European prosecutor to help tackle large-scale transnational fraud

The Commission has presented new plans
to gear up the fight against fraud in the EU. A white paper
on the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor will be
presented in 2005.

 

The Commission presented (on 1
September) a series of measures to step up the fight
against fraud in the EU. The measures include an action
plan for the period 2004-2005 and a draft regulation on
administrative cooperation with the Member States and
between the authorities dealing with fraud at national
level. 

The action plan 2004-2005 will focus on: 

  • Strengthening OLAF’s operational efficiency and
    enhancing the role of its supervisory
    committee 
  • Improving exchange of information between OLAF and
    the EU institutions as well as between Member States and
    the Commission 
  • Establishing a European Public Prosecutor responsible
    for protecting the financial interests of the
    EU  

The draft regulation on administrative cooperation
covers large-scale transnational VAT fraud (involving a
minimum of 500,000 euros), money laundering as well as
funds and subsidies coming from the EU budget (involving a
minimum of 100,000 euros). It places new obligations on
Member States’ anti-fraud authorities when requested by
their EU counterparts in order to help them conduct
probes. 

  • Requested information should be provided within a
    deadline of six weeks 
  • Persons, goods and means of transport may be placed
    under surveillance 
  • Administrative enquiries are to be conducted upon
    request  

Moreover, a VAT information exchange system (VIES) will
be set up to enable the Commission to provide evidence in
adminstrative or judicial proceedings and draw up
intelligence reports. 

The Eurostat scandal in 2003 has prompted the
Commission to review its policy on fighting fraud. In
February, it proposed new rules of procedure to make its
anti-fraud office OLAF more efficient (see 
EURACTIV, 11 February 2004

).

A white paper on the establishment of a European
Public Prosecutor will be presented in 2005

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