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EU Member States agree cross-border freezing regulation

Monday, 25 June, 2018

The European Commission's proposed EU-wide regulation on the freezing and confiscation of assets across borders has been confirmed by Member States' governments.

The new regulation was adopted under the Commission's 'Action Plan' against terrorist financing, launched in February 2016, after the attacks in Paris. It implies that a judicial decision taken in one EU Member State will be recognised and enforced by another EU Member State, without being assessed again.

The European Union already has legislation mandating the mutual recognition of orders to confiscate or freeze assets across borders, based on the 2014 Directive on the freezing and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime, and two Framework Decisions. But the Commission says this system is 'outdated and prone to loopholes'.

The new regulation, once it is formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, will have direct statutory force in all Member States, bringing about more rapid cooperation using agreed standards and documentation. It will set a deadline of 48 hours to recognise and execute cross-border freezing orders, and will allow the authorities to confiscate assets from criminals' relatives, as well as criminals themselves. Victims' right to compensation against criminals will have priority over Member States' claims, said the Commission.

The regulation includes limited grounds for one state to refuse to cooperate with a request, and an obligation to inform interested parties of the execution of a freezing order, including the reasons why it is carried out and the legal remedies available.