Cash Restrictions to Combat Terrorism on EU Ministers' Agenda

  • Draft conclusions for Friday meeting seek report by May 1
  • ECB could scrap 500-euro note by 2020, Bruegel's Veron says

European Union finance ministers will call for a new look at whether cash limits could help the fight against terrorism financing, according to draft conclusions for a meeting on Friday in Brussels.

Ministers are calling on the European Commission “to explore the need for appropriate restrictions on cash payments exceeding certain thresholds and to engage with the European Central Bank to consider appropriate measures regarding high-denomination notes, in particular the 500-euro note,” according to the draft, obtained by Bloomberg News. They’ll ask for findings no later than May 1, the draft says.

The outline also asks the commission to submit “targeted” amendments to existing anti-money laundering rules as soon as possible and no later than by mid-2016, and ministers also seek a proposed update to the EU’s cash controls regulation by the fourth quarter of the year.

The 28-nation EU has stepped up its efforts to close financing channels for terrorists in the wake of last year’s attacks that left 130 dead in the streets of Paris. EU ministers have urged nations to follow through on pledges to exchange more financial intelligence information, and the draft conclusions for Friday’s meeting calls for “immediate establishment” of an EU platform where countries could pool public information on terrorism-related asset freezes.

Big bank notes are an “important but not urgent” issue for the ECB, Nicolas Veron, an analyst at the Brussels-based Bruegel think tank, said in an e-mail. He said the central bank should announce plans to scrap the 500-euro note by about 2020, followed by the 200-euro note in 2025.

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