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Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism at EU level

Fighting money laundering and terrorist financing contributes to global security, integrity of the financial system, financial stability and sustainable growth.

What the EU is doing and why

It is essential that gatekeepers (banks and other obliged entities) apply measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Traceability of financial information has an important deterrent effect.

The European Commission carries out risk assessments in order to identify and respond to risks affecting the EU internal market.The European Union adopted robust legislation to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing (AML). The first anti-money laundering Directive was adopted in 1990 in order to prevent the misuse of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering. It provides that obliged entities shall apply customer due diligence requirements when entering into a business relationship (i.e. identify and verify the identity of clients, monitor transactions and report suspicious transactions).

The EU laws have been constantly revised in order to mitigate new risks relating to money laundering and terrorist financing.

The legislative framework not only covers a range of areas posing such risks, including virtual assets and crowdfunding, but also complements other regulations such as Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA).

The new Regulation on the Traceability of Transfers of Funds (TFR) ensures the traceability of crypto-assets transfers and the authentication of users, aligning with FATF standards. It will apply as of December 2024.

The Commission ensures effective application of this legislation by reviewing transposition of EU law and cooperating with competent authorities.

AML explained

Policy making timeline

  1. 24 April 2024
    European Parliament plenary votes on the reports on Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism legislative package
  2. 22 March 2024
    Report - AMLD IV

    Publication of a report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive

  3. 10 January 2024
    Seat selection procedure - AMLA
  4. 10 November 2023
    Call for application - AMLA

    The call for applications to Member States came to an end, with applications for the selection of the seat of AMLA received from 9 countries.

  5. 28 September 2023
    Call for application - AMLA

    At the request of the co-legislators, which have agreed on the selection criteria, the Commission has launched a call for applications to Member States for the selection of the seat of AMLA.

    Deadline: 10 November 2023

  6. 29 June 2022
    Legislation - Transfer of Funds Regulation

    Political agreement reached by co-legislators on Commission's proposal to amend the Transfer of Funds Regulation (TFR).

    The agreement provides for an obligation for all crypto service providers involved in crypto transfers to collect data on the originators and beneficiaries of the crypto-assets transfers they operate, and make them available to the competent authorities in charge of the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

  7. 22 February 2022
    Manuals - Financial crime

    The European Commission presented a trainers’ manual and its corresponding user’s manual for those who train lawyers on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CTF) rules at EU level.

  8. 20 July 2021
    Legislative proposal - Financial crime

    The European Commission presented an ambitious package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules. The package harmonises AML/CFT rules across the EU. It also proposes the creation of a new EU authority to fight money laundering (AMLA).

  9. 16 September 2020
    Report - Trusts and similar legal arrangements

    The European Commission adopted a report assessing whether Member States have duly identified and made subject to the obligations of Directive (EU) 2015/849 all trusts and similar legal arrangements governed under their laws. Directive (EU) 2015/849 (the 5th anti-money laundering Directive) indeed extended to trusts and similar legal arrangements the transparency rules and obligations applicable to legal entities, requiring Member States to identify and notify trusts or trust-like arrangements governed under their legal framework.

  10. 7 May 2020
    Action plan - Financial crime

    The European Commission adopted an action plan for a comprehensive Union policy on preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism built on six pillars. To gather the views of citizens and stakeholder on these measures, the Commission launched a public consultation in parallel to the adoption of this action plan.

  11. 24 July 2019
    Communication - Financial crime
  12. 12 September 2018
    Communication - Anti-money laundering supervision
  13. 9 July 2018
    Legislation - AMLD V

    Entry into force of  the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/843), which amends the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

    These amendments introduced substantial improvement to better equip the Union to prevent the financial system from being used for money laundering and for funding terrorist activities.

    These amendments were introduced to

    • enhance transparency by setting up publicly available registers for companies, trusts and other legal arrangements
    • enhance the powers of EU Financial Intelligence Units, and provide them with access to broad information for the carrying out of their tasks
    • limit the anonymity related to virtual currencies and wallet providers, but also for pre-paid cards
    • broaden the criteria for the assessment of high-risk third countries and improve the safeguards for financial transactions to and from such countries
    • set up central bank account registries or retrieval systems in all Member States
    • improve the cooperation and enhance of information between anti-money laundering supervisors between them and between them and prudential supervisors and the European Central Bank

    See also the Factsheet on the main changes of the 5th anti-money laundering Directive

  14. 25 June 2015
    Legislation - AMLD IV

Relevant legislation