25th Oct 2016

Member states 'endorse' EU-wide public prosecutor

  • The EU wants its own public prosecutor to tackle fraud (Photo: euukrainecoop)

A majority of member states are said to back a proposal for a European public prosecutor after they failed to meet a deadline to submit counter arguments.

Member state national parliaments had until Monday (28 October) midnight to submit any complaints or concerns on setting up a EU-wide prosecutor tasked to tackle fraud committed against the EU budget.

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“A clear majority of member states have not issued reasoned opinions and can thus be counted among the probable participants to the European public prosecutor's office,” Mina Andreeva, European commission justice spokesperson, said in an email on Tuesday.

A minimum of nine member states is needed to launch the office.

Monday’s missed deadline means 17 have now demonstrated tacit support with only 11 member states opposed.

Parliaments in Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the UK, issued the complaints.

Both the UK and Ireland, along with Denmark, already said they would not participate when they opted out of the idea during talks on the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

Andreeva said with the member state positions clarified, EU lawmakers would now push forward with the proposal, first announced in July, with an aim to have it launched in 2015.

The prosecutor would have the power to conduct, prosecute, and bring to justice its own EU-wide investigations in co-ordination with member state authorities against people suspected of defrauding the EU.

Its initial role to tackle EU fraud could later be expanded to other areas.

The commission claims the office is needed to tackle wide-spread fraud on the EU budget which they estimate hovers around €500 million in annual losses.

A top EU official in September told the European Parliament that the real figure is in the billions, however.

A majority of deputies at the Strasbourg plenary last week voted in favour of a report by Italian centre-right MEP Salvatore Iacolino.

Iacolino’s report covered a wide number of crime fighting issues, including setting up the office, although the Greens voiced reservations of its law-enforcement centric focus.

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