Reynders urges Slovenia to fulfil its obligations regarding delegated prosecutors

Luxembourg – The European Commission is in contact with the Slovenian authorities for Slovenia to fulfil its obligations regarding the appointment of its European delegated prosecutors as soon as possible, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Tuesday.

“I have had many contacts with the Slovenian authorities at the level of the government to see if it would be possible to appoint the European delegated prosecutors,” Reynders told reporters at today’s press conference marking the start of operation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).

He said they had not received a positive answer yet.

After months of delay in the appointing of Slovenia’s delegated prosecutors, the government decided last Thursday to repeat the call for applications, arguing that the Prosecution Council has not put forward enough candidates. The government said at least six candidates should have been presented, while the council put forward two.

Responding to a journalist question about whether the conditions had been fulfilled to launch an infringement procedure against Slovenia over violation of EU legislation, Reynders said that first they would ask the Slovenian side for an explanation of why the call had to be repeated.

The Slovenian authorities will be urged to conduct a very transparent appointment process, he said. “If we don’t have a positive reaction in the near future, we’ll analyse all the possible avenues to force Slovenia to fulfil the obligations of the EU regulation.”

He did not exclude the possibility of a procedure against Slovenia at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. However, he stressed that talks with the Slovenian authorities were under way to make sure that Slovenia’s obligations are met in the coming weeks or very soon.

If Slovenia fails to appoint delegated prosecutors shortly, one option being mentioned is that Slovenian cases could be temporarily taken over by Jaka Brezigar, the Slovenian member of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office who is a member of the EPPO board.

Reynders also mentioned this as an option in a letter to Slovenia a while ago. But this could only be a temporary solution, as Reynders stressed today that the appointment of prosecutors was an obligation.

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi also said at today’s press conference that the Slovenian government decision showed a “lack of sincere cooperation”. “We haven’t been set up to allow anyone to put Slovenian cases in the shelf,” said Kövesi, who will lead the EPPO.

A total of 22 countries participate in the EPPO with Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Hungary and Poland opting out. All participating countries bar Slovenia and Finland have already appointed their delegated prosecutors.