU’s rules on combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “We need to put an end to dirty money infiltrating our financial system. Today we are further bolstering our defences to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, with a comprehensive and far-reaching Action Plan. There should be no weak links in our rules and their implementation. 

“We are committed to delivering on all these actions – swiftly and consistently – over the next 12 months. We are also strengthening the EU’s global role in terms of shaping international standards on fighting money laundering and terrorism financing.”

The Commission has also published a more transparent, refined methodology to identify high-risk third countries that have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes that pose significant threats to the EU’s financial system. This will enhance its engagement with third countries and ensure greater cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Finally, it has also adopted a new list of third countries with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks.

Action Plan for a Comprehensive EU policy on Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.

The Action Plan is built on six pillars, each of which is aimed at improving the EU’s overall fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as strengthening the EU’s global role in this area. When combined, these six pillars will ensure that EU rules are more harmonised and therefore more effective. 

The Action Plan’s six pillars are as follows:

  • Effective application of EU rules: the Commission will continue to closely monitor the implementation of EU rules by Member States to ensure that national rules are in line with the highest possible standards. In parallel, today’s Action Plan encourages the European Banking Authority (EBA) to make full use of its new powers to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • A single EU rulebook: while current EU rules are far-reaching and effective, Member States tend to apply them in a wide variety of different manners. Diverging interpretations of the rules therefore lead to loopholes in our system, which can be exploited by criminals. To combat this, the Commission will propose a more harmonised set of rules in the first quarter of 2021.
  • EU-level supervision: currently it is up to each Member State to individually supervise EU rules in this area and as a result, gaps can develop in how the rules are supervised. In the first quarter of 2021, the Commission will propose to set up an EU-level supervisor.
  • A coordination and support mechanism for Member State Financial Intelligence Units: Financial Intelligence Units in Member States play a critical role in identifying transactions and activities that could be linked to criminal activities. In the first quarter of 2021, the Commission will propose to establish an EU mechanism to help further coordinate and support the work of these bodies.
  • Enforcing EU-level criminal law provisions and information exchange: Judicial and police cooperation, on the basis of EU instruments and institutional arrangements, is essential to ensure the proper exchange of information.The private sector can also play a role in fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. The Commission will issue guidance on the role of public-private partnerships to clarify and enhance data sharing.
  • The EU’s global role: the EU is actively involved within the Financial Action Task Force and on the world stage in shaping international standards in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. We are determined to step up our efforts so that we are a single global actor in this area. 

The Commission emphasised that the EU will need to adjust its approach to third countries with deficiencies in their regime regarding anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing that put our Single Market at risk. 

The new methodology issued alongside this Action Plan provides the EU with the necessary tools to do so. Pending the application of the revised methodology, today’s updated EU list ensures better alignment with the latest FATF (Financial Action Task Force) list.

To ensure inclusive discussions on the development of these policies, the Commission launched a public consultation today on the Action Plan. Authorities, stakeholders and citizens will have until 29 July to provide their feedback.