Money laundering is essential for the very existence and proliferation of criminal organizations. It also allows the corrupt and tax evaders to enjoy the profits of their crime. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels demonstrate that terrorism continues to inflict pain and suffering all over the world and Europe is certainly not immune to the same; further, the international community needs to address this phenomenon with adequate strategies, including tackling terrorist financing. Such crimes pose extremely complex challenges to regulation. This article examines the recent evolution of the EU anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing legislative framework, focusing especially on the relationships between the main international initiatives in the field (in particular the FATF Standards) and the newest EU legislation. It suggests that the international norms have had a decisive influence on the latest development of legislation at the EU level and within its Member States. It further argues that it is mainly the preventive component of such legislation that will be strengthened by the EU instruments adopted in mid 2015. However, it concludes that the adoption of global standards has posed significant challenges to the EU legislative framework. The arguments are developed in three parts. The first part outlines the main international initiatives in the field. It illustrates that the current international legislative framework has a multidisciplinary approach which also modelled the EU legislation. The second part deals with the repressive component of such an approach and assesses the limits of the EU criminal approach against laundering and terrorist financing crimes. Finally, the last part examines the preventive component, it focuses on the recent EU legislation and addresses the challenges posed to the EU legislative framework when accommodating global standards, especially with regard to possible tensions with fundamental freedoms and human rights.