The Slovenia Times

Reynders asks for explanations from Slovenia about EPPO appointment


Brussels, 24 June - European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders reiterated his concerns on Thursday over the fact that Slovenia has still not appointed its European delegated prosecutors (EDPs). He contacted Slovenian Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič today to voice his concerns and request explanations for the situation. Several MEPs also expressed concern.

To realise its mission, the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) needs to have delegated prosecutors in place in all EPPO members, but unfortunately some of the members are behind in appointing the prosecutors or at least some of them, Reynders told the European Parliament.

The European Commission regrets that the EPPO had to be launched without delegated prosecutors from Slovenia and Finland, the commissioner said, pleased that a deal with Finland had been struck in the meantime.

Slovenia's failure to appoint the prosecutors has resulted in second thoughts about the way the relevant procedure had been carried out.

The Commission is closely monitoring the situation in Slovenia, he said. "It was precisely today that I sent a letter to the new minister [Dikaučič] in which I voiced my concerns and requested explanations," Reynders said.

"One thing is clear: procedures to appoint European delegated prosecutors must be completely transparent. That is why I requested additional information about the Slovenian government's decision to annul the previous procedure and now I'm waiting for a reply from the Slovenian authorities," he said as he addressed the Parliament as part of a discussion dedicated to efforts to make the EPPO fully operational.

He also assured MEPs that the Commission will adopt all necessary measures to ensure that all EDPs are appointed as soon as possible, noting that all EPPO members were obliged to appoint the prosecutors.

Several MEPs also voiced concern today over the moves by the Slovenian government, saying this prevented the EPPO from efficiently investigating abuse of EU funds in Slovenia, which will take over the presidency of the EU Council soon.

"Whether the Janez Janša government did this for internal political and ideological reasons, the prime minister's personal grudges to both candidates ... or to pay off debt or favours to ideological allies in Hungary is beside the point.

"The point is that this action and foremost the way it was done is another blow to the rule of law in Slovenia and on the eve of the presidency to the EU Council," said Slovenian MEP Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ.)

Daniel Freund from the Greens said Janša was abusing his position to prevent the European public prosecution to operate in Slovenia. He believes the PM's motive for this is revenge, as one of the candidates had investigated him in the past.

Ramona Strugariu (Renew) urged the Slovenian prime minister and relevant authorities to finish the appointment procedure, or else the European Commission would have to launch an infringement procedure.

According to Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD), Slovenia is sending a very bad message to Brussels by not appointing EDPs just before the EU presidency, directly violating EU law and jeopardising efficient prosecution of corruption and budget fraud.

In contrast, Milan Zver (EPP/SDS) defended the Janša government, saying the appointment procedure had not been concluded yet because of certain irregularities. He asserted Slovenia was committed to participation in the EPPO and that the selection of candidates would be carried out soon.

Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D) also expressed concern over the annulment of the appointment procedure in Slovenia.

Andrzej Halicki (EPP) said it would be good if all countries participate in the EPPO.

The EPPO aims to fight financial crime involving EU funds or affecting the EU's financial interests. Out of 22 EPPO members, Slovenia and Finland were the only ones which had not appointed their delegated prosecutors until 1 June when the office was launched.

Finland has reached an agreement with the EPPO since, whereas the Slovenian government decided in late May to repeat the appointment procedure in a move that led to resignation of previous Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič.


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