European Parliament leaders threw their weight behind the candidacy of Romania’s former anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruța Kövesi to be the first-ever EU chief prosecutor.
The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, including Antonio Tajani and the leaders of the chamber’s political groups, showed ‘strong support’ for Kövesi after the former Chief Prosecutor of the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) after she was tapped as the lead candidate by the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in late February.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has a mandate that will allow the chief prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes affecting the EU budget in cases that include embezzlement, corruption, money laundering, and cross-border VAT fraud.
The new position was established via enhanced cooperation in the European Council which, last month, endorsed a different candidate – Jean-François Bohnert – for the post.
According to an EU Parliament spokesperson, MEPs Claude Moraes (S&D -UK), Ingeborg Grässle (EPP – DE), along with MEP Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA – NL) have been tasked by the Parliament to negotiate with the European Council to settle the issue of naming a final candidate to the post. According to the EU spokesperson, no dates have been set as to when those negotiations will take place.
“Today, the European Parliament has sent a clear message to Romanians who have been tired of systematic S&D and ALDE corruption…we support their efforts,” said Greens/EFA co-chair and SpitzenkandidatSka Keller following the Parliament’s announcement.
Romania’s Justice Minister, Tudorel Toader, has reportedly sent a letter to the Financial Times in which he insists that Kövesi should not be appointed as the EU’s chief prosecutor, saying, “The investigation strategy of Kövesi was based on coercion. After Mrs Kövesi ‘s departure from the DNA, I discovered that for four years, while she was in office, investigations were opened against 3,420 judges and prosecutors – almost half of the total number of judges in the country. These investigations were opened, but the files never reached the courts. They have been used to constrain the judiciary, “he said.
Kövesi was relieved of her duties as the head of the DNA by Romania’s ruling Socialist Democrats in July 2018.