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Migration and Home Affairs
2 February 2024

Fight against the financing of terrorism

Countering the financing of terrorism is a core component of the EU’s strategy in the fight against terrorism. As terrorists and their supporters constantly modify their ways to collect, move, store and use funds, the EU needs to adapt its instruments and measures to deny them resources.

Counter-Terrorism Agenda

The 2020 Counter-Terrorism Agenda sets out specific measures to support financial investigators, proposing the establishment of a network of counter-terrorism financial investigators.

The European Commission has proposed legislation to facilitate law enforcement access to interconnected bank registers in full compliance with fundamental rights on privacy and data protection.

Network of Counter-Terrorism Financial Investigators

The network, chaired by the Commission, aims to support exchanges among Member States investigators on techniques and experiences in financial investigations. Its 2023-2024 priorities are the use of cryptocurrencies and new technologies, the abuse of NPOs, Hawala, and the financing of right-wing terrorism.

A first international annual strategic conference took place on 2-3 October 2023, involving a broader set of public and private stakeholders.

Counter Terrorism Directive

The Directive on Combatting Terrorism was adopted in 2017 and provides for a comprehensive definition of the terrorism financing offence and obliges Member States to punish such activities as a criminal offence.

Action Plan

The 2016 action plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing aims at detecting and preventing the movement of funds and other assets, helping law enforcement trace financial movements and disrupting the sources of revenue.

EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme Agreement

The EU signed the EU-US TFTP Agreement with the US allowing for the transfer of financial messaging data from the EU to the US for the purpose of the Terrorist Finance Tracking programme (TFTP). The agreement took effect on 1 August 2010.

The US Treasury Department set up TFTP shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Since then, the TFTP has generated significant intelligence that has been beneficial for both the US and the EU in the fight against terrorism.

Agreement safeguards and respect of fundamental rights

The agreement between the EU and the US includes appropriate safeguards to accommodate legitimate concerns about security, privacy and respect of fundamental rights. More specifically, the agreement:

  • Safeguards data protection rights relating to transparency, rights regarding access, rectification and deletion of inaccurate data;
  • Guarantees non-discriminatory rights of administrative redress and ensures that any person, whose data are processed under the agreement, has the right to seek redress in front of US judiciary for any adverse administrative action;
  • Acknowledges the principle of proportionality as a guiding principle for its application.

Data monitoring

Under the agreement, Europol assesses whether the request for data is necessary for the fight against terrorism and its financing. Europol also verifies that each request is tailored as narrowly as possible to minimise the amount of data requested. If a request for data does not meet these conditions, no data can be transferred.

All searches performed on the provided data are monitored by independent overseers, including persons appointed by the Commission. In accordance with the provisions of the agreement, they have the possibility:

  • To review (query or stop), in real time and retroactively all searches performed on the provided data;
  • To request additional information for justifying the link of these searches to terrorism and the authority to block any or all searches that appear to be in breach of the safeguards laid down in the agreement.


As per the agreement, regular joint reviews of the safeguards, controls, and reciprocity provisions are conducted by review teams from the European Union and the United States.

The next Joint review will be conducted in 2024.

Cooperation to counter terrorism financing

Cooperation on global level

The Commission is a member of the international standard setting body for combatting the financing of terrorism, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and actively contributes to its work as well as to the implementation of the FATF Recommendations in the EU.

The Commission is also an observer in the Council of:

  • Moneyval - Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism
  • The annual No Money For Terror Conference discusses global trends in terrorism and terror financing. The 2022 Conference took place on 18-19 November, in New Delhi.

EU terrorist lists and asset freezes

The EU maintains a list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts and subject to restrictive measures involving the freezing of funds and other financial assets, as well as enhanced measures related to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

In addition, Council Decision concerning restrictive measures against ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaeda and persons, groups, undertakings and entities associated with them allows for the freezing of funds of persons and entities associated with these organisations, participating in activities such as financing, training, recruiting, or inciting to commit terrorist acts, and/or travelling outside or into the EU to participate in these activities.

Policy timeline

  1. 20 June 2019
    Directive facilitating the use of financial and other information for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of certain criminal offe

    Rules to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement authorities to fight terrorism by improving their access to financial information.

  2. 17 April 2019
    Regulation on the introduction and the import of cultural goods

    A new Regulation introducing conditions and procedures for the import of cultural goods into the customs territory of the EU aims to detect and prevent illicit trade.

  3. 14 November 2018
    Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders

    The EU countries mutually recognise the freezing and confiscation orders.

  4. 23 October 2018
    Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the EU

    The regulation introduces controls on cash entering or leaving the EU, with reinforced safeguards against illicit cash movements.

  5. 19 June 2018
    Amendments to the 4th anti-money laundering Directive

    These amendmentsto the4th anti-money laundering Directive set out a series of measures to better counter the financing of terrorism and to ensure increased transparency of financial transactions.

  6. 15 March 2017
    Directive on Combatting Terrorism

    The Directive on Combatting Terrorism provides for a comprehensive definition of the terrorism financing offence.

  7. 20 May 2015
    Anti-Money Laundering Directive

    The EU has developed a comprehensive range of measures to combat terrorist financing, including an Anti-Money Laundering Directive.