European chief prosecutor concerned over govt decision

Brussels – European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi has reacted to the government’s decision to annul the procedure to appoint Slovenia’s two European delegated prosecutors by saying the Slovenian authorities’ lack of sincere cooperation seriously undermines the trust in the effective functioning of the management and control systems for EU funds in Slovenia.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) can start operations without Slovenian European delegated prosecutors, Kövesi said, adding: “But this means the level of protection of the financial interests of the EU will decrease in Slovenia.

“You cannot efficiently investigate all the suspicions of fraud without European delegated prosecutors,” she said, adding that the delegated prosecutors in Slovenia should be considered as a key instance in the overall architecture ensuring proper and complete supervision of bodies responsible for the management and control of EU funds.

“The manifest lack of sincere cooperation of the Slovenian authorities with the EPPO seriously undermines the trust in the effective functioning of the management and control systems for EU funds in Slovenia,” Kövesi said.

The EPPO has been created to improve the level of protection of the financial interests of the EU. “We haven’t been set up to allow anyone to put cases in a drawer,” said Kövesi.

The government today decided to start the procedure for the appointment of European delegated prosecutors from scratch after the two candidates put forward by the Prosecution Council months ago, Matej Ošir and Tanja Frank Eler, had been waiting to get the go-ahead from the government.

Unofficially, they were deemed unsuitable by Prime Minister Janez Janša and his Democratic Party (SDS).

The decision to annul the procedure prompted Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič to resign.

The EPPO will become operational on 1 June. Aside from Finland, Slovenia is the only other of the countries participating in the office that has not put forward its delegated prosecutors despite repeated calls by the European Commission to do.

Meanwhile, five EU countries (Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden) have opted against participating in the EPPO.

Janša noted the fact that not all EU members are involved in his response to Kövesi’s comments. “Hence there is no such control in Sweden and Denmark. Both of these and three other countries do not even participate in this instrument,” Janša tweeted.

“European prosecution is a voluntary agreement by 22 countries. Every country can also withdraw from it,” Janša said on his Twitter profile, adding: “Given a few more similar political comments, and it will be 6/27,” meaning another country will join the five not participating in the EPPO.