PARIS (Reuters) - Europe needs to step up its fight to block the flow of money destined to fund terrorism, the finance ministers of France and Germany said in a letter to European Commissioners on Tuesday.
Michel Sapin and Wolfgang Schaeuble set out a plan of action as a follow up from an EU declaration on the subject dating from Jan. 27, which followed deadly attacks by militant Islamist gunmen in France and elsewhere in Europe.
Among the proposals was one for an asset freezing system that covers people domiciled in the European Union as well as those from outside, over whom such powers already exist.
The three gunmen whose attacks killed 17 people in Paris in January were French nationals.
The ministers also called for stronger controls on anonymous payments through extra reporting requirements on the movement of gold and precious items, and regulation of electronic money, such as smart payments cards, and virtual currencies.
Quicker access to bank data was another proposal. Ministers also called for coordination among member states to scrutinize international flows to what they called “high-risk areas”.
“Cutting off terrorist financing is a challenge for our community but it offers us an important opportunity to drain terrorist organizations of resources,” the letter said.
In December, the European Council and Parliament agreed new rules to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, and more legislative proposals are being worked through the EU system pledging to work “to hinder terrorists’ capacity to plan and organize, and to bring these terrorists to justice”.
Reporting by Andrew Callus in Paris and and Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; Editing by Louise Ireland