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8 December 2020

High-level discussion on the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing

The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is not just a German priority, but also a European priority. The urgent next steps were discussed on 9 December 2020 at the initiative of the German EU Presidency. The Virtual Panel was composed of high-ranking participants from the European institutions, future Council Presidencies and the financial industry.

The Council conclusions, which were taken forward during Germany’s Presidency of the Council, gave rise to a high-level discussion on the fight against money laundering. Former State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance Jörg Kukies warned that the steps taken so far must now quickly result in a legislative proposal from the European Commission. Attention should first be paid to further harmonizing the legal framework in Europe in order to close loopholes for criminals. Furthermore, supervision of compliance with the rules had to be more European. MEP Markus Ferber agreed with this and called for further action, as agreed in the European Parliament resolution of summer 2020. Sean Berrigan, Director-General of the European Commission, promised a legislative initiative for the first quarter of 2021. He went on to say that the work was already in progress, but that he was not yet able to present details publicly. However, the rough direction was known and publicised in the May 2020 Communication. The lively discussion was enriched by the descriptions of everyday challenges that Johanna Lybeck Lilja, former Swedish State Secretary and now advisor to the board of the Nordic large Bank Nordea AB, was able to report on. Marjan Divjak, Director-General of the Slovenian Ministry of Finance and representative of the upcoming Presidency of the Council in the second half of 2021, agreed with the calls for swift legislative action on the part of the Commission and pointed to the importance of the issue, also during the Slovenian Presidency.
Paula Fonseca Costa assured for the incoming Portuguese Presidency, which will take over this task from Germany in early 2021, that she would continue to fight money laundering as a priority. She said that the Commission’s legislative package would be taken up and negotiated quickly so that it could probably be concluded by the end of the year under the Slovenian Presidency.

All participants expressed the hope that they would be able to continue the discussion on a physical rather than virtual basis at the next opportunity.