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Tuesday, 7 June 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

29. Controls on cash movements

  President. The next item is the recommendation for second reading by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the Council common position for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on controls of cash entering or leaving the Community (14843/1/2004 C6-0038/2005 2002/0132(COD)) (Rapporteur: Mr Peillon) (A6-0167/2005).


  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. First of all I should like to express my thanks to the rapporteur, Mr Peillon, for his clear analysis of the common position of the Council and the conclusions he draws from it. I am very pleased to note that his report shares the view of the Commission that the Union urgently needs a common, effective and balanced approach to the monitoring of large-scale cross-border cash movements.

I also share Mr Peillon’s view that you are now being presented with a proposal which is clearer and more practical than its predecessor. I believe that the adoption of this proposal will provide the Community with a solid measure to enable customs to control significant amounts of cash entering or leaving the Community.

Member States’ experience shows that cash is being used to avoid controls on transfers by the financial institutions. Cash movements are also an easy means of moving terrorist funding. Criminals are helped by the fact that we have varying levels of national controls to check suspect cash movements. We therefore need these measures to complement the existing money laundering controls to remove the possibility for criminals and terrorists to use this gap in controls.

The proposal sets out a control mechanism and reporting rules, which require anyone entering or leaving the Community with more than EUR 10 000 in cash to declare the sums carried to customs. Failure to declare or the provision of false information will require Member States to verify the bona fides of the movement and take further action as necessary.

The proposal also sets out a reporting mechanism to ensure that information obtained is handled and exchanged efficiently and with due care. In addition, this proposal will also help the legitimate traveller by replacing the existing wide range of national approaches with a clear, simple and straightforward Community system. I therefore believe that the proposal you have before you today will close existing loopholes and reinforce our actions to combat terrorism and organised crime.

The straightforward system proposed means that this will be done without placing an undue burden on the traveller or the national administrations concerned. I accordingly look forward to your support for its adoption as soon as possible.


  Vincent Peillon (PSE), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, illegal or clandestine immigration does not only involve people. It also involves capital and cash, which is worrying for European democracy because there is a link between this money entering and leaving illegally and various types of trafficking: people trafficking, which was discussed in the previous debate, organ trafficking, drug trafficking, and also, of course, terrorism, Commissioner, not forgetting all kinds of transnational crime, which are a concern both for the European Union and for the international community.

In this context, the Council’s common position and Parliament’s recommendation for this second reading are moving in an essentially constructive direction. This discussion started three years ago. Parliament had already had the opportunity to express its opinion during the previous Parliamentary term and I think, like you, that the new proposal adopted by a qualified majority of the Council has simplified and enriched the text. It is for that reason, moreover, that MEPs supported it and our fervent wish now is, of course, that this text should now be adopted as soon as possible. Indeed, this is a subject for which, in the end, the major, widely shared preoccupation must be the effective implementation of the text, in addition to the text itself.

I think that the text as presented today should provide the legal instrument needed, in particular, by customs officials responsible for these inspections. I also think that, with the elements and amendments introduced by Parliament, we now have guarantees regarding respect for human rights and the protection of personal data. That is also why I am not especially concerned.

To conclude, I would like to thank the Commission and the Council for the constructive attitude they demonstrated during our various meetings and, with the rapporteurs of the other groups with whom I worked, I hope - and I am optimistic - that, tomorrow, Parliament will adopt this resolution unanimously.


  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. Mr President, this report calls for tight controls on the reporting of cash entering or leaving the European Union Member States. It is introduced under the convenient guise of the prevention of organised crime, terrorism and money laundering, but what is its real motivation?

An obligation to declare or disclose cash movements could easily be changed to impose an actual limit on the movement of money out of the European Union. Yesterday in this Chamber I spoke of the certainty of the eventual failure of the European single currency. It is obvious that the proposals in this report anticipate a future crisis of confidence in the euro. When that happens the European Commission and European Central Bank will want to prevent the movement of money out of the eurozone. To include Britain in these restrictive measures is to couple insult with injury. It is yet another reason, if one were needed, for Britain’s unconditional withdrawal from the European Union.


  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. Mr President, before I start my closing remarks I should like to respond to the remark by Mr Batten. I should like to draw his attention to the fact that, as far as the Commission and the Council are concerned, we are absolutely certain that the European Parliament had no intention other than to control cash flows in order to combat terrorism and organised crime.

I should like to comment briefly on the three amendments proposed by the rapporteur. The Commission fully understands the rapporteur’s desire to ensure that full and proper attention is paid to the data protection issues. That certainly deserves underlining at a time when a range of strong enforcement measures are on the table.

The Commission considers that the three amendments proposed do not restrict or enlarge the scope of the existing data protection provisions but instead focus attention on the need to apply them appropriately when dealing with travellers carrying large sums of cash. The Commission considers that drawing attention to this requirement is positive and would accordingly accept the three amendments tabled.

Given the Council’s acceptance of these amendments, I consider that Mr Peillon’s report provides us with a real opportunity to bring the lengthy examination of this proposal to a successful conclusion. I would hope that you can confirm your support during the vote on this proposal.


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday at 12 noon.

Written Statement (Rule 142)


  Mihael Brejc (PPE-DE). – (SL) This regulation is just one of the many legal foundations offering a basis for an effective fight against terrorism.

Terrorism is the metastasis of modern society. It is a phenomenon that cannot be controlled by one single measure, but demands a wide range of activities from the Member States and the EU as a whole.

Although at first glance this regulation will not bring with it any major demands or changes in terms of border controls, it is nevertheless an important piece in the mosaic of measures against terrorism. We must be aware that the numerous security measures on the borders and within the borders of the EU can make a significant contribution to a higher level of security and protection against terrorist acts.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the rapporteur, Mr Peillon, for his level of preparedness and cooperation, and for seeking out the best path. I think that this report reflects a good compromise and I support it entirely.

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