Volume 48
Issue 4
Summer '17

The Evolution of the EU Law Against Criminal Finance: The "Hardening" of FATF Standards within the EU

Written By: Leonardo Borlini and Francesco Montanaro


This Article examines the recent evolution of the EU anti-money-laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) legislative framework, focusing on the relationship between the main international standards in the field and the newest EU legislation. It suggests that international soft law norms—in particular, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations—have had a decisive influence on the latest development of legislation at the EU level and within its member states. It further argues that mainly the preventive component of the AML/CTF legislation will be strengthened by the EU instruments adopted in mid-2015. However, this Article concludes that the adoption of global soft standards has posed significant challenges to the EU legislative framework. The arguments are developed in four parts. The Article first highlights the main regulatory prescriptions that stem from the study of the phenomenology and the economics of AML/CTF regulation and underpin the current international regulatory paradigm. Second, it explores the evolution of the main international instruments in the field with a special focus on the role played by the FATF Recommendations. It also illustrates the relation between these instruments and the adoption of the new EU AML/CTF legislation from two different, but complementary, angles: (1) noting that the current international AML/CTF framework has a multidisciplinary approach, the Article focuses on the framework’s repressive component and assessing the limits of the EU criminal approach against money laundering and terrorist financing; and (2) examining the recent EU preventive legislation and addressing the main challenges posed to the EU legislative framework when attempting to accommodate global standards, especially regarding tensions with fundamental freedoms and human rights protected within the EU.

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