New rules improving law enforcement authorities’ access to financial information to investigate serious crime were adopted by MEPs on Wednesday.

Financial data can offer valuable information to law enforcement authorities and can help them prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute serious crime and terrorism. The new rules, already agreed with EU ministers, aim to improve law enforcement authorities’ access to information and the cross-border exchange of financial information between EU authorities.

The new measures include the following changes:

competent law enforcement authorities will be able access to bank account information for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences;

financial intelligence units (FIU) will be required to cooperate and reply in a timely manner to requests for financial information or analysis from the competent law enforcement authorities;

national competent authorities will be required to reply in a timely manner to requests for law enforcement information by the national financial intelligence units;

national financial intelligence units will be entitled to exchange any information related to terrorism and organised crime associated with terrorism; and

better cooperation between authorities in different member states and improved exchange of information between Europol and national financial intelligence units.

The new rules were adopted by 574 to 26, 6 abstentions. The text still needs to be formally approved by the Council before entering into force. EU countries will have two years to put the rules into practice.