Published on : 01/06/2021 – 12:52
The European public prosecutor’s office officially took office on Tuesday, with the task of investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice those responsible for offenses affecting the EU budget.
A new body to fight fraud and corruption targeting EU funds. The European public prosecutor’s office officially took office on Tuesday, June 1, announced its head, Laura Kövesi, hailing “a historic moment”.
“Our success is a question of credibility for our Union”, declared the former head of the Romanian anti-corruption prosecution at a press conference, stressing that the establishment of this body had required “more than two decades of discussions” and “difficult political negotiations”.
One of its missions will be to monitor the use of billions of euros from the recovery plan that are about to be distributed to help EU countries cope with the consequences of the health crisis. This supranational body, whose central office is based in Luxembourg, is in charge of investigating but also of prosecuting and bringing to justice the perpetrators of offenses affecting the EU budget, an unprecedented power.
>> Read also: The EU is looking for its European prosecutor against a backdrop of discord with Romania
Judicial cooperation between 22 countries
These offenses overlap with embezzlement of European funds and corruption, cross-border VAT fraud involving at least two Member States and amounts of more than 10 million euros, money laundering.
For cross-border VAT fraud alone, the EU assesses the damage at 30 to 60 billion euros per year. For other offenses, the estimates are around 500 million euros per year. Twenty-two EU countries participate in this enhanced judicial cooperation (Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark are not part of it).
European Commissioner Didier Reynders urged these five countries to join this initiative, stressing that “the protection of the European budget required the effort of all Member States”. While Slovenia has still not appointed a delegated prosecutor, Laura Kövesi denounced “a lack of sincere cooperation” on the part of this country, while assuring that “no one is going to prevent” the European public prosecutor’s office from working.