The idea of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) emerged during the 2000s into the “Brussels bubble”. After all this time, during the past plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the legislative institution adopted the principle of the creation of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. This Prosecuting Authority will entry into force in 2019 or 2020 (depends on the comments) and must be approved by the European Council, by the unanimity of this members.

The EPPO will have the power to prosecute all crimes against European financial interests, including money laundering or cross-border VAT fraud (estimated at a total of at least €10 million damage in the European budget). All offences against the Union’s financial interests are defined under the “PIF Directive” adopted in July 2017.

The main goal of this European Prosecuting Authority is to enhance cooperation and collaboration between the member states. Moreover, the Public Prosecutor can participate in harmonizing national regulations to shape a real European policy in the matter of financial justice.

For now, only 20 member states have agreed with the Commission’s proposal. It can be noticed that the UK, Ireland and Denmark have an automatic opt-out from the EU justice initiative. Nonetheless, every member states can adhere to the process at every moment.

This authority will coordinate national law enforcement efforts with the European police and both law agencies Europol and Eurojust, and the anti-fraud office OLAF. The prosecutor will be present in every member states involved, taking the form of a decentralized structure. The European Prosecutors present at national levels will have a double role: acting on behalf of the EPPO and exercising functions as national prosecutors. In order to ensure an effective coordination and a unique European approach, a Central Office would be composed of the European Chief Prosecutor, the College (composed by national European Prosecutors per member states), the permanent Chambers and the Administrative Director.

The vote, which took place this October, the 5th during the European Parliament plenary session, has been applauded by Vera Jourova, European commissioner for Justice.

After the vote, some European experts have already called for the opportunity to add new powers to the EPPO, especially to tackle crimes like trafficking and terrorism.

Jean-Hugue Baraër

For further information:

European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2017/608711/EPRS_ATA(2017)608711_EN.pdf

Euronews: http://www.euronews.com/2017/06/08/eu-nations-back-plans-for-prosecutors-office-to-fight-financial-fraud

Eurativ: http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/european-union-to-get-a-single-public-prosecutor/

Politico EU: http://www.politico.eu/article/eus-jourova-wants-funds-linked-to-new-prosecutors-office/