Strengthening OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office

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In this report, the UK House of Lords EU committee analyses the main changes being proposed by the Commission to improve OLAF’s effectiveness.

Strengthening OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office

Abstract

The mission of OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, is to protect the financial interests of the Union and to fight fraud and corruption. The efficiency and effectiveness of OLAF are currently under review and reports from the Commission and the Court of Auditors are expected later this year. In the meantime the Commission, reacting to the Eurostat case, has brought forward a proposal to amend the Regulations governing OLAF.

The aim of the proposal is to strengthen OLAF’s operational efficiency, to improve information flows, to ensure that the rights of individuals under investigation are respected, and to enhance the role of OLAF’s Supervisory Committee.

The UK House of Lords EU committee has drafted a report on the Commission’s draft regulation which concludes that the proposal is premature and would do little to enhance the independence or accountability of OLAF. The Director General of OLAF would be obliged to pass on information to the Commission. The Report recommends that he be given some discretion to decide when, to whom and how much to disclose.

The Report recognises that there would be an advantage in setting out in the Regulation the rights of individuals under investigation but expresses doubts about the value of handing over a list of rights upon interview. It rejects the proposal that the Supervisory Committee should be given responsibility for safeguarding “procedural guarantees”. The Supervisory Committee should not get involved in the operational activities of OLAF.

The Report notes that the future of OLAF has become entwined with the notion of the European Public Prosecutor. The Report urges that the debate on the EPP should not distract the Commission from the need to examine ways in which OLAF can be made more effective in the fight against fraud.

(This abstract is taken directly from the report.)

To read the report, visit the website of the

UK Parliament.  

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