EU puts in place tighter rules to fight non cash payment fraud

The EU is stepping up the fight against fraud involving non-cash means of payment (credit cards, online shopping, etc.) by upgrading and modernising the existing rules.

The Council formally adopted today the directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment. Member states have 2 years to implement the new rules.

The directive updates the existing rules to ensure that a clear, robust and technology-neutral legal framework is in place. It also gets ride of operational obstacles that hamper investigation and prosecution, and foresees actions to enhance public awareness of fraudulent techniques such as phishing or skimming.

Main provisions of the text

The directive aims to be technology-neutral and encompass not only traditional non-cash payments such as bank cards or cheques but also new ways of making payment which have appeared over recent years, such as electronic wallets, mobile payments and virtual currencies.

Some of the main provisions are:

  • Harmonised definitions of some online crime offences, such as hacking a victim's computer or phishing;
  • Harmonised rules on penalties for natural persons: five, four or three years of prison, depending on the offence, as the minimum penalty in cases where a judge imposes the national “maximum” custodial sentence for non-cash payment fraud;
  • Assistance and support to ensure victims are sufficiently informed of their rights and citizens are advised on how to protect themselves from such frauds;
  • Clarification of the scope of jurisdiction to ensure cross border fraud is tackled more effectively.

The directive provides for minimum rules, so member states are free to go further and implement more stringent rules, including a broader definition of offences or higher penalties.

Next steps

This formal votes marks the end of the legislative process. The directive will now be formally signed and then published in the official journal. Member states will have two years (from the publication in the OJ) to implement the new provisions.


In 2013, it is estimated that €1.44 billion was stolen by criminals through non cash payment fraud. Around 36 billion of phishing messages are sent every year to European citizens.

The directive was proposed by the Commission in September 2017 as part of the EU's response to the challenge of cybersecurity. It updates the Council framework decision 2001/413/JHA dating back to 2001.


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EU to facilitate cross-border mobility of companies

The Romanian Presidency has reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on 13 March on the directive that facilitates EU companies’ cross-border conversions, mergers and divisions. On 27 March Member States’ ambassadors, sitting in Coreper, endorsed this important compromise reached by the Romanian Presidency, through the Ministry of Justice team.

This Directive is one of the two files of the Company Law package introduced as part of the Commission’s Single Market Strategy and proposed by the European Commission in April 2018. On the other file on Digitalization processes and digital tools throughout a company’s lifecycle, the co-legislators reached a provisional agreement on 4 February.

The Company Law Package represented a priority for the Romanian Ministry of Justice, which was responsible for coordinating the activity on both files, being convinced that the two instruments would achieve better results by working together. For the first time in European Union law, rules are provided for cross border conversions and divisions and the regime of cross border merger is improved, the legal framework being adapted to the economic and social realities.

The compromise text introduced a mandatory anti-abuse assessment in a way that the competent authority from the departure Member State, after examining the completion of procedures and formalities and all relevant information, shall not issue the pre-operation certificate if the cross border conversion, merger or division is unlawful and it was designed for fraudulent purposes.

“The business community and the European Court of Justice have increasingly highlighted the need for harmonized rules on the transfer of seat of the companies within the internal market – simple, unitary, modern rules offering adequate protection for the legitimate interests of shareholders, creditors and employees. Mobility is, therefore, a right of honest entrepreneurs and the new directive ensures its effectiveness while protecting against the risk of abuse in the exercise of this right”, declared the Minister of Justice, University Professor Dr. Tudorel Toader.

The proposed directive provides additional protection to employees, ensuring a more transparent approach and effective information to them about the planned cross-border conversion, merger or division and stronger safeguards for creditors and minority shareholders. Also, the directive encourages the use of digital tools throughout the cross border operation. All necessary formalities, such as the issuance of the pre-operation certificate, may be completed in their entirety online. The exchange of relevant information should be done via the system of interconnection of business registers (BRIS).


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