Justice Ministers from 20 European Union member states voted in October to establish the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) to begin functioning in 2020. The EPPO is a major breakthrough for Europe’s efforts to fight fraud, corruption and other crimes involving EU funds. The office will be an independent body with the authority to investigate and prosecute crimes against the financial interests of the EU. Currently, only national authorities can investigate fraud in the EU. The EPPO will complement the work of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which can only make recommendations to national judicial authorities, only half of which lead to indictments according to Transparency International EU.
According to the European Commission, the added value of the EPPO includes:
- common European prosecution policy
- uniform, consistent and systematic approach
- investigation and prosecution of EU fraud cases
- continuity in complex and cross-border cases
- stronger deterrence and prevention
Moreover, the EPPO has the power to demand lifting immunity from people who have such privileges when the person in question is an obstacle to the investigation.
The EPPO will be headed by a European Public Prosecutor. Its investigations will be carried out by at least one European Delegated Prosecutor from each member state. So far, eight member states have not signed up for this initiative including Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and Malta.
The establishment of the EPPO will begin next year when the rules for the election of chief prosecutor, deputies and delegated prosecutors will be defined.
Learn more about the EPPO here.