Friday

3rd Feb 2023

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.

Opinion

Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters

The ECHR ruled that Russia was in "effective control" of separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine from 11 May 2014. In doing so, the court has formally acknowledged the inter-state character of the conflict and Russia's culpability for human rights abuses.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us