Former Romanian anti-graft prosecutor, Laura Codruta Kovesi, will head the new European Prosecutor’s Office.
The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament made up of the EP President David Sassoli and the political group leaders, endorsed on Wednesday Laura Codruţa Kövesi’s appointment as the first head of the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The decision by the Conference of Presidents follows an agreement in September between Parliament and the Council negotiators on the new European Chief Prosecutor. Parliament’s negotiating team backed Ms Kövesi throughout the negotiations. Following her confirmation Wednesday, Ms Kövesi will start her seven-year mandate. The Council endorsed the deal earlier this week.
The EPPO, which is expected to be operational at the end of 2020, will be an independent office in charge of investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption or cross-border VAT fraud above 10 million euros. The list of crimes could be extended in the future to include, for example, terrorism. So far, 22 member states have joined the EPPO. The five countries that currently do not participate - Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Denmark - could join at any time. The EPPO central office will be based in Luxembourg, along with the Chief Prosecutor and a College of Prosecutors from all participating countries. They will head the day-to-day criminal investigations carried out by the delegated prosecutors in all participating member states.
The spearhead of the fight against corruption in Romania and the head of an abusive system for others, Ms Kovesi has been frequently viewed as the strongest woman in Romania. In the last five years alone, under her leadership, the National Anti-Corruption Directorate prosecuted 14 ministers and former ministers and 53 MPs. Of them, 27 received definitive sentences. Shortly before being dismissed, in June 2018, by president Klaus Iohannis, following a definitive ruling of the Constitutional Court, Ms Kovesi confessed at a conference in New York that the biggest challenge for Romania has been to preserve the independence of judges and prosecutors.
“There have been constant attempts to modify the anti-corruption legislation in order to limit the legislative instruments used by the anti-corruption prosecutors or to decriminalize some offenses. There have been cases when lifting of the immunity of politicians suspected of corruption was denied,” Laura Codruta Kovesi said when she presented the situation of the past few years when left-of-centre leaders were accused of attempting to block the fight against corruption and subordinate magistrates.
According to Ms Kovesi, her appointment as European Chief Prosecutor is also the victory of her fellow Romanians, who, through civic implication and street protests have constantly supported her and have followed the advice she gave on the day of her dismissal: “Don't give up! Corruption can be defeated!”
(Translated by Elena Enache)