Draft EP resolution: European funds, allocated only to the member states that are part of the European Public Prosecutor's Office

George Marinescu
English Section / 16 februarie

Draft EP resolution: European funds, allocated only to the member states that are part of the European Public Prosecutor's Office

Versiunea în limba română

The European Parliament will ask the European Commission to condition the allocation of European funds on the status of a member state of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, according to the proposed resolution on the rule of law that would be debated and voted on in the meeting of February 28, 2024.

The provision is included in point 18 of the resolution where it is stated: "The European Parliament recognizes the important role of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in protecting the rule of law and in fighting corruption in the Union and encourages the Commission to closely monitor the level of cooperation of the member states with the EPPO in subsequent reports; calls on Member States that have not yet done so to join the EPPO; believes that EPPO membership should be a prerequisite for receiving EU funds; reiterates its call for the EPPO's mandate to be extended".

The proposal for a resolution prepared by the rapporteur Sophie in "t Veld for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Internal Affairs (LIBE) of the European Parliament represents a strong blow to the EU member states that have not yet acquired the European Public Prosecutor's Office structure. We remind you that 22 EU member states participate in the European Public Prosecutor's Office led by Laura Codruţa Kovesi as chief prosecutor, while Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland have so far refused to participate.

Among these states, Hungary would suffer the most if the European Parliament's resolution were to be adopted on February 28 and implemented by the European Commission, a country that is already facing the blocking of an important part of the allocation provided for in the Mechanism Recovery and Resilience, but the other four states would not feel more comfortable either, if we take into account their importance at the European level.

It remains to be seen whether Poland, now led by the former President of the European Council, the current Prime Minister Donald Tusk, will become a member of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, as well as the positions that Sweden, Denmark and Ireland will adopt, if that act passes the vote of the MEPs, especially since the resolution believes that the participation of all member states in the European Public Prosecutor's Office considerably reduces the risk of fraud of European funds and the risk of corruption.

In the same draft resolution, it is stated that Europol, Eurojust, the European Court of Auditors, the EPPO and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) should improve their cooperation to prevent corruption both in the EU Member States and in the institutions European.

The cited document also states: "Parliament considers that EU bodies, such as Europol, play an important role in investigating corruption and gathering evidence, but that the requirement for national approval of Europol's involvement is an obstacle; calls for Europol's mandate to be strengthened to enable it to investigate cases of corruption; underlines the importance that Europol's supervision is guaranteed at the EU level, (...); stresses that money laundering and corruption are intrinsically linked, with money laundering being one of the most important contributors to the illegal activities of organized crime and therefore an attack on the rule of law through which criminals transfer the proceeds of crime into the legal economy; is aware that fraud against the EU budget can also be a precursor to money laundering; reaffirms its firm belief that only by strengthening the EU's anti-fraud architecture and increasing transparency in the European institutions can the protection of the EU's financial interests be effectively and efficiently pursued and strengthened, overcoming the inherent limitations of national systems that are insufficient to counter increasingly many transnational attacks on the financial interests of the Union".

Parliament criticizes the European Commission's lack of action against the member states that abused the Pegasus program

The draft resolution has two important chapters on the media: media pluralism and freedom of the press and protection of journalists.

Regarding media pluralism and press freedom, MEPs state that media regulatory authorities are insufficiently protected against undue political influence by the governments of Hungary, Slovenia and Poland, and that the authorities lack resources - in Greece and Romania (ed. - it's about the National Broadcasting Council). The cited document also states that "transparency of media ownership is the basic minimum to maintain media pluralism" and that, while Luxembourg, Slovenia, Germany, Estonia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have taken initiatives to strengthen legal guarantees or means budget in order to ensure the independence of national public service broadcasters, although Cyprus, Ireland and Sweden are debating the respective measures, the central authorities in Romania, Malta, Poland and Hungary do not seem willing to take any measures in this regard.

Regarding the protection of journalists, the draft resolution expresses the European Parliament's concern about the deliberate attempts by several governments and economic powers to silence investigative journalists and shows that interference, undue pressure, fear and self-censorship have a negative effect on journalists' freedom of expression. MEPs call on authorities in EU member states to adopt domestic measures to protect journalists and human rights defenders from patently unfounded or abusive legal proceedings, and say this can be done by removing prison sentences for defamation cases, by decriminalizing defamation and favoring civil or administrative procedures.

The draft resolution condemns the illegal surveillance of journalists, particularly through spyware, and states that the European Parliament is dismayed by the Commission's refusal to implement all the recommendations of the Pegasus Special Inquiry Committee and considers this a lack of action on the part of the in Brussels. MEPs are unhappy that none of the many cases of illegal prosecution of journalists, activists, politicians, lawyers and other political targets have been brought to justice and conclude that many national authorities are neither willing nor able to tackle the problem, leaving the victims without an effective remedy and democracy unprotected. Moreover, the European Parliament expresses its concern about the impunity of the authorities who abused the use of spyware against journalists and shows that this illegitimate use by the governments of the EU member states directly and indirectly affects the integrity of the decision-making process, thus undermining European democracy.