The European public prosecutor's office, a new body for combating infringements of the EU budget, will be able to start its investigations on June 1, after several months of delay, estimates its boss Laura Kövesi, according to a press release published on Wednesday.
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The chief prosecutor sent a letter to the European Commissioners for Justice Didier Reynders and for the Budget Johannes Hahn, to propose this date to them, according to the press release from the European public prosecutor's office.
This new body was initially due to begin its work in November 2020. But the deadline has been postponed several times, due to delays in the designations of delegated prosecutors by the 22 states participating in this enhanced cooperation.
The European Commission will be responsible for approving the start date of the operations.
Didier Reynders has repeatedly called for a start as soon as possible, at least in the first half of the year, stressing the urgency of having this new instrument for the protection of the multiannual budget of the EU and of the massive recovery plan that is therein. attached.
40 delegated prosecutors
The European public prosecutor's office has already appointed at least one delegated prosecutor for ten of the 22 member states (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia), the door told AFP. -speak of this body, Tine Hollevoet.
“On the basis of the current procedures, we are confident to have at least one delegated prosecutor per member state by June 1,” a
condition to be met to start the work, she said.
The number of these delegated prosecutors now stands at 40, after the appointments made on Wednesday by the college of the European public prosecutor's office, made up of the Romanian Laura Kövesi and 22 prosecutors (one per member state).
This college validated three of the candidates proposed by Bulgaria but rejected four from the same country, considering that they did not meet the required criteria.
It still has to decide, in particular, on the five candidates submitted by France.
Find, prosecute and commit to trial
The European Public Prosecutor's Office will have the power to investigate, prosecute and refer to national courts the perpetrators of criminal offenses detrimental to the financial interests of the Union.
It was installed at the end of September 2020 in Luxembourg, where Laura Kövesi, former head of the Romanian anti-corruption prosecution, and her team of 22 prosecutors were sworn in.
The delegated prosecutors will be responsible in their state for carrying out the investigations.
Of the 27 EU countries, five do not participate in the European Public Prosecutor's Office: Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark.
This independent authority is responsible for fraud against European funds, VAT fraud (for offenses involving more than ten million euros), corruption.
A crime representing between 30 and 60 billion euros per year, according to Ms. Kövesi.