The EU Council adopted rules for improving the control of funds transferred from and to the community, the Council press office announced.

The new rules extend the definition of cash to cover not only banknotes, but also cheques, travellers cheques, prepaid bank cards and gold. The rules also affect cash which are sent as postal, freight or courier consignments.

The new legislation extends the obligation of every citizen who enters the EU or leaves it and brings money equal to €10 000 or more. Travellers will be required to declare the money to the customs authorities, whether they carry them in themselves, in their baggage or in a vehicle. At a request of the relevant authorities, citizens will have to show these means of verification.

If cash is otherwise sent (“unaccompanied cash”), the competent authorities will have the right to require the consignor or the payee to make a declaration of disclosure. Authorities will be entitled to carry out checks on all consignments, packages or means of transport which may contain unaccompanied cash.

Member States will exchange information when there are indications that cash is linked to a criminal activity which could have negative consequences for the EU’s financial interests. This information will also be provided to the European Commission.

The new rules do not prevent EU countries from implementing additional national checks on the movement of cash in the Community, as long as these checks are in line with the fundamental freedoms.

The new rules will enter into force 20 days after their announcement through the Official Journal of the EU.

The current rules on the movement of cash shall are into force from 15 June 2007 and, under their effect, passengers crossing the EU’s borders must declare cash equal to €10 000 or more (or their equivalent) to the customs authorities.

The changes are necessary because terrorists and criminals have found ways to overcome the current requirements. Criminal groups whose illegal activities involve large volumes of money must be prevented from taking advantage of the gaps in legislation.