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Romania’s Kövesi to become the EU's first chief prosecutor

Laura Codruţa Kövesi, Parliament’s preferred candidate, will be the EU's first chief prosecutor.

Her appointment was formally endorsed by Parliament President David Sassoli and the leaders of Parliament’s political groups on 16 October, which is the final step in the appointment process.

Set to take office in 2020, Kövesi will lead the new European Public Prosecutor’s office (EPPO), investigating financial crimes in the EU such as cross-border VAT fraud, money laundering and corruption.

As the former head of Romania’s anti-corruption unit, the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), a prosecution unit specialised in investigating top-level corruption cases, her work sometimes led to tensions.

Although Kövesi was the Parliament's choice, EU ministers backed a different candidate until recently.

About the European Public Prosecutor

Currently only national authorities can investigate and prosecute fraud against the EU budget, but their powers stop at national borders.

Parliament called for the establishment of an EU body in a number of resolutions, stressing the importance of ensuring the independence of its prosecutors. The European Public Prosecutor's office was approved in 2017 and an agreement on fwho should lead it was reached in September 2019.

So far, 22 EU countries have joined the new EU body. The five countries that currently do not participate - Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Denmark - can join at any time.

Fraud in the EU

In 2017, fraud affected €467.1 million of EU budget spending in EU countries. The most common types of fraud are false or falsified documents and declarations.

Source: European Commission report from 2017

The European Public Prosecutor's office will be based in Luxembourg, along with the chief prosecutor and prosecutors from all participating countries. They will head the day-to-day criminal investigations carried out by the delegated prosecutors in all participating member states.

It is expected to be operational at the end of 2020.

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