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EU authorities step up efforts to combat terrorism through information sharing

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Judicial authorities in the European Union (EU) are increasing their joint efforts to combat terrorism by sharing a wider range of information on terrorism cases with Eurojust. Following an amendment to the Eurojust Regulation on October 31, 2023, EU Member States now have an improved legal basis to provide information related to ongoing and concluded terrorism cases. This data will be transmitted to the European Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register (CTR) managed by Eurojust, which will help detect links between terrorism cases or connections with other serious crimes more effectively.

“Close coordination and early information sharing are crucial ingredients in the successful fight against [terrorism],… and this is precisely what we expect to achieve by reinforcing the Counter-Terrorism Register,” said Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran.

Improving the digital exchange of information

Launched in September 2019 in light of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, the CTR is an operational tool that helps identify links between suspects and terrorist networks previously unknown to national authorities. Historically, information on judicial proceedings against suspects of terrorist offenses was transmitted to Eurojust on the basis of Council Decision 2005/671/JHA.

However, in December 2021, the European Commission proposed an amendment to the Eurojust Regulation to improve the digital exchange of information. The Commission proposed removing the Council Decision provision so information could be transmitted to the agency as soon as a case is referred to judicial authorities.

Specifically, the amendment sought to achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhance Eurojust’s ability to identify links between prior and ongoing cross-border terrorism cases and other forms of serious cross-border crimes. 
  • Establish a modern case management system (CMS) that provides a secure digital communication channel between Member States and Eurojust.
  • Simplify cooperation with third countries by granting Liaison Prosecutors direct access to the CMS.

Following its formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council, the legislative amendment of the Eurojust Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on October 4, 2023.

To further improve the EU’s information-sharing procedures, Eurojust is also setting up a new digital infrastructure that will include a CMS that integrates and enables the functionalities of the CTR. The system will be connected to national authorities through secure communication channels in accordance with the European Commission’s plan to modernize the EU justice systems.

FATF recommendations for responsible information-sharing

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) emphasizes the importance of effective information sharing in its 2022 report on Data Protection, Technology, and Private Sector Information Sharing. In the report, the FATF outlines how timely information sharing can help financial institutions (FIs) develop innovative techniques to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing more effectively.

In light of the focus on enhanced information sharing to fight financial crime, compliance teams may consider exploring and assessing their own information-sharing protocols to help combat complex modern crimes. When doing this, the FATF recommends: 

  • Conduct privacy risk assessments, data protection impact assessments (DPIAs), and human rights impact assessments (HRIAs).
  • Ensure AML/CFT experts and technology providers are engaged in any discussions on information-sharing initiatives to help ensure the technical design and output of the initiative are in line with objectives.
  • Make use of existing available data prepared in structured format (e.g., data fields used in SWIFT).
  • Set clear performance indicators or metrics to assess results and measure success to ensure the information-sharing initiatives reach their goals. 
  • Take into account local regulation and context.
  • Take a phased approach.
  • Introduce data cleansing initiatives prior to sharing.

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Originally published 10 November 2023, updated 08 February 2024

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