Cash entering or leaving the European Union will be subject to tougher checks, according to new rules backed by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties and Economic Affairs committees.
The new rules repeal the First Cash Control Regulation (CCR) from 2005, which requires individuals to declare sums over €10,000 when leaving or entering the EU.
MEPs on December 4 agreed to close loopholes exploited by criminals, such as divergent penalties in different member states, travelling with sums just below the declaration threshold or using means of transferring value that are not covered by current rules.
To prevent the proceeds of crime from re-entering the economy or money being used to finance illegal activities, MEPs agreed to widen the definition of “cash” to include gold, precious stones and metals, as well as anonymous prepaid electronic cash cards,
They also agreed to enable the authorities to impound cash below the €10,000 threshold temporarily, if criminal activity is suspected. They also agreed to make it mandatory to disclose “unaccompanied” cash sent by cargo.
MEPs also asked the EU Commission to draft legislation to bring about a convergence of cash control penalties in the member states and study the possibility of establishing a Union Financial Intelligence Unit by 2019.
The draft law was adopted by 55 votes to 3, with 4 abstentions.
“Large sums of cash, be it banknotes or gold bullion, are often used for criminal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing,” said Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU), co-rapporteur. “With this legislation, we give our authorities the tools they need to improve their fight against those crimes. The central point is their fast access to all the information they need for their investigations. We therefore ask their systems for data exchange to be interconnected and we repeat our call for an EU Financial Intelligence Unit.”
Co-rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) added: “We have tried to strike the right balance between this instrument, which aims to strengthen, on the basis of internal market, the control of the cross-border cash passing through the external borders of the European Union, and protecting legitimate interests. So, making it proportional.”
The text still needs to be approved by the Parliament as a whole, before MEPs can start negotiating the legislation with EU governments.