The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (www.eppo.europa.eu) is an independent and decentralised prosecution office of the European Union, with the competence to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption or serious cross-border VAT fraud. The Regulation establishing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office under enhanced cooperation was adopted on 12 October 2017 and entered into force on 20 November 2017. At this stage, there are 22 participating EU countries. Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden do not participate in the EPPO.
Before the EPPO became operational, only national authorities could investigate and prosecute fraud against the EU budget. But their powers stopped at national borders. Existing EU-bodies such as Eurojust, Europol and the EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF) lack the necessary powers to carry out criminal investigations and prosecutions.
On 26 May 2021, the Commission adopted its Implementing Decision determining the date on which the European Public Prosecutor’s Office assumes its investigative and prosecutorial tasks. The Commission decided to set 1 June 2021 as the starting date of the operational activities of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
On 1 June 2021, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office launched its operations and started to investigate and prosecute crimes affecting the Union’s financial interests that were committed after 20 November 2017. As of this date, EU institutions and bodies, as well as the competent authorities of the 22 Member States participating in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, shall without undue delay report to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office any criminal conduct in respect of which it could exercise its competence. Any individual can also report alleged cases of fraud and other crimes affecting the Union budget directly to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Further information is available on the website of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (Reporting a crime to the EPPO).
Structure and characteristics
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has its seat in Luxembourg.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office operates as a single office across all participating EU countries and combines European and national law enforcement efforts in a unified, seamless and efficient approach. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office is organised on two levels: the central and the national level. The central level consists of the European Chief Prosecutor, 22 European Prosecutors (one per participating EU country), two of whom are appointed as Deputy European Chief Prosecutors, and the Administrative Director. The European Chief Prosecutor and all the European Prosecutors form the College of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The decentralised level consists of European Delegated Prosecutors who will be located in the participating EU countries. The central level supervises the investigations and prosecutions carried out at the national level. As a rule, the European Delegated Prosecutors handle the case in the Member State where the alleged offence was commited and carry out the investigations and prosecutions in their Member State.
The rights of the suspects and accused persons are guaranteed by comprehensive procedural safeguards based on existing EU and national law. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office shall ensure that its activities respect the rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, including the right to fair trial and the rights of defence. The procedural acts of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office are as a rule subject to judicial review by the national courts. The Court of Justice of the European Union has jurisdiction in a limited number of cases but can ensure a consistent application of EU law by means of preliminary rulings.
Member States had to transpose Directive (EU) 2017/1371 on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law (‘PIF Directive’) into their national laws by 06 July 2019. The new rules have increased the level of protection of the EU budget by harmonising the definitions, sanctions and limitation periods of criminal offences affecting the Union’s financial interests. Not only is the Directive an essential instrument for the harmonisation of the criminal law of the Member States in the area of crimes against the Union budget but it also lays the foundation for the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which investigates, prosecutes and enforces those offences as of 01 June 2021.
The vacancies can be found at www.eppo.europa.eu
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the European Council of 12 September 2018: an initiative to extend the competences of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to cross-border terrorist crimes