Government Europa Quarterly reports on the speech of European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King at the European Parliament’s Plenary debate, ‘Cutting the sources of income for Jihadists – targeting the financing of terrorism’.
In January, the European Commission published their updated review of the Security Union’s effort ensure protection across member states against a myriad of threats; leading the Security Union is Commissioner Julian King. Since 2014, the European Commission have presented 22 legislative initiatives on security. As a result, five have been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, as well as 17 outstanding legislative initiatives which need to be agreed and adopted.
A series of updated documents have been released by the Union, aiming to combat terrorism and terrorism-related offences, including those:
- Travelling abroad to commit a terrorist offence;
- Returning, or travelling, within the EU for terrorist purposes;
- Training for the purpose of committing terrorist offences; and
- The financing of terrorism.
As a result, the Commission has also taken control of legally-held firearms within the EU, making it more difficult to legally acquire high-capacity weapons, as well as restricting access to chemical substances which could be used for the purpose of creating improvised explosive devices. Moreover, with further emphasis on enhancing transport security, guidance materials and improved co-operation amongst local actors and the private sector, the ‘Protecting Public Spaces’ report details the action still required from the Commission.
Government Europa Quarterly reports on the speech of Commissioner Julian King at the European Parliament’s Plenary debate, ‘Cutting the sources of income for Jihadists – targeting the financing of terrorism’.
Collaboration to address financed terrorism
“Countering terrorist financing is crucial in tackling the terrorist threat. Terrorists need to raise and move funds to maintain their networks, cover their logistical needs and commit attacks. We need to close down the space in which they can do this. Countering terrorist financing is not only about limiting their capacity to act, but also about using financial intelligence to detect and stop terrorists and their supporters.”
He furthered that the attacks carried out in Europe in more recent times have been financed by relatively insignificant funds. However, this still poses an issue for those working on the frontline in order to prevent such attacks. Therefore, there it is of vital importance that law enforcement providers are supported with the tools which they require to carry out their job effectively.
Implementing plans for protection
King added: “Tackling terrorist financing is a high priority for the Commission and, more broadly, within the EU’s counterterrorism policy. It is central to our work to build an effective Security Union. Our approach was set out in the Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing of February 2016. We are working now to implement the action plan, on two fronts: detecting and preventing terrorist funding, and disrupting the sources of revenue.”
The action plan aims to provide a range of measures, including:
- Prevention of the misuse of financial systems in order to facilitate money laundering and the financing of terrorist activity;
- Increased co-operation and exchange of information between authorities, with a specific focus on Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs);
- Trace the financial movements of terrorists;
- Improved effectiveness for asset freezing systems; and
- A reinforced judicial response to terrorist financing and money laundering, amongst others.
Streamlining interests on action against terrorism
In response to the Commission’s efforts, the recommendations of the European Parliament were well received by Commissioner King. He added that the Security Union welcomes an emphasis on information sharing – between FIUs and other national agencies – as well as the support for establishment of central bank account registries.
“I’m glad to say, as announced in the Commission work programme for this year, we will soon present initiatives to improve cross-border access to financial data for law enforcement authorities. This will include measures to facilitate access to national centralised bank account registries and retrieval systems within member states. We will also propose measures to improve the co-operation between law enforcement authorities and FIUs.
Concluding on these comments, King emphasised that efforts to counter the financing of terrorist activity is a core component of the EU’s strategy to fight against terrorism and solidify the strength of the Security Union. As a result, the co-ordinated actions will assist in:
- Disrupting sources of revenue for terrorist organisations;
- Limiting the capacity of such organisation to move and use funds; and
- Supporting law enforcement in their efforts to detect the financial movements of terrorists, as a result identifying them and their networks.
“As terrorists and their supporters constantly modify the way they collect, move and get access to funds, we need to adapt our response. The EU needs to adapt its instruments and measures to deprive terrorists of the space and means they use, as they seek to do us harm.”