Saturday

20th Aug 2022

Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office

  • Slovenia's prime minister Janez Janša said his country's prosecutors would be appointed by autumn (Photo: European Union, 2020)

Slovenia now risks court action unless it rapidly appoints two prosecutors to the recently-established EU watchdog tasked to fight financial crimes.

"We will think about a possible procedure before the court," EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said on Tuesday (20 July).

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

Slovenia is currently at the helm of the rotating six-month EU presidency. It had also signed up to the new European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), based in Luxembourg.

The EPPO is mandated to crack down on VAT fraud and theft from the EU budget.

Each participating member state is required to send delegated prosecutors to best investigate criminal cases in their respective countries.

"We are late, we are too late. Normally it was for the 1st of June," noted Reynders of supposed Slovenian appointments.

He said the commission will consider its options at the end of the summer, should the Slovenians still fail to dispatch its prosecutors.

"It must be very fast. Without that, we will have to take some initiatives," said Reynders.

The names of 29 potential Slovenian candidates were submitted domestically at the end of July last year.

But Ljubljana has yet to put forward their official candidates for the post - despite having finalised procedures in early December. Last month, Slovenia's prime minister Janez Janša said they would be appointed by autumn.

His government says the delay is due to new procedures introduced in late May, which were needed to iron out irregularities. They then published a new vacancy notice on 9 July.

However, the foot dragging is testing the patience of some European lawmakers, as well as EPPO chief Laura Kovesi.

In May, Kovesi accused Slovenia of "manifest lack of sincere cooperation".

Last month, German Green MEP Daniel Freund said the delay is due to the fact that one of the initial candidates for the post had previously investigated Janša.

Twenty-two out of the 27 EU states have signed up to the EPPO. Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland have so far refused to join.

Reynders also made other critical remarks.

He said money-laundering cases in Slovenia took too long. His comments followed the publication of a rule-of-law report on Slovenia.

It noted the level of perceived judicial independence had improved. But the report had also highlighted wider issues, including political interference of the media.

"The situation of media freedom and pluralism has been deteriorating," it stated.

Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office

Slovenia was supposed to nominate a delegated prosecutor for the new European Public Prosecutor Office, in charge of cracking down on corruption of EU funds. Ljubljana finalised procedures in December but has yet to send nominations, causing headaches.

'There are no clean countries', EU chief prosecutor says

"For the first time, the offenses against the financial interest of the EU will be investigated in an integrated strategic manner by a prosecutorial body with supranational jurisdiction," EU chief prosecutor Laura Kövesi said.

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. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us