Law enforcement access to financial data

11-04-2018

Access to financial data by law enforcement authorities is seen as critical for preventing crime. This briefing looks at the specific provisions contained in EU instruments that have facilitated this access, and examines the exchange of financial data at EU level but also with non-EU countries. It shows that such access has significantly broadened in the last decades. The private sector, which collects most of these data, has been increasingly regulated; as a result, the sources of information available to the competent authorities have multiplied. The exchange of these data at EU level has been furthermore considerably simplified. However, law enforcement authorities still see significant challenges to accessing and exchanging financial information. The Commission plans to address these challenges through a number of initiatives that it announced in its 2018 work programme. On the other hand, such broadened access does not occur without debates and controversies, in particular in relation to efficiency at the operational level, adequate scrutiny and fundamental rights compliance.

Access to financial data by law enforcement authorities is seen as critical for preventing crime. This briefing looks at the specific provisions contained in EU instruments that have facilitated this access, and examines the exchange of financial data at EU level but also with non-EU countries. It shows that such access has significantly broadened in the last decades. The private sector, which collects most of these data, has been increasingly regulated; as a result, the sources of information available to the competent authorities have multiplied. The exchange of these data at EU level has been furthermore considerably simplified. However, law enforcement authorities still see significant challenges to accessing and exchanging financial information. The Commission plans to address these challenges through a number of initiatives that it announced in its 2018 work programme. On the other hand, such broadened access does not occur without debates and controversies, in particular in relation to efficiency at the operational level, adequate scrutiny and fundamental rights compliance.