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Statement regarding the legislative amendments proposed by the Slovak government

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(Luxembourg, 18 December 2023) - Today, the European Chief Prosecutor addressed a letter to the European Commission in line with Recitals 9, 16 and 17[1] of Regulation (EU) 2020/2092 of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the budget of the European Union (Conditionality Regulation), pointing at recent legislative amendments proposed by the Slovak government concerning the Criminal Procedure Code, the Criminal Code, the Act on the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Act on the Protection of Whistle-blowers.

Based on a thorough analysis of the combination of the proposed amendments, the European Chief Prosecutor concluded that they constitute a serious risk of breaching the rule of law in the meaning of Article 4(2)(c) of the Conditionality Regulation: they would minimize detection of potential fraud affecting the financial interests of the EU; disrupt functional reporting lines established between the EPPO and the Special Prosecution Service; cut the EPPO from the specialized investigators of the National Criminal Agency, without adequate replacement; reroute most of the EPPO cases from the Specialized Penal Court to lower courts, with little expertise in crimes under the competence of the EPPO; and constitute a de facto amnesty in a substantial number of active investigations into fraud affecting the financial interests of the EU in the Slovak Republic. As a consequence the EPPO’s ability to effectively investigate and prosecute offences under its competence would be seriously affected and the level of protection of the financial interests of the EU in the Slovak Republic would decrease steeply.

In this context, the European Chief Prosecutor also noted that the speed with which the Slovak government intends to proceed with these amendments casts serious doubts as to its compliance with its obligation of sincere cooperation (Article 4(3) TEU). Finally, given that the proposed amendments would decrease the criminal law deterrence as regards offences falling under the competence of the EPPO, the Slovak government’s intention to fulfil its duty to effectively protect the Union budget (Article 325 TFEU) is also put into question.



[1] Recital 17 of the Conditionality Regulation: Measures under this Regulation are necessary in particular in cases where other procedures set out in Union legislation would not allow the Union budget to be protected more effectively. (…)