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Letter sent to European Commission regarding Poland’s refusal to cooperate with the EPPO

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Today, the European Chief Prosecutor has addressed a letter to the European Commission in line with Recital 16 of Regulation (EU) 2020/2092 of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union Budget pointing at Poland’s refusal to cooperate with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).

Though Poland does not take part in the enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the EPPO, cooperation between the EPPO and competent judicial authorities in Poland still has to rely on the existing instruments for judicial cooperation and mutual recognition. This includes essential instruments for cross-border criminal investigations like the European Investigation Order (Directive 2014/41/EU) and the European Arrest Warrant (Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA). Accordingly, all the Member States participating to the EPPO notified the EPPO as a competent authority for the application of existing instruments for judicial cooperation.

In this context, the European Chief Prosecutor has been informed that Poland has conditioned the signature of a working arrangement with the EPPO to a prior approval of an amendment of the Polish Criminal procedure code that would allow recognition of the EPPO as competent authority. The practical consequence of Poland’s refusal to recognize participating Member States’ notifications of the EPPO as a competent authority without prior national law modification is that Poland has been consistently rejecting the EPPO’s requests for judicial cooperation since the start of its operations.

Given that whenever the EPPO is carrying out a criminal investigation of a cross-border nature, it is unable to obtain evidence located in Poland, the EPPO’s ability to counter criminality affecting the Union budget is systematically hindered. The EPPO currently has 23 ongoing investigations involving Poland, which is the highest number of any non-participating Member State.