Wednesday

6th Jul 2022

Thirteen states join EU prosecutor's office

Over a dozen EU states have confirmed they will take part in the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), which is still yet to be launched.

The office allows an EU prosecutor to launch cross-border criminal investigations and prosecute people in areas dealing with EU money and major VAT fraud.

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 issue has eluded member states for years, over broader issues relating to national sovereignty.

But on Tuesday (28 March), some 13 justice ministers, following a meeting in Brussels, formally declared their intention to take part.

"We have the signatures of 13 ministers, so we can progress further towards enhanced cooperation," EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova told reporters. She said another three will sign over the next few days, bringing the total to 16 EU member states.

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Spain will be taking part.

Italy is also keen to join but wants a more powerful prosecutor that could also probe other areas like organised crime.

"It would be such a wrong signal if Italy was not one of the founding fathers," noted one EU official.

Sweden earlier this year opposed the EPPO, along with others, such as Poland, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, voicing objections.

Multi-speed Europe

The move is highly symbolic for an EU that is debating the possibility of a so-called multi-speed Europe, where some countries can forge ahead with deeper integration.

The plan now is to tweak the text behind the legislation to accommodate the outstanding demands of those who are joining and to figure out the costs.

Once the reworked text is agreed, it will need to be adopted with the consent of the European Parliament. Some are hoping for a launch date in 2019.

Up to 25 EU member states can join, taking into account that Denmark, Ireland, and the UK have special statuses in the area of justice and home affairs in EU law.

Olaf, the EU's anti-fraud office, would continue to operate once the EPPO has been launched.

Olaf can only conduct administrative investigations. This means that it can only refer investigations to national prosecutors. But only around 50 percent of Olaf's cases are followed up by member states.

The new European public prosecutor, once launched, would also aim to close that gap.

EU backs setting up prosecutor's office

Heads of state and government have agreed to allow a core group of EU states to set up a European Public Prosecutor Office to probe VAT fraud and crimes against the EU budget.

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.

Opinion

Romania — latest EU hotspot in backlash against LGBT rights

Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey signs Nato protocol despite Sweden extradition row
  2. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  3. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  4. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  5. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  6. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  7. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  8. Israel and Poland to mend relations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  2. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato
  3. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  4. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  5. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  6. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  7. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  8. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us