Commission puts forward plans for a European Public Prosecutor's Office
17 July 2013
The European Commission has today put forward a proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office. This proposal aims at improving the Union-wide prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers. The European Public Prosecutor's Office will have the exclusive task of investigating and prosecuting crimes affecting the EU budget by bringing to judgment their perpetrators before the courts of the Member States. The European Public Prosecutor's Office will be an independent institution, subject to democratic oversight.
Giovanni Kessler, OLAF Director-General said "the European Public Prosecutor's Office will improve the conditions for investigating and prosecuting crimes affecting the EU budget. The setting-up of this ambitious project will boost the EU's success in fighting and deterring EU fraud."
Under the political guidance of Vice-President Reding and Commissioner Šemeta, and together with DG JUST, OLAF has played an active role in preparing today's legislative proposal. The case experience gathered by OLAF over the years has also been used in the proposed design for a European Public Prosecutor's Office.
In parallel to the creation of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, the Commission is also proposing a reform of the European Union’s Agency for criminal justice cooperation (Eurojust) and presenting a Communication on the governance of the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
The proposed Regulation for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office now needs to be unanimously adopted by Member States in the Council, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. If unanimity cannot be reached in the Council, the Treaties foresee that a group of at least nine Member States may enter into an enhanced cooperation (Article 86 TFEU).
Background: As set out in the Communication on OLAF's governance, adopted today, OLAF's role will change with the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. OLAF will remain responsible for administrative investigations in areas which do not fall under the competence of the European Public Prosecutor. These include irregularities affecting the EU's financial interests, and serious misconduct or crimes committed by EU staff without a financial impact. OLAF will no longer carry out administrative investigations into EU fraud affecting the financial interests of the EU, since such crimes will be under the exclusive competence of the European Public Prosecutor's Office. If OLAF activities reveal suspicions of such criminal offences, OLAF will report them to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office at the earliest possible stage. Although it will no longer conduct investigations in this area, OLAF will continue to provide assistance to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office on request, as it already does today to national prosecutors. This change will facilitate a speedier investigation process and will help to avoid duplications of administrative and criminal investigations into the same facts. In this way, the chances of a successful prosecution will be increased.