On July 27, the European Council announced the appointment of 22 prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). According to the Council, the EPPO, which is scheduled to start operations in Luxembourg at the end of 2020,
will be an independent body of the EU responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the Union (e.g. fraud, corruption, cross-border VAT fraud above 10 million euros). In that respect the EPPO shall undertake investigations, and carry out acts of prosecution and exercise the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of the member states.
Each of the 22 prosecutors was appointed by the Council after reviewing nominations by the 22 European Union (EU) Member States participating in the EPPO. The only EU Member States not participating in the EPPO are Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Sweden, and Denmark.
The appointed prosecutors are appointed for a non-renewable term of six years, although the Council may decide to extend the mandate for a maximum of three years at the end of that six-year period. As part of the transitional process for the EPPO, European prosecutors from one-third of the participating states, as “determined by drawing lots,” will have only a three-year non-renewable mandate.
Note: This is the first significant public development in the formation of the EPPO since the Council’s approval of Laura Codruţa Kövesi in 2019 as the first European chief prosecutor. It provides some indication of the progress that the EPPO is making toward the commencement of operations by the end of the year.
Although the EPPO was initially contemplated to have 118 full-time positions, as well as up to 90 positions transferred from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in Brussels, Kövesi reportedly is still negotiating the size of her staff and budget with the European Commission. The state of those negotiations is unknown, as some European Parliament members last week were dissatisfied with the EU’s €1.07 trillion draft budget and voiced concern about protecting both the budget and the rule of law. There seems little doubt, in any event, that the EPPO will open as planned, adding a new and potentially significant prosecutive force to combat corruption and fraud across Europe.