Following a decision reached among the Council of Ministers of Justice this morning, a new European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be established in Luxembourg from where it will investigate and prosecute perpetrators of offences against the financial interests of the European Union.
The Office was established in order to reduce fragmentation in investigations and prosecutions among the participating member states. Twenty members states are participating while the initiative remains open to the others.
Luxembourg’s justice minister, Félix Braz, was pleased with the result as it validates Luxembourg’s position as the judicial capital of the European Union.
“The Luxembourg authorities can already guarantee that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will have timely modern infrastructure that will enable it to carry out its tasks efficiently”, he said.
The Office should open its doors in 2018, or perhaps 2019.
Minister Braz considers that the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office is an important step forward in the construction of the European area of freedom, security and justice.
After many years of negotiations, “the EU will eventually have a coherent European system for investigating and prosecuting offences against its financial interests”, he concluded. The new institution will increase the number of prosecutions to achieve more convictions and more efficient collection of Union funds obtained fraudulently.
The current European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is responsible for investigating the same fraud, but its powers are limited to administrative investigations. So far, a significant number of OLAF’s recommendations to investigate and prosecute at the judicial level are not implemented at national level. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be able to remedy this.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be independent. The Head of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, his deputies, the European public prosecutors and the European public prosecutors delegated in the exercise of their functions shall act in the interest of the Union as a whole and shall neither seek nor accept instructions No person outside the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office is organised at bot central and decentralised levels. According to a Commission study 115 people will be assigned to the central level, which, together with the permanent chambers, supervises all investigations and prosecutions.
The decentralised level shall be constituted by the delegated European public prosecutors assigned to the participating Member States. They are responsible for field surveys, while following the guidelines and instructions of the Permanent Chambers.
The text now finalised will be forwarded to the European Parliament for approval. In the event of agreement by the latter, a formal and definitive adoption on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office could take place in October 2017.