Finance ministers from European Union member states have agreed to establish an EU body to fight money laundering across the bloc.
At a meeting held today, the council of finance ministers expressed their support for the creation of the new supervisory body, first proposed by the EU Commission in May.
The ministers also gave their backing to a proposal from the bloc’s executive to harmonize anti-money laundering rules across the EU and provide coordination and support for national financial intelligence units of member states.
The EU Commission is set to present legal plans to enact the proposals in the first quarter of next year.
“The Council supports setting up an EU-level supervisor with direct supervisory powers over a selected number of high-risk obliged entities, as well as the authority to take over supervision from a national supervisor in clearly defined and exceptional situations,” the ministers said in a statement.
Olaf Scholz, finance minister of Germany, which currently holds the EU presidency, said the fight against money laundering was a “a top priority”.
“More harmonised rules and EU-level supervision will allow us to be more effective and to strengthen the EU’s anti-money laundering framework,” Scholz continued. “It is an important sign that we all stand united for tough anti-money laundering measures.”
EU executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis welcomed the ministers’ decision. “Money-laundering erodes trust in our banks and financial institutions, in our authorities and governments. Dirty money is highly mobile, and this makes it a complex challenge to deal with,” he said.
“This is why we need to address this issue consistently at the EU level and we are determined to do so,” Dombrovskis added.