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Protecting the EU budget: European Public Prosecutor's Office will start operating on 1 June

 

Today, the Commission officially confirmed that the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) will start operating on 1 June.

Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “We are on the home stretch now: we are about to launch the first-ever independent EU office to investigate and prosecute crimes affecting the EU budget. From 1 June onwards, European prosecutors, under the strong leadership of Laura Kövesi, will clamp down on criminals and make sure no euro is wasted on corruption or fraud.”

Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice said: “The launch of the European Public Prosecutor's office will open up a new phase in the history of European integration. The core mission of this European body is to protect EU funds from criminals for the common interest of our citizens. It will observe the implementation of NextGenerationEU with an eagle eye, to make sure funds will be fully used to help our economies recover from the crisis.”

The EPPO is in charge of conducting criminal investigations and prosecutions for crimes against the EU budget. It is the first supranational public prosecution office. It investigates and prosecutes the following types of fraud and other crimes affecting the EU's financial interests:

  • fraud relating to expenditures and revenues;
  • fraud relating to VAT (if it involves two or more Member States and is worth at least EUR 10 million);
  • money laundering of assets derived from defrauding the EU budget;
  • active and passive corruption or misappropriation that affect the EU's financial interests;
  • participation in a criminal organisation if the focus of its activities is to commit crimes against the EU budget.

This new Union body can also investigate and prosecute any other illegal activity that is ‘inextricably linked' to an offence against the EU budget.

The EPPO will conduct its investigations and prosecutions in full independence from the Commission, other EU institutions and bodies, as well as from Member States. It will complement the work and cooperate with other EU bodies and agencies such as OLAF, Eurojust and Europol, as well as with the competent authorities of the Member States that do not participate in the European prosecution office. The EPPO is expected to eventually be investigating approximately 3,000 cases per year.

Background

Established by Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 and funded by the EU budget, the EPPO is the first supranational public prosecution office in charge of criminal investigations and prosecutions. In its current set-up, 22 EU Member States participate in the enhanced cooperation. Headed by Laura Codruța Kövesi, the European Chief Prosecutor, the EPPO has a Central Office in Luxembourg, which is made up of one European Prosecutor per each participating Member State and other staff. In addition, European Delegated Prosecutors located in the Member States form an integral part of the independent body.

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