The reinforced rules on explosives precursors will ensure stronger safeguards and controls, including online, on the sale and marketing of the dangerous chemicals, which have been used to produce “home-made” explosives in a number of terror attacks in Europe, like reported by eureporter.co.
The new measures on access to financial information will allow law enforcement to obtain important financial information across borders quickly, helping them fight serious crime and terrorism more effectively.
Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Terrorists and criminals will find it much harder to get their hands on dangerous chemicals to produce home-made bombs or money to fuel their crimes. I am glad to see that the Security Union we have been building over the past 5 years is progressing steadily and that we are closing the most pertinent security loopholes.”
Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Commissioner Věra Jourová said: “Following the money is one of the most effective ways to fight organized crime and terrorism. Our law enforcement authorities gain an important tool to get financial information quickly to improve security of our citizens and serve justice.”
Security Union Commissioner Julian King said: “The adoption of these two measures marks an important step forward in closing down the space in which terrorists operate – making it harder for them to obtain the chemicals needed to make home-made explosives, while making it easier for law enforcement to tackle terrorist financing. It is important that member states now fully implement these measures as quickly as possible.”
The EU already has strict rules in place on access to chemical substances that can be used to produce homemade explosives, however the new Regulation will:
Ban additional substances: two additional chemicals will be banned: sulphuric acid, which is a central ingredient for the production of the highly explosive TATP (tri-acetone tri-peroxide); as well as ammonium nitrate, a chemical predominantly used as a fertilizer.
Strengthen licensing and screening: national authorities will be required to carry out a more in-depth check on members of the public applying for a license to purchase restricted substances. In particular, they will need to check the legitimacy of such a request and perform a careful security screening, including a criminal background check on the applicant.
The new measures for cross-border access to financial information by law enforcement authorities will complement the EU Anti-Money Laundering framework while ensuring:
Timely access to information: law enforcement authorities, Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) and anti-corruption authorities to have direct access to bank account information contained in the national centralised bank account registries. All member states have to set up these registries under new EU Anti-Money Laundering rules.
Better co-operation: the new rules will also ensure greater co-operation between national law enforcement, Europol and Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and will further facilitate the exchange of information between the national FIUs.
Stronger data protection safeguards: the new Directive provides for strong procedural and data protection guarantees in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Both texts will now need to be signed by the President of the European Parliament and the rotating Presidency of the Council after which they will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The new rules will enter into force 20 days later and as regards explosives precursors, they will start applying across the EU in 18 months’ time. Member states will have two years to transpose the new measures facilitating access to financial information into their national laws.
The Juncker Commission has prioritized security from day one. The European Agenda on Security guides the Commission’s work in this area, setting out the main actions to ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats. Since the adoption of the Agenda, significant progress has been made in its implementation, paving the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union.
In 2013, the EU put in place rules to restrict access to explosive precursors that could be used to make home-made explosives. However, the security threat has been constantly evolving with terrorists using new tactics, and developing new recipes and bomb-making techniques. This is why the Commission proposed to tighten those rules further in April 2018, as part of a wider set of security measures to deny terrorists the means to act. The European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission’s proposal on 4 February.
Criminal groups and terrorists are increasingly operating across borders with their assets located both within and beyond EU territory. While the EU has a strong EU Anti-Money Laundering framework, the current rules do not set out the precise conditions under which national authorities can use financial information for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of certain criminal offences.
Following up on the Action Plan set out in February 2016, in April 2018 the Commission proposed to facilitate the use of financial and other information to prevent and combat serious crimes, such as terrorist financing, more effectively. The measures, agreed by the European Parliament and the Council on 12 February, will strengthen the existing EU anti-money laundering framework as well as member states’ capacity to combat serious crime.