This article is part of New Europe’s: Our World in 2017

Belgium -Brussels – Fraud with EU money is estimated at over 500 million euros each year. In the last 10 years, the prosecution rate for this has climbed to 31% of the hundreds of judicial recommendations made by OLAF.

Frauding the EU budget should be made a criminal offense throughout Europe. The same goes for the VAT carousel fraud with EU money. Therefore, we need the institution of an European Prosecutor, given that in Member States, these crimes are not prosecuted or are not followed by serious condemnations. In addition, it is necessary to harmonise the prescription period for the investigation and the prosecution of these acts of corruption, money laundering and fraud.

The European Prosecutor should oversee the investigation of all crimes defined in the PIF Directive (Directive on Fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law, 2012/0193), by also including the VAT carousel fraud. Also, the European Prosecutor must have access to sufficient means of investigation. In parallel, the rights of suspects and accused persons must be protected. The European Public Prosecutor should have a clear mission, with powers of investigation anywhere in the EU and to be able to send in front of the judges all criminal cases against the Union budget. Fully respecting the Charter of Fundamental Rights in its investigations, the Bureau of European Prosecutor will work in cooperation with law enforcement institutions in the Member States and will prosecute those accused of fraud, in order to make sure they are tried by competent courts, in compliance with the laws of the Member States.

The law enforcement authorities (the prosecutors) in the Member States will not be replaced or pushed aside, but supported in the investigation of the cases of fraud. The benefits are clear: criminal investigations and indictments would be harmonised at the EU level, bringing together the expertise and the resources in such cases. The European Prosecutor’s Office will exchange information and evidence quickly, by dispensing with the lengthy and sometimes cumbersome procedures when it comes to mutual legal assistance between Member States.