Twenty European Union Countries to Set Up Prosecutor for Cross-border Frauds

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On Thursday, Twenty European Union countries agreed to organize an EU-wide prosecution service to investigate and bring to court cases that involve the misuse of the funds of the European Union or large-scale VAT fraud.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) will be based in Luxembourg, and it will take on cross-border cases that national prosecutors alone usually find difficult to track. It is envisaged that it will not yet be operational for another three years.

Last month, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, said that the EPPO should also be tasked with the prosecution of cross-border terrorism.

“This office is 20 years in the making, and while it is still not a European FBI, this is an important step nonetheless,” said Transparency International, the anti-corruption campaigners, in a statement.

The reach of the prosecutor will initially be confined to the 20 member states of the European Union that signed the agreement on Thursday, although others may join at a succeeding stage.

The countries which have not yet signed up are Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, and Britain, which is negotiating its withdrawal from the bloc.