The European Prosecutor's Office takes over to defend the financial interests of the European Union

The European Prosecutor’s Office takes over to defend the financial interests of the European Union

After a few months of delay, the European Prosecutor’s Office, the new body aimed at combating fraud in European Union funds, began its investigations on Tuesday 1he is June, just in time to monitor the use of about 750 billion euros from the stimulus package that is about to be distributed.

She welcomed the organization’s leader, Laura Coffici, who was the former Romanian chief prosecutor for fighting corruption “A historic moment”. “Our success is a matter of credibility for our union”According to her, she stressed that the establishment of this body was required “More than two decades of discussions” And the “Difficult political negotiations.”

Its launch was not without a hitch. It was tentatively scheduled to take place at the end of 2020, and it had to be postponed in particular because the 22 participating countries were slow to appoint commissioned prosecutors. Two have not yet done so: Slovenia and Finland.

European Prosecutor’s Office, the official name of the European Prosecutor’s Office – European Prosecutor’s OfficeOr in English or EPPO – work in Fully independent of the Commission and other EU institutions and bodies, as well as member states.

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  • What is the jurisdiction of the European Prosecutor’s Office?

This supranational body is responsible not only for investigating but also for prosecuting and prosecuting those responsible for crimes affecting the EU budget. Unprecedented strength the OLAF did not have.

Crimes in this category relate to embezzlement of European funds, corruption, cross-border fraud of value-added tax involving at least two member states, amounts in excess of 10 million euros, and money laundering.

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For cross-border VAT fraud alone, the European Union estimates the damage at between 30 and 60 billion euros per year. For other crimes, estimates are around 500 million euros per year.

The European Prosecutor’s Office plans to handle around 3,000 cases per year.

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  • Who comprises the European Prosecutor’s Office?

It consists of a central level and is headquartered in Luxembourg. At its head, Laura Coffici, is surrounded by a body of 22 prosecutors, one for each participating country. Of the 27 EU countries, Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark are not stakeholders.

They were sworn in in September and are responsible for overseeing investigations and trials. On the ground, these activities are carried out by the Deputy Attorneys General of the Member States.

  • How do authorized prosecutors work?

So far, 88 Deputy Attorneys General have been appointed in 20 countries, enough to start working. In France there are 4. In Italy there are 15 in Germany there are 11 in five centers in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich. They can operate across the country, organize confiscation of property, issue arrest warrants, and initiate proceedings.

  • Why is it necessary?

Countries find it difficult to investigate transnational crimes. To get information from other countries, they have to file mutual legal aid requests, which sometimes take weeks, when successful. Steps that are no longer necessary with the European Prosecutor’s Office. “We can only make a phone call or send an email to our colleague in Slovakia or ItalyGerman Deputy Attorney General Markus Benninger explains. It is a great added value. “

The agency is absolutely necessary because the first funds from the massive 750 billion euro recovery package are about to be paid out to member states this summer, which poses a high risk of fraud.

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The floor Implementation will be closely monitored [du plan] NextGenerationEU to ensure all funds are used to help our economies weather the crisis’, Confirms European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders.

  • Can the prosecution start its work despite the absence of the Slovene and Finnish prosecutors on mandate?

Even if it is all right “It has negative consequences for the efficiency of our work.”Parquet floor work will begin. Laura Coffici denounced Lack of sincere cooperation From Slovenia, the country that holds the Presidency of the European Union in 1he is July.

The case prompted the resignation of Slovenian Justice Minister Liliana Kozlovic last week in protest against the government’s rejection of conservative Prime Minister Janez Jansa as two nominations for the position of deputy attorney general.

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The World with Agence France-Presse

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