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High risk third countries and the International context content of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism

Based on Directive (EU) 2015/849, Article 9, the Commission is mandated to identify high-risk third countries having strategic deficiencies in their regime on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

One of the pillars of the European Union's legislation to combat money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism is Directive (EU) 2015/849. According to this Directive, banks and other gatekeepers are required to apply enhanced vigilance in business relationships and transactions involving high-risk third countries. The types of enhanced vigilance requirements are basically extra checks and control measures which are defined in article 18a of the Directive.

New delegated act on high-risk third countries

On 18 August 2023, the European Commission adopted a new Delegated Regulation in relation to third countries which have strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes that pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union ('high-risk third countries'). Identification of such countries is a legal requirement stemming from Article 9 of Directive (EU) 2015/849 (4th anti-money laundering Directive) and aiming at protecting the Union financial system and the proper functioning of the internal market. The Delegated Regulation amends Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675.

The following jurisdictions are identified as having strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes:

High-risk third countryDate of entry into force
Afghanistan23 September 2016
Barbados1 October 2020
Burkina Faso13 March 2022
Cameroon18 October 2023
Cayman Islands13 March 2022
Democratic Republic of the Congo16 March 2023
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)23 September 2016
Gibraltar16 March 2023
Haiti13 March 2022
Iran23 September 2016
Jamaica1 October 2020
Jordan13 March 2022
Mali13 March 2022
Mozambique16 March 2023
Myanmar1 October 2020
Nigeria16 July 2023
Panama1 October 2020
Philippines13 March 2022
Senegal13 March 2022
South Africa16 July 2023
South Sudan13 March 2022
Syria23 September 2016
Tanzania16 March 2023
Trinidad and Tobago6 March 2018
Uganda23 September 2016
United Arab Emirates16 March 2023
Vanuatu23 September 2016
Vietnam18 October 2023
Yemen23 September 2016

A consolidated version of the EU list is available (with only measures that already entered into force).

Revised EU methodology for the identification of high-risk third countries

The Commission has also published a revised methodology for the identification of high-risk third countries. This methodology ensures that a robust, objective and transparent process is applied. The objective is to identify jurisdictions which have strategic deficiencies in their national AML/CFT regimes which pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union and hence the proper functioning of the internal market. Once identified, the Commission adopts delegated acts listing these jurisdictions.

This methodology was based following the adoption of a Roadmap.

The methodology describes the main steps, assessment criteria and follow-up.

The methodology provides that the Commission will consider FATF lists as a starting point and complement this by an autonomous assessment of additional countries using the following approach:

  • identify the risk profile and the level of threat to which the country is exposed
  • assess the legal framework and its effective application in 8 key areas – by analysing the countries measures on
  1. criminalisation of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism
  2. customer due diligence requirements, record keeping and reporting of suspicious transactions in the financial sector
  3. the same requirements in the non-financial sector
  4. the existence of dissuasive, proportionate and effective sanctions in case of breaches
  5. the powers and procedures of competent authorities
  6. their practice in international cooperation
  7. the availability and exchange of information on beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements
  8. implementation of targeted financial sanctions
Two pillar approach and eight building blocks with regard to high-risk third countries

The methodology was revised to ensure an increased engagement with third countries by

  1. consulting third countries on preliminary findings
  2. drafting country-specific “EU benchmarks” to address each country’s concerns (identified on a preliminary basis) in relation to the criteria set by the Anti-Money Laundering Directive
  3. seeking third countries’ commitment to implement specific corrective measures before a listing is considered
  4. A deadline of 12 months would be given to third countries taking commitments to address concerns

A listing occurs in case jurisdictions are not cooperative (i.e. refusing to express a commitment) or jurisdictions fail to implement the benchmarks within the agreed period. In case there is an overriding level of risk that needs to be mitigated and emergency situations, the Commission reserves the possibility to proceed immediately with identifying strategic deficiencies on the basis of the anti-money laundering Directive.

Here is an overview of the engagement approach with third countries based on an autonomous assessment.

Step-by-step implementation of the methodology

The following timeline displays the implementation of the methodology to identify high-risk third countries.

  1. 2017
    Stage 1: Designing Phase
    • Preparation of a new methodology
    • International engagement
    • Engagement with the European Parliament and the Member States
  2. 22 June 2018
    Adoption of the first methodology for identifying high risk third countries
  3. 2018
    Stage 2: Initial scoping/selection phase
    • Pre-assessment of all third countries based on economic and socio-political criteria
    • Identification of Priority 1 (to be assessed by end of 2018) and Priority 2 (to be assessed progressively by 2025) countries
    • Publication of results of selection phase on 13 November 2018
  4. 31 December 2018
    Stage 3: Assessment Phase – Priority 1 countries
    • Assessment of countries that have been identified as Priority 1 countries based on listing criteria using various information sources
  5. 13 February 2019
    Adoption of new EU Delegated Act on high-risk third countries (based on first methodology) - rejected
  6. 31 December 2025
    Stage 4: Assessment Phase – Priority 2 countries and follow up
    • Gradual assessment of remaining countries
    • Follow-up of countries listed following stage 3
    • Monitoring of reviewed countries

Objectives of the list on high-risk third countries

The objectives of the list can be subdivided into three principle goals:

Objectives of the List on high-risk third countries

The listing process

The listing process follows a staged approach that can be divided into four parts:

The listing process

Planning of assessment

The Commission carried out a pre-assessment to determine relevant countries to be assessed and the level of priority, in addition to those already listed by the Financial Action Task Force. Countries are considered relevant for the EU financial system in case they meet any of the following non-cumulative criteria:

  • a country is identified by the European External Action Service or by Europol as having a systemic impact on the integrity of the EU financial system
  • a country was reviewed as an international offshore financial centres by the International Monetary Fund
  • a country is considered as economically relevant based on the strength of the economic ties with the EU and the magnitude of its financial sector

On this basis, the Commission identified 132 jurisdictions so far that will be further analyzed according to its methodology over the period 2018-2025. The list of 132 countries included in the scope.

With regard to the level of priority:

  • the Commission reviews as a matter of priority a first group of 54 jurisdiction (Priority 1 countries). The assessment is an ongoing exercise; hence any country will be reassessed when new relevant information sources become available
  • the other jurisdictions (Priority 2 countries) will be assessed successively until 2025
14 NOVEMBER 2018
List of countries in the scope of the EU assessment on high risk third countries under Directive (EU) 2015/849 and list of priority 1 countries (for assessment in 2018)
(232.96 KB - PDF)

Evolution of the EU list on high-risk third countries

Based on Directive (EU) 2015/849 and the Commission’s power of adopting delegated acts regarding high-risk third countries, the Commission adopted the following delegated acts:

  1. 26 June 2023

    Publication of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2023/1219 amending the EU list.

  2. 24 February 2023

    Publication of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2023/410 amending the EU list.

  3. 21 February 2022

    Publication of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/229 amending the EU list.

  4. 7 December 2020

    Publication of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/37 amending the EU list.

  5. 7 May 2020

    Revised methodology for identifying high risk third countries

    • FATF lists as a baseline/ and increased synergies with FATF listing process
    • additional countries based on EU own assessment based on increased engagement
    • Enhanced consultation of Member States’ experts

    Publication of Delegated Regulation (EU) amending the EU list

  6. 27 July 2018

    Publication of the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/1467 amending the EU list.

  7. 22 June 2018

    First methodology for identifying high risk third countries

    • FATF lists as a baseline
    • additional countries based on EU own assessment
  8. 13 December 2017

    Publication of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/212 amending the EU list.

  9. 27 October 2017

    Publication of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/105 amending the EU list.

  10. 14 July 2016

    First EU list – based on FATF lists (Delegated Regulation (EU) 1675/2016).



7 MAY 2020
Revised EU methodology for the identification of high-risk third countries
(1.49 MB - PDF)

The Commission is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the main international body concerned with combating money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

The Commission is an observer in Moneyval – the Council of Europe body assessing compliance with AML/CFT standards.

The Commission is an observer at the Egmont Group, an international organisation that provides financial intelligence units with a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and associated predicate offences.