When will the EPPO start investigating cases?

In several previous posts I have addressed issues related to the European Prosecutor’s Office, such as its institutional configuration, its launch and the adaptation of Spain.

We do not know when the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will begin to develop its functions. Article 120.2 of Regulation 2017/1939 instructs the European Commission to set the date for the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to assume the functions of investigating and exercising criminal proceedings. The Commission must act on a proposal from the European Chief Prosecutor once the European Prosecutor’s Office is created, by decision published in the OJEU and the date must be after 20 November 2020. That decision has not yet been taken. It is not clear which act constitutes ‘the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office’. The Chief Prosecutor was appointed by Decision (EU) 2019/1798 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 October 2019. The European Prosecutors, who make up the College of Prosecutors, were appointed by Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/1117 of Council of 27 July 2020. [Edited 2020/09/08] The College of European Public Prosecutors met for the first time on 7 September, but Member States have not yet completed the process of appointing their delegated prosecutors. We can safely assume that Laura Kövesi will not be able to propose a start date for investigations to the Commission until then.

This aspect is not trivial, as the Prosecutor’s Office is competent for crimes committed after the entry into force of Regulation 2017/1939. November 20, 2017 therefore means that time limitations start counting for the investigation of possible PIF crimes under the jurisdiction of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The later the EPPO starts working, the less time will remain for the investigation of the cases before they prescribe. The later it becomes operational, the more likely it is that assets from criminal activities under the PIF umbrella will be spent or lost.

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