An EU Terrorist Finance Tracking System

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A decade after revelations of information sharing between US authorities and SWIFT, policymakers have proposed a terrorist finance tracking system for Europe.

The idea for a European equivalent to the US’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) – an investigative tool for tracing and linking international financial transactions in order to detect terrorist plots and networks – was first proposed by members of the European Parliament and certain EU member states during the 2010 negotiations on the EU–US TFTP Agreement.

This Occasional Paper studies the possible development of an EU Terrorist Finance Tracking System (EU TFTS), which was announced in the February 2016 EU Action Plan to Strengthen the Fight Against Terrorist Financing. It will first recall the history of the US TFTP and the context in which demand for an equivalent in the EU emerged. It will then discuss the previous proposals as well as current ideas for an EU TFTS. Finally, it will provide concluding thoughts to help drive and shape renewed discussions on the creation of an EU TFTS.

In undertaking this study, the paper draws on interviews with individuals within the national ministries in several EU member states, officials from EU institutions (the European Commission and the Council Secretariat) as well as members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and several US experts on the TFTP. It also makes use of official documents, media reports, academic literature and previous research by the author.

About the Author

Mara Wesseling is a Research Associate at the Centre des Sociologie des Organisations (Sciences Po Paris/CNRS). She has studied European counterterrorism financing policies for over a decade. Her research in this area focuses on risk-based approaches, effectiveness, international coordination and public–­private cooperation. In 2013, Mara successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘The European Fight against Terrorism Financing: Professional Fields and New Governing Practices’ at the University of Amsterdam. She has provided expertise on combating terrorism financing to the European Parliament, the OECD, the Dutch Ministry of Finance and to private companies. Previously she held positions at the European Institute for Public Administration (EIPA) and the University of Amsterdam.


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