The President of Eurojust, Ms Michéle Coninsx, was invited to speak at a public hearing on The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit convened by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on 24 May 2016.
Opening statements were given by the Chair of the LIBE Committee, Mr Claude Moraes, and, for the EU Council Presidency, Deputy Director-General for the Administration of Justice and Law Enforcement, Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands, Mr Arie IJzerman.
The hearing addressed three topics: The competences of the EPPO: tackling effectively PIF crimes; EPPO: judicial review; and Enhancing Eurojust and the relations between EPPO, Eurojust and OLAF. Ms Coninsx participated in the third session, as did OLAF’s Director General, Mr Giovanni Kessler. The session was moderated by the MEP and Rapporteur on the draft Eurojust Regulation, Mr Axel Voss.
Ms Coninsx presented Eurojust’s views on enhancing Eurojust and relations between the EPPO and Eurojust, underlining the need for full consistency between the instruments governing Eurojust, Europol and the EPPO. Eurojust welcomes the Council’s general approach on the draft Eurojust Regulation as further improvement of the Commission’s proposal in several areas with only a few amendments needed to enhance Eurojust’s capabilities even more. Ms Coninsx asked for symmetrical and compatible provisions regulating the relationship between Eurojust and the EPPO to ensure legal certainty and consistency. She further pointed out that Eurojust’s support to the EPPO should not jeopardise Eurojust’s capacity to fulfil its task to fight serious organised cross-border crime, including terrorism, cybercrime and illegal immigrant smuggling.
Closing remarks were provided by Mr Voss, highlighting the need for clear rules on competences of the EPPO, Eurojust, OLAF and national authorities to be efficient and to avoid conflicts while leaving a certain amount of flexibility to make it work in practice. The MEP and Rapporteur on the EPPO, Ms Barbara Matera, said that she and Mr Voss would work together towards an eventually strong and efficient EPPO as well as a reformed, stronger Eurojust.
The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Ms Věra Jourová, stated that the Commission supports the way forward with the Eurojust Regulation to update and improve its functioning and sees the possibility to reach an agreement on the Eurojust Regulation by the end of this year, taking into account that the relations between Eurojust and the EPPO are in the process of being defined.
- On 17 July 2013, the European Commission presented a legislative package in the area of criminal justice cooperation, including a proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) and a proposal for a Regulation to reform Eurojust. The EPPO proposal is decided under the consent procedure (Article 86 TFEU), while the Eurojust proposal falls under co-decision (Article 85 TFEU). In accordance to Article 86 TFEU, the EPPO is to be established ‘from Eurojust’. The material competence of the EPPO is to be defined by the Directive on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law, which is not yet adopted.
- The Commission proposal on the reform of Eurojust aimed at improving efficiency, in terms of management and on the ground, of Eurojust's work, bringing up to date its data protection regime as well as increasing its democratic legitimacy. It also contained provisions related to future Eurojust support to the work of the EPPO. The Council general approach, which dates from 27 February 2015, brought about some changes to the Commission proposal, regarding powers of national members, managerial structure and data protection regime.
- The Council is currently working on the relations of the EPPO with third parties, non-participant Member States and other bodies of the European Union, such as OLAF and Eurojust, on data protection and on financial and staff provisions.