France is pressing the European Union to strengthen measures in its fight on terrorist financing because past EU efforts haven’t been effective, according to a document prepared for a finance ministers’ meeting this week in Brussels.
Asset freezing, electronic payments, virtual currencies and police powers all factor into a French wish list prepared ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of 28 EU ministers. The 13-page document calls for accelerating new rules on money laundering that would not take effect until 2017, along with other measures, according to the report obtained by Bloomberg.
France also wants to revisit proposals left out of that legislation, in hopes that they will gain more support now that fighting terrorism has become a more urgent part of the EU agenda, European officials told reporters Monday. Reopening those proposals may raise questions about spillover effects and encourage other countries to bring back proposals that also failed to gain support in previous discussions, another EU official said last week.
Euro-area ministers will discuss “how we can combat terror financing more efficiently,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday in Brussels. “That’s right at the top of the political agenda. I hope we will get proposals from the European Commission so we can move forward a bit.”
The commission needs to step up its efforts to offer new proposals and get them enacted, France said in its position paper. More actions at the European level are needed so that new policies “have a real and operational impact,” according to the document.
Needed measures include stronger powers to freeze assets of individuals with suspected terrorist ties, even if they are EU citizens, according to the paper. It says existing asset-freeze rules aren’t effective or flexible enough.
Last week in Berlin, France and Germany pressed other European Union nations to step up monitoring and sharing of financial information to cut off terrorists’ funding. After meetings with Schaeuble, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the EU relies too much on the U.S. for its intelligence gathering.
The French finance ministry estimates that the terrorists who attacked Paris on Nov. 13 needed less than 30,000 euros ($32,420) to carry out their operation, meaning authorities need to be able to act on small transactions to be effective. France also seeks stricter controls on pre-paid debit cards and changes to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication payment system.