The criminal prosecution of offenses against the European budget is the exclusive competence of the Member States and there is no European Union authority in this area. At European level there are already several institutions (Eurojust, Europol and OLAF) involved in cross-border fraud cases.

However, the European Commission wants for many years to create a European prosecutor despite the opposition of many Member States. To foster this initiative, a new article was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, art. 87, which would create the legal basis for the creation of a European Public Prosecutor, and in 2013 the Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to that end, which has been negotiated since.

The purpose of the Regulation is to establish a European Prosecutor for the conduct and coordination at Union level of investigations and prosecutions of offenses that are detrimental to the Union’s financial interests, thus virtually ceding the sovereignty of the Member States in this area, as Member States are already bound by the Treaty (Article 325) to protect the financial interests of the European Union in the same way as its own national financial interests.

The European Prosecutor will change the cooperation, up to now, horizontal, between the competent authorities of the Member States, in a vertical one, involving giving up sovereignty by the Member States. This explains the resistance opposed by some Member States (11 national parliaments[1] have sent the Commission reasoned opinions that triggered the subsidiarity monitoring mechanism, ‘yellow card’).

The contribution of such a body (new, complex, multileveled) to the effectiveness of investigating and sanctioning offenses is questionable. On the other hand, the costs of creating this institution outweigh the potential benefits. In addition, there are already institutions with competence in judicial cooperation at European level, the creation of a new institution (too complex and too expensive) will affect the existing institutions and the fight against fraud in general.

The fact that the project has been negotiated for so many years and that Member States have been from the beginning against it, and in the meantime have succeeded in introducing more and more provisions in the project to keep control at national level, prove that this project is just another Commission’s attempt to interfere in the Member States’ competences and does not correspond to the sovereign will of the Member States.

 


[1] Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, the Netherlands, United Kingdom

http://www.ipex.eu/IPEXL-WEB/dossier/document/COM20130534.do#dossier-APP20130255