The legal basis for the fight against fraud is Article 325 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (replacing Article 280 of the EC Treaty).
1. Establishment of OLAF
- Decision 1999/352/EC, ECSC, Euratom of 28 April 1999, establishing the European Anti-fraud Office
- Commission Decison 2013/478/EU of 27 September 2013
- Commission Decision (EU) 2015/512 of 25 March 2015
- Commission Decision 2015/2418 of 18 December 2015
2. OLAF's role - administrative investigations and cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO)
The following regulations and agreements define the Office’s main role and remit for carrying out its administrative investigations. These include investigations (concerning EU financial interests) in the Member States and those involving staff of the EU institutions.
The latest amendments provide for close cooperation with the EPPO based on complementarity, exchange of information and non-duplication of efforts. The revised OLAF Regulation also strengthens the way OLAF can conduct its own investigations by streamlined rules for on-the-spot checks and inspections, providing rules on access to bank account information and ensuring stronger guarantees for persons concerned by OLAF investigations.
- Consolidated version of Regulation No 883/2013 concerning investigations conducted by OLAF following its revision by Regulation (EU, EURATOM) 2016/2030 and Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2223.
- Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2223 amending Regulation No 883/2013, as regards cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and the effectiveness of the European Anti-Fraud Office investigations. See also press release and Q&A
- Regulation (EU, EURATOM) 2016/2030 amending Regulation No 883/2013, as regards the secretariat of the Supervisory Committee of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which entered into application on 1 January 2017
- Regulation (EU, EURATOM) No 883/2013 which came into force on 1 October 2013, replaced Regulation (EC) N° 1073/1999 and Regulation (EURATOM) N° 1074/1999 and was amended by Regulation (EU, EURATOM) 2016/2030
- Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 883/2013 as regards the establishment of a Controller of procedural guarantees
- Interinstitutional Agreement of 25 May 1999 specifically concerns investigations in the EU institutions
- Commission Decision (EC, ECSC, Euratom) No 396/1999 concerning the terms and conditions for internal OLAF investigations
- Guidelines on Investigation Procedures for OLAF Staff
- Commission Decision (EU) 2018/1962 laying down internal rules concerning the processing of personal data by OLAF
3. Horizontal EU legislation concerning on-the-spot checks/inspections in the Member States
- Council Regulation No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995. This regulation is supplemented by Council Regulation (Euratom, CE) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996.
4. Sectoral EU legislation
The following regulations contain provisions on the prevention and detection of irregularities:
- EU own resources: Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014 (applicable as of 1 January 2014, consolidated version, as amended by Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2016/804). Regulation No 1150/2000 (amended by Regulation No 2028/2004 and Regulation (EC Euratom) No 105/2009)
- Mutual Administrative Assistance: Regulation (EC) No 515/97 as amended by Regulations (EC) No 766/2008 and (EU) No 2015/1525. Main elements of (EU) No 2015/1525. Consolidated version of Regulation (EC) 515/97
- Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/757 of 3 February 2016 determining those operations in connection with the application of agricultural regulations which require the introduction of information into the Custom Information System
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/346 of 10 March 2016 determining the items to be included in the Customs Information System
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/345 of 10 March 2016 setting out the frequency of reporting of container status messages, the format of the data and the method of transmission
- Annex containing CN codes
- List of national authorities designed according to the provision in Article 29(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 515/97 - Corrigendum(Recent updates: European Commission (DG TAXUD A.3., DG ENV F.3), Joint Research Centre (Unit E.5). These updates will be included in the next Corrigendum.)
- List of national authorities designed according to the provision in Article 30(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 515/97 - Corrigendum
- Data protection contractual clauses related to administrative arrangement - List of third countries that agreed to the clauses : Turkey, Serbia, The Republic of North Macedonia.
- Common Agricultural Policy (CAP, including the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)): Article 47 of Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 (as amended per 1.1.2014) and, for Programming Period 2007 – 2013 Article 37 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005 of 21 June 2005.
- European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds : Provisions on internal control and on audits and checks regarding the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund in : Articles 72 – 75 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 (as amended per 14.12.2016). For the previous programming period, regarding the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund only, see Articles 70 – 73 of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (as last amended per 21.12.2013).
- Direct expenditure: Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012.
5. Notification of irregularities and recovery of misused funds
Financing of the CAP:
- Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1971
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1975
- for Programming Period 2007 – 2013: Commission Regulation (EC) No 1848/2006
European Structural Funds, Cohesion Fund and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund:
- Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1970
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1974
- for Programming Period 2007 – 2013 (Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund): Articles 27 - 36 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006
Fund for European Aid for the Most Deprived:
Home Affairs Funds:
- Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/1973
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1977
- for Programming Period 2007 – 2013 (European Refugee Fund, External Borders Fund, European Return Fund and European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals):
6. Harmonisation of EU criminal law
Conventions on the harmonisation of EU criminal law
- Protection of EU financial interests: EU Convention of 26 July 1995 and its three protocols ("PIF Convention and its protocols"):
- Fight against corruption involving EU and Member State officials: EU Convention of 26 May 1997.
Commission reports concerning the implementation by Member States of the EU Convention of 26 July 1995 and its related protocols:
Note: for all Member States except DK, the PIF Convention will be replaced by the PIF directive (see below). The PIF Convention will remain applicable only to DK. The deadline for implementing the PIF directive is July 2019.
Directive on the fight against fraud to the Union's financial interests by means of criminal law ("PIF directive")
Member States bound by the directive (all Member States except DK) have two years to transpose it (by July 2019). After that the directive will replace the PIF Convention and its protocols for those Member States bound by it, while the PIF Convention will remain in force in DK.
7. Working Arrangements
- Practical Agreement on arrangements of cooperation between European Union's Judicial Co-operation Body (Eurojust) and OLAF, 2008
- Working Arrangement on cooperative relations between OLAF and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), 2020
- Working Arrangement between OLAF and the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), 2021
- Working Arrangements between the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the OLAF Supervisory Committee, 2021
8. Agreements with third parties
9. Customs anti-fraud measures in preferential tariff regimes
Tariff preferences for goods can be suspended under anti-fraud clauses if:
- there is large-scale fraud or a major irregularity, or
- cooperation among the parties concerned is not sufficiently effective to successfully tackle a breach of customs legislation.
Anti-fraud clauses are designed to tackle illicit trade by preventing the abuse of tariff preferences. They support legitimate traders by eliminating improper and unfair competition.
The European Union grants tariff preferences to non-EU countries on the condition that these preferences are coupled with appropriate anti-fraud measures. This principle is set out in policy documents adopted by the Commission, the Council, the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors.
As a result, the following are equipped with anti-fraud clauses:
- all autonomous regimes, such as the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), covering around 76 countries (in 2018)
- conventional preferential tariff arrangements, i.e. free trade agreements (FTAs) or economic partnership agreements (EPAs), covering over 45 additional countries.
Anti-fraud clauses may appear under different names, e.g.:
- Special provisions on administrative cooperation (FTA with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador; and pending entry into force, with Mexico)
- Enforcement of preferential treatment (Chile)
- Failure to provide administrative cooperation (Montenegro)
- Specific measures concerning the management of preferential treatment (Vietnam, and pending entry into force, Japan).