The EPPO Regulation and the PIF Directive
The Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017, implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office ('the EPPO Regulation'), sets the basis for the functioning of the EPPO.
The Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2017 on the fight against fraud to the Union's financial interests by means of criminal law ('the PIF Directive') defines which crimes are considered crimes affecting the EU budget.
This relates to the material competence of the EPPO, which is determined by Article 22 of the EPPO Regulation. (Article 22 of the EPPO Regulation refers to a series of offences deriving from EU law, contained in the PIF Directive.)
All the participating Member States are equally bound by the PIF Directive. Directives leave to the Member States which forms and methods they each use to transpose them into national law. For the EPPO, this means that there exists no common European Union criminal code. However, the PIF Directive ensures a harmonised competence across EPPO Member States in respect to the crimes that the EPPO investigates and prosecutes.
In its investigations and prosecutions, the EPPO relies on the national criminal offences as they can be found in the respective criminal laws of the Member State of the European Delegated Prosecutor who has been designated as responsible for handling the investigations and prosecutions in the specific case on behalf of the EPPO. As part of their notifications under Article 117 of the EPPO Regulation, participating Member States have provided lists with their relevant national offences.
EU Member States participating in the EPPO
Currently, 22 EU Member States participate in the enhanced cooperation to establish the EPPO. The concept of enhanced cooperation (Articles 326 to 334 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) allows that a number of Member States agree to pursue a goal among themselves, notably the establishment of the EPPO (Articles 86(1), sub-paragraph 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), even if the other Member States choose to refrain from participating.
During the negotiations to create the EPPO, 20 Member States had confirmed their wish to establish it and thus became the participating Member States when the EPPO Regulation was adopted in 2017.
With the exception of Denmark, it is possible for more Member States to join the enhanced cooperation for the EPPO later. Their participation needs to be confirmed by the European Commission.
To this point, this has happened with two further Member States:
- Commission Decision of 1 August 2018 confirming the participation of the Netherlands in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office;
- Commission Decision of 7 August 2018 confirming the participation of Malta in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Legal instruments adopted by the College of the EPPO
The EPPO Regulation provides for further legal instruments that refine and guide the EPPO’s internal decision-making. The most important of them are:
- the Internal Rules of Procedure of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, as amended in the meantime;
- the Decision on the Permanent Chambers, as amended in the meantime;
- the Decision on the Functions and Procedures of the Permanent Chambers;
- various Guidelines, e.g. the Operational Guidelines on Investigation, Evocation Policy and Referral of Cases and Guidelines on Simplified Procedures and the Guidelines on the Delegation of Powers of the Permanent Chambers Respectively.
Cooperation with the EPPO's other partners
For its investigations and prosecutions, the EPPO works with many partners from within the European Union (authorities of participating and non-participating Member States, European Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies) and beyond (authorities of third countries, international organisations).
In their notifications under Article 117 EPPO Regulation, the participating Member States have designated their respective authorities that interact with the EPPO.
To facilitate the cooperation, the EPPO has concluded a number of working arrangements with authorities of both participating and non-participating Member States, as well as with partners at European Union level, e.g. the the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Eurojust, Europol, the European Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank Group.
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