The Council of the European Union on 5 December backed plans for creating an independent agency to combat money laundering.

In a statement, finance ministers asked for more “effective cooperation” among authorities, and urged the Commission to consider the advantages and disadvantages of “conferring certain supervisory responsibilities and powers to an EU body”.

The move comes after a series of scandals about dirty money passing through European banks.

The Union’s largest money-laundering scandal happened last year, when it was revealed €200 billion in suspicious payments were made through Danske Bank’s Estonian branch from 2007 to 2015, much of it from Russia.

Last year’s reform of the anti-money-laundering rules has proven to be insufficient with the emerging of many new scandals. Finance ministers from several EU countries, including Germany, France and Spain, last month said EU would benefit from a new body that would promote information-sharing and provide a more independent approach.

During the meeting, Jörg Kukies, state secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance, reaffirmed his support for a new watchdog, but warned that “we have to be very self-critical about the degree of weakness in individual member states”.