Another stage in the race for the European Public Prosecutor’s Office has been completed today, upturning standings and expectations, with the French candidate Jean-François Bohnert taking the lead. Previously the race was led by the Romanian candidate, Laura Codruta Kovesi, who is entangled in investigations in the country by the Section for the Investigation of Judicial Crimes, and deep-seated political infighting.

Until this afternoon, and as a result of the selection committee’s recommendation, Romania’s former National Anticorruption Directorate chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi was leading the process, followed by Jean-François Bohnert of France and Andres Ritter of Germany. However, the Coreper II meeting at the European Council that took place earlier today between representatives of the 22 Member States that have signed up for the new instrument dramatically altered Kovesi’s chances by designating France’s Bohnert as the national governments’ favourite. Member States involved rated each of the candidates. Then, by pulling those scores, a new, aggregate classification of their preferences emerged, placing the Frenchman first, with 50 points, followed by Kovesi and Germany’s Ritter at an equal 29 for joint second place.

What will follow? The three shortlisted candidates will appear for hearings before the European Parliament’s Committees on Budgetary Control (CONT) and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on the 26th of February. A single name will be forwarded to the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents. Then, a European Parliament delegate will negotiate with the Finnish, Portuguese and Croatian ambassadors, chosen to represent the 22 Member States, before putting a name forward to the Parliament plenary. The Parliament’s 751 members will then take a final vote, which will need to meet the absolute majority threshold of 376 members.