The fight against fraud affecting the European Union budget has entered a new phase with the creation of the creation of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
The European Commission on May 23 proposed to amend Regulation 883/2013 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The amendment seeks to ensure that OLAF is equipped to work closely with the EPPO to detect and investigate fraud across the EU.
According to a Commission press release, the proposed changes will also clarify OLAF’s tools for the conduct of administrative investigations with a view to ensuring their effectiveness. This concerns checks and inspections, access to bank account information, as well as the tools to fight VAT fraud.
Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, stressed the importance of ensuring that every cent spent by the EU benefits the bloc’s citizens.
“This means that the fight against fraud and corruption needs to be more vigorous than ever,” he said. “We need to ensure that OLAF is fit for purpose and that it works alongside the EPPO in a smooth and efficient manner. We need to maintain a strong OLAF that complements the EPPO’s criminal law approach with solid administrative investigations.”
According to the Commission, the EPPO will have the power to investigate and prosecute criminal cases affecting the EU budget, such as corruption or fraud with EU funds, or cross-border VAT fraud.
Under the new regulation, the EPPO and OLAF will work together closely to ensure that all available means are used to counter fraud and to protect taxpayers’ money.