A week after the attacks in Paris, home affairs ministers from European Union countries are due to gather in Brussels on Friday 20th November for a crisis meeting to discuss methods of strengthening the region’s response to terrorism.
One crucial item on the agenda is a planned crackdown on virtual currencies and anonymous payments made online and through pre-paid cards.
According to draft conclusions of the meeting, European interior and justice ministers will urge the European Commission (the EU executive arm) to propose measures to strengthen the controls of non-banking payment methods. These include electronic/anonymous payments, virtual currencies and the transfers of gold and precious metals by pre-paid cards.
The most common virtual currency, Bitcoin, is used as an online method of making money anonymously and quickly around the world without the need for third-party verification. In addition, anonymous electronic payments can be made via pre-paid debit cards bought as gift cards in stores.
Tomorrow’s meeting will also concentrate on the Europe-wide database of online passengers, firearms security and the reinforcement of controls at external borders. Draft documents have also said that the ministers also plan “to curb more effectively the illicit trade in cultural goods.”
The plans for the meeting were issued in an official declaration by the European Commission. In the statement issued by Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s internal security minister and deputy prime minister, French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve and European commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, the following comment was declared: “The barbaric attacks of 13 November 2015 are an attack against Europe as a whole. Europe has an historic responsibility to defend its fundamental values and not to succumb to terror. Europe remains united in solidarity against violence and hatred.”
Mr Schneider also commented: “Confronted with barbarism and terrorism, Europe stands united with France”, adding that the talks will “strengthen the European response (to terrorism) while ensuring the follow-up of the measures taken”.
Mr Cazeneuve added: “More than ever, our fight against terrorism must be relentless and resolute.”