OLAF CO-OPERATION WITH THE NEW MEMBER STATES

OLAF/04/10 Brussels, the 29 April 2004

In order to celebrate EU-Enlargement the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will participate for the first time in an event for the general public: the EU inter-institutional Open Doors Day in Brussels on Saturday, the 1st of May, the day of the accessions*. Behind the scenes, OLAF is continuing to strengthen its close co-operation with its partners in the New Member States and the Acceding Countries in the common fight against fraud and corruption. During the upcoming two months alone, the Office will organise 14 seminars for investigators, EU-fund controllers and experts in intelligence or legal affairs from these countries.

"We warmly welcome the new EU-members. Enlargement has been a top priority for OLAF for quite some time", says OLAF Director-General Franz-Hermann Brüner. "The Office is already operational in the New Member States and in the Candidate Countries where we have built up excellent networks with our partners".

Since January 2001 about one thousand investigators, experts in intelligence, EU-fund controllers, legal experts and other officials from the New Member States and the Candidate countries have participated in 26 seminars, training events and workshops organised by OLAF as part of its preparation for EU-Enlargement. In May and June alone, 14 new seminars targeting the new and future EU-members shall be held. 31 colleagues from OLAF's partner organisations in those countries got an inside view of the Office's work during one-month-internships in Brussels and another 25 will follow until the end of this year. The proportion of OLAF's existing resources allocated to the enlargement process has doubled in 2003 and will increase again during this year, 29 new posts are earmarked for enlargement in 2004.

In the New Member States and the Candidate Countries themselves the common fight against fraud and corruption can build on an operationally independent Anti-Fraud Co-ordination Service (AFCOS) in each country which is responsible for the co-ordination of all legislative, administrative and operational aspects of the protection of the EU's financial interests. These Services, which have been promoted by OLAF, co-operate closely with the Office at an operational level.

In addition, the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators' Network (OAFCN) is working to prevent fraud through a better dissemination of information and awareness-raising with a particular focus on the New Member States and Candidate Countries. Within this network the spokespersons and information officers of the national investigation services and the OLAF Spokesman meet regularly to share their experiences. Their next assembly is scheduled for the 13th of May in Brussels. The latest project of the OAFCN, a video on "OLAF and international cooperation", will be presented to the public on the Open Doors Day on 1st of May.

Dr. Alessandro Butticé
Head of Communication, PR and Spokesman Unit
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.8101

* OLAF will have its stand in the European Commission building 'Breydel' - 45, avenue d'Auderghem (4th floor), Brussels, open from 10:00 until 18:00.

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