(14 January 2015) – France’s effort to intensify the fight against terrorism financing is expected to find a more cautious response from EU institutions and member states at a meeting of EU finance ministers on Friday (15 January).
The Ecofin meeting will hold an initial debate on how to bolster cooperation between member states’ financial intelligence units in their fight against terrorism financing. Ministers are expected to review the sophisticated ways used by terrorists to obtain financing across Europe and beyond.
These include the transfer of gold and precious metals, and the illicit trade in cultural goods stolen in Iraq or Syria. But, closer to home, they also include the use of electronic payments and digital currencies (such as Bitcoin and mobile phone apps), or pre-paid cards for small payments, which were used during the Paris attacks in November.
There is broad support for French efforts to fight terrorism financing, various sources agreed. However, some national and EU officials were cautious about coming up with new rules as swiftly as Paris wished. Speaking on condition of anonymity, European sources told EurActiv that Austria raised concerns regarding some legal aspects of the French proposals. And the United Kingdom has warned of the risk of overregulation in areas like virtual currencies.
The Commission intends to put forward an action plan in February outlining initiatives for the coming months. But officials said “it might be too early” to propose hard legislation for now. A new set of rules “would require striking the right balance” in order to avoid overregulation, said Vanessa Mock, the EU Commission’s spokesperson for Financial Services. (EurActiv)