With funds from the Recovery now close, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (Eppo) who will oversee the management of incoming resources. The President of the Commission announced its operation, Ursula von der Leyen, with a tweet stating that the Prosecutor’s Office will serve to protect taxpayers’ money.
What’s this – The independent judicial institution was already born in 2017 with the aim of investigating, prosecuting and bringing to trial the crimes against the EU budget and its financial interests, such as fraud, corruption, money laundering and cross-border VAT fraud. Today, however, it finally comes into operation under the guidance of the chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. Eppo – acronym for European Public Prosecutor’s Office – employs a team of experts and 22 European prosecutors (one for each EU country that has joined the enhanced cooperation on the matter). The only Member States left out of the initiative for now are Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Poland and Sweden. For Italy, the magistrate is present Danilo Ceccarelli, former deputy prosecutor of Milan, with many years of experience in Kosovo as an international prosecutor in the European mission Eulex.
How does it work – With an annual funding of 44.9 million euros, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will work on two levels: a central one, based in Luxembourg, and a national one. The chief prosecutor, i 22 national prosecutors (which constitute the college of the Prosecutor’s Office) and the Administrative Director with the function of supervising the investigations. At the national level, European Delegated Prosecutors (dual national prosecutors) are responsible for conducting investigations and prosecuting in accordance with local law. Every citizen can report a crime directly from the Eppo website. At that point, the validity of the complaint (any misrepresentation will be prosecuted) before initiating investigations with the help of national law enforcement authorities and other EU bodies, such as Eurojust ed Europol. Specifically, the Eppo will deal with cross-border fraud crimes exceeding € 10,000 involving EU funds, or cases of VAT fraud which involve damage exceeding 10 million.
In view of the arrival of the funds of the plan Next Generation EU, the Prosecutor intends to play a key role in ensuring the correct management of resources. As reported on the website of the Commission, before its entry into operation only national authorities could investigate crimes against the financial interests of the EU, but their power did not go beyond national borders. In fact, even institutions such as Eurojust, Europol or the European Anti-Fraud Office did not have the necessary skills to investigate and prosecute such offenses.