Saturday, October 23, 2021

EU chief prosecutor accuses Slovenia of justice interference

BRUSSELS (WNN) — The European Union’s chief prosecutor accused member state Slovenia on Friday of interfering with the European Union’s justice system and raised concerns about whether the trade bloc’s budget is protected from fraud or corruption.

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office began work in June aimed at independently investigating crimes against the EU budget, such as corruption and serious cross-border value-added tax fraud. Slovenia is the only member of the 27 EU that has refused to name two prosecutors to the agency.

Chief prosecutor Laura Covesi told EU lawmakers: “The fact that a member state is interfering with the proper functioning of the EU judicial institution sets a very dangerous precedent.” She said Slovenia’s failure to nominate prosecutors for the agency she leads has left “a prosecuting gap in the EPPO region”.

Prime Minister Janez Jansa said in July that the process of appointing representatives in Slovenia was “not done correctly.” He said only two candidates were offered for the posts, “even though several candidates came forward.”

Jansa accused her country’s justice system of being too slow on fraud and corruption.

The delay is an embarrassment for the EU as the small alpine nation holds the bloc’s rotating presidency until the end of the year. The EPPO region is made up of 22 EU member states. Hungary, Poland and Sweden chose not to join, and Denmark and Ireland have opted-out in EU justice matters.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the start of Slovenia’s current term at the top of the European Union that the public prosecutor’s office is “an important component in protecting EU taxpayers’ money.”

“It is great that Slovenia has signed it, and now Slovenia must distribute and cooperate with the EPPO,” she said. “I trust the Prime Minister to submit the names of candidates in EPPO with utmost promptness.”

Koसेevi stated that his office has to act as if it “did not exist in Slovenia. In this situation, how can Slovenia ensure proper and complete supervision of the bodies responsible for the management and control of the Union Fund? Slovenia Address All”. How can one guarantee effective judicial follow-up of alleged fraud irregularities? Is the EU budget properly protected?”

Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004.

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