• Clamp down on funding from illicit trade in goods, firearms, oil and drugs
  • Share intelligence proactively
  • Monitor suspicious organisations and transactions, pre-paid cards and virtual currencies

To cut off the flow of funds to terrorists, EU countries must share intelligence more proactively and track transactions more closely, MEPs said on Wednesday.

A key way to fight terrorism is to cut off sources of funding such illicit trade in goods, firearms, oil, drugs, cigarettes and cultural objects, but also slavery and child exploitation, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Wednesday.


They point out that funding for terrorist groups is supplied not only from outside Europe, but also within it, for example by international non-profit organisations, charities, foundations and networks, acting as a cover for abusive practices.


MEPs urge the EU Council, Commission and External Action Service to:


  • step up proactive information exchange and coordination among financial institutions, law enforcement and intelligence agencies and judicial bodies via a European counter-terrorism financial intelligence platform,  which could be run by EUROPOL, and include a database of suspicious transactions,


  • draw up a list of individuals and entities operating under opaque regimes and with high rates of suspicious transactions, and step up the monitoring of suspicious organisations engaged in illicit trade, smuggling, counterfeiting and fraudulent practices,


  • oblige banks to monitor pre-paid debit cards, so as to ensure that they can only be reloaded via bank transfers and personally identifiable accounts,


  • monitor places of worship and education, centres, charities, and cultural associations, if there is reasonable suspicion of their ties to terrorist groups,


  • improve oversight of traditional ways to transfer money (e.g. hawala or Chinese fei ch’ien) and make it mandatory to declare every significant transaction made, and


  • assess whether virtual and crypto currencies, block chain and FinTech technologies help fund terrorism financing and should be regulated by EU rules.




Parliament’s rapporteur Javier Nart (ALDE, ES) said: “We adopted a new “microfinance” approach aimed at cutting off transfers of funds to jihadi terrorist groups. A common information platform and coordination centre for intelligence services, checks on anonymous debit cards, registration of hawala and similar practices, and  monitoring funds received by cultural and worship centres, are just some of the proposals in this recommendation.”


Next steps


The Foreign Affairs Committee’s recommendation on cutting off sources of income for jihadists was passed by 55 votes to 1, with 5 abstention. The full house is expected to vote on the final text at its next week’s mini-plenary session in Brussels.