Protecting taxpayers’ money against fraud: Commission proposes European Public Prosecutor's Office
Today, the European Commission is taking action to improve Union-wide prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers by establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office. Its exclusive task will be to investigate and prosecute and, where relevant, bring to judgement – in the member states' courts - crimes affecting the EU budget.
Vice-President Reding said: "Criminals who exploit legal loopholes to pocket taxpayers' money should not go free because we do not have the right tools to bring them to justice. Let's be clear: If we, the EU, don't protect our federal budget, nobody will do it for us."
Today's proposal follows the announcement made last year (September 2012) by President Barroso in his State of the Union speech, and reflects calls from the European Parliament and the French and German justice ministers for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office.
The European Public Prosecutor's Office has been designed to be fully integrated into national judicial systems. There will be one European Public Prosecutor who will coordinate and at least one European Delegated Prosecutor in each member state. It will be these Delegates who will carry out the investigations and prosecutions in their respective member states, using national staff and applying national law.
Vice-President Reding said: "Today we are making full use of the Lisbon Treaty – which requires the Union to take action to protect the EU budget. Our proposal also considerably strengthens the procedural rights of all suspects involved. The Fundamental Rights Charter is our compass."