The first steps
of the EPPO
écrit par Paul Le Fèvre

The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) was introduced in France by Law no. 2020-1672 of 24 December 2020 (based on Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017). It has been operational since 1 June 2021.

It is responsible for more effectively prosecuting crimes against the financial interests of the European Union, up to that point neglected by the different Member States which only rarely pursued legal action on foot of investigations by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

The offences primarily concerned by EPPO prosecutions are VAT fraud, customs duties fraud, misuse of EU funds or bribery of public officials as well as laundering the proceeds of these crimes.

The financial stakes are huge since no less than €1.8 trillion is due to be injected into the economies of the EU between now and 2027 (including €750 billion under the Next Generation EU post-Covid recovery plan) and it will be necessary to monitor the investment to prevent the funds being misused by organised crime.

It operates centrally from Luxembourg: The college of the EPPO consists of 22 European Prosecutors (one for each EU country participating in this model of enhanced cooperation as it currently stands). Decision-making authority regarding prosecution rests with fifteen Permanent Chambers to which the different cases are allocated and which decide on what action to take, with the European Delegated Prosecutors being responsible for implementing these decisions “locally”, in each member state concerned and based on the different national laws applicable.

In France, this new type of prosecutor may assume the role and use the powers reserved solely, until now, for the investigating judge, which not only raises major theoretical questions, but will surely create many practical issues

He can call on all specialist economic, tax and customs administrations and services (including Tracfin, the National Customs Judicial Service and the tax authorities).

The prosecutor’s investigations fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the trial courts of Paris.

The emergence of this new transnational...

écrit par Paul Le Fèvre