The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

At long last, Malta to join the European Public Prosecutor's Office

Friday, 9 March 2018, 18:40 Last update: about 3 years ago

Following years of wrangling, the government this evening announced that Malta will be signing onto the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has informed his fellow EU justice ministers that Malta is to formally submit its interest in joining.  The submission, Bonnici said, will be made in the coming months.

In 2013, Malta decided to opt out of the European Commission initiative aimed at improving the prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers by reinforcing the procedural guarantees of OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud office.

Bonnici, then a Parliamentary Secretary, had told Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee at the time that the government was in favour of the implementation of the EPPO, as long as the functions of the Attorney-General would not be weakened as a result.

Short of signing on to the EPPO, only national authorities can investigate and prosecute EU-fraud. Their competences stop at their national borders. Existing Union bodies (such as OLAF, Eurojust and Europol) do not have, and cannot be given, the mandate to conduct criminal investigations.

The EPPO fills this institutional gap, and has exclusive and EU-wide jurisdiction to deal with suspicions of criminal behaviour falling within its remit.

The EPPO is headed by a European Public Prosecutor. Its investigations are carried out by European Delegated Prosecutors located in each participating member state. The number of these delegated prosecutors will be left to member states, but they should have at least one.

The EPPO pools the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the member states and has uniform investigative powers throughout the Union, based on and integrated into the national legal systems of the member states.

Investigation measures that touch mostly on fundamental rights such as telephone interception will need prior authorisation by a national court and the EPPO's investigations will be subject to judicial review by the national courts. 


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