As part of the EU’s push to combat financial crime, EP and Council teams reached an agreement on improving access to centralised bank account registries.
The new proposal would ensure more effective investigations into illicit finance by making it easier to retrieve data across borders from centralised bank registries. It mandates EU Member States to ensure that the information from centralised registries is available through a single access point to be developed and operated by the Commission. This way, competent authorities can quickly establish if an individual holds accounts in several EU countries without multiple time-consuming queries. According to the agreement, the format of financial transaction records would be harmonised, so that different data formats do not become an obstacle to investigations.
During negotiations, MEPs emphasised the importance of respecting an individual’s right to privacy, and the principle of data minimisation. They also secured a role for Europol in conducting joint analyses, when Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) invite it to support these analyses, and emphasised that searches in the centralised bank registries should only be allowed in cases where the authorities would be allowed to conduct a similar search in national registries.
After the vote, rapporteur Emil Radev (EPP, BG) said: “In the fight against serious crime, the competent authorities must have cross-border access to the Single access point to bank account registries. Today’s agreement is an important step in the fight against serious crime, where we also included strong safeguards for fundamental rights including privacy. As rapporteur, I’m glad that we reached an agreement that includes the involvement of Europol in joint analyses, so that we can more effectively combat cross-border crime.”
In parallel to the new rules on access to centralised bank registries, EU lawmakers are also discussing a new Anti-money laundering package, which sets out measures to strengthen the EU rules on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. It addresses the shortcomings of the existing framework, which include ineffective implementation, weak oversight and insufficient detection of suspicious transactions. The Parliament adopted its negotiation mandate for the package in April 2023, and interinstitutional negotiations are ongoing.
Once officially adopted by both the Parliament and Council, the legislation can be published in the Official Journal of the EU and enter into force.