Sunday

14th Aug 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

EU prosecutor likely to expand powers

A top EU official on Thursday said the future EU-wide public prosecutor may expand into other domains aside from combatting fraud.

Thirteen states join EU prosecutor's office

Justice ministers from 13 EU member states have confirmed they will take part in the European Public Prosecutor's Office with another three set to join in the next few days.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us