Wednesday

1st Jun 2016

MEPs back EU-wide public prosecutor's office

EU lawmakers are a step closer to setting up an EU-wide public prosecutor after MEPs in Strasbourg backed the European Commission's proposal.

Deputies on Wednesday (12 March) endorsed granting powers to a new office that would probe cases of fraud against the EU budget across the bloc.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The EU's existing anti-fraud office is keen to expand EU competence to 'transnational' crimes (Photo: European Commission)

"I hope that as many member states as possible participate in the European Public Prosecutor's Office to defend the EU's financial interests", said the parliament’s lead negotiator on the file, Italian centre-right MEP Salvatore Iacolino.

Conservative estimates suggest some €500 million are stolen every year from the EU coffers.

The commission says national prosecutors in some member states are not doing enough to protect the EU budget. It points out that national judicial authorities follow up less than half of all cases transferred to them.

There is resistance to the idea, however.

Last year, 14 parliaments in 11 member states attempted to repeal the proposal in a so-called yellow card procedure.

The new body would have powers to search premises, seize objects, and intercept phone conversations.

Some speculate that these powers could eventually be expanded to other areas.

“If this EPPO [European Public Prosecutor Office] starts working well, [it] will possibly, probably expand to other competences, to the others crimes, which are by nature transnational,” Giovanni Kessler, head of the EU anti-fraud office Olaf, told reporters in Brussels last November.

British conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope, who voted against the proposal, says the EU-wide prosecutor is a path towards a continent-wide criminal justice system.

But the Strasbourg assembly has said that the EPPO can only investigate non-EU-budget cases if they “simultaneously constitute” an EU budget crime.

The United Kingdom and Ireland have in any case opted out of the project. Denmark will also not join.

The EPPO proposal is now set to go to member states, where it requires a unanimous decision.

But if the commission does not get unanimity, it still plans to go ahead under the “enhanced co-operation” procedure, which says just nine EU countries can launch new EU initiatives and expand them to other countries later down the line.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceSugar-Sweetened Beverage Sales Barometer Unveils Unhealthy Drinking Patterns in Europe
  2. EJCWelcomes EU Commission Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online
  3. Access NowEDRi & Access Now Withdraw From the EU Commission IT Forum Discussions
  4. EJCCalls on EU Parliament to Take Action Against MEP who Compared Israelis to "a rash"
  5. EU Sustainable Energy WeekHave Your Say On Europe's Energy Future At Our High-Level Policy Conference.
  6. CESIUpcoming On June 14: CESI@Noon On ‘Labour Market Integration Of Regugees’
  7. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  8. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  10. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  11. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  12. Swedish EnterprisesNew Rules For Posted Workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?

Latest News

  1. Anti-fraud chief: EU was 'wrong' to lift my immunity
  2. MEPs fast-track EU border guard plan
  3. EU never used power to scrutinise emissions labs
  4. EU firms free to ban Muslim headscarves, jurist says
  5. Stop dreaming of integrated EU utopia, says Tusk
  6. Poland questions legality of EU probe
  7. German NGOs want judges to probe EU-Canada trade deal
  8. EU watchdog calls for fines on shady lobbyists