The EU needs its own anti-money laundering authority. This is acknowledged by the six finance ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Latvia in a joint position paper. Olaf Scholz and his five counterparts want a European money laundering supervisory authority to coordinate and supervise national authorities in the financial sector and, if necessary, intervene. For a uniform interpretation in the member states, central aspects of the European Money Laundering Directive are to be transferred into a directly applicable regulation. The European supervisor should initially only monitor the financial sector and must be independent. The six finance ministers do not commit themselves to establishing a new authority, alternatively the competences of the existing European Banking Authority (EBA) might also be extended.
The European Parliament has long been calling for an anti-money laundering authority at EU level. However, at the last legislative opportunity, member states were hesitant to decide on a major reform. Instead, they commissioned the EBA to coordinate the work of the national money laundering authorities. The decision-making rules in the EBA Supervisors’ Council have not been altered significantly, so that conflicts of interest persist among representatives of national supervisors. After several scandals at European banks, money laundering is again on the agenda of the next meeting of all EU finance ministers in December.
Sven Giegold, spokesperson for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament, said:
“The initiative of Olaf Scholz and his five counterparts for an EU money laundering authority is groundbreaking. Finally, Germany and France are once again acting together and want to take up the fight against money laundering at European level. Criminal money laundered through European banks has become a threat to our internal security. A European anti-money laundering authority with powers to intervene against individual players would be a huge step forward. It is also right to set binding minimum standards for customer identification. The European Money Laundering Directive leaves the Member States too much scope for implementation and should be replaced by a binding and directly applicable regulation. At their meeting in December, the EU finance ministers must take courageous decisions against financial crime.
European money laundering supervision in the financial sector must only be the beginning. In Germany in particular, real estate is being abused on a large scale for money laundering, thereby driving up property prices. European supervision is therefore also needed in the non-financial area. Above all, it is not conducive to the goal to give the EBA further tasks which it cannot carry out because of weak decision-making rules. In the negotiations to revise the decision-making structures of the European supervisory authorities, Germany has also resisted better rules to avoid conflicts of interest between national supervisors. A genuine European money laundering supervisory authority must, however, be independent of national interests. If Olaf Scholz is really serious about measures against financial crime, he must stand up for an independent European authority against money laundering.
As important as a European money laundering authority is, the single market also requires a European Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and a European financial police force to investigate cross-border money laundering cases. Joint investigation teams against cross-border financial crime are possible within the framework of Europol. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for this European triad in response to the money laundering scandals of recent years. The EU member states must no longer block these important projects”.
Joint position paper of the finance ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Latvia: