European Commission adopts stronger rules to fight terrorism financing
On 21 December, the European Commission adopted a package of measures to strengthen the EU's capacity to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime. It consists of 3 legislative proposals:
Ensuring the criminalisation of money laundering
The Commission proposed a new Directive to criminalise money laundering. The proposed measures will:
- Establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions related to money laundering
- Remove obstacles to cross-border judicial and police cooperation and bring the EU norms in line with the international obligations in this area.
Putting tighter controls on large cash flows
The new Regulation on cash controls presented today will:
- Tighten cash controls on people entering or leaving the EU with €10,000 or morein cash;
- Enable authorities to act on amounts lower than the customs declaration threshold of €10,000, where there are suspicions of criminal activity
Extend customs checks to cash sent in postal parcels or freight shipments and to precious commodities such as gold, and to prepaid payment cards which are currently not covered by the standard customs declaration.
Freezing terrorists' financial resources and confiscating their assets
The proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of criminal asset freezing and confiscation orders will:
- Offer one single legal instrument for the recognition of both freezing and confiscation orders in other EU countries, simplifying the current legal framework.
- Widen the scope of the current rules on cross-border recognition, and
- Improve the speed and efficiency of freezing or confiscation orders thanks to a standard document and an obligation on the part of competent authorities to communicate with each other.
Council confirms deal on prospectus rules
On 20 December 2016, the Permanent Representatives Committee approved, on behalf of the Council, an agreement with the European Parliament on prospectuses for the issuing and offering of securities.
The aim of the Regulation is to reduce the regulatory burdens associated with issuing equity and debt securities including by (i) excluding certain transactions from the requirement to produce a prospectus, (ii) introducing lighter disclosure requirements for SMEs, and (iii) reducing approval times for frequent issuers.
The Parliament is now expected to approve the regulation at first reading. The text will then be submitted to the Council for adoption.
Taxation: New transparency rules for tax rulings enter into force
As of 1 January 2017, Member States are obliged to automatically exchange information on all new cross-border tax rulings that they issue. This will be done through a central depository, accessible to all EU countries.
Every six months national tax authorities will send a report to the depository, listing all the cross-border tax rulings that they have issued. Other Member States will then be able to check those lists and to ask the issuing Member State for more detailed information on a particular ruling. This first exchange should take place by 1 September 2017 at the latest.
By 1 January 2018, Member States will also have to provide the same information for all cross-border rulings issued since the beginning of 2012.