The European Parliament and EU Council negotiators agreed on appointing Romanian Laura Codruţa Kövesi as the first head of the new EU Public Prosecutor’s Office, the European Parliament announced on Tuesday Evening, September 24.
The negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the new European Chief Prosecutor to lead the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) have been ongoing since last spring. The Parliament’s negotiating team has backed Kövesi throughout the negotiations, despite opposition from the Council until now. The EU Council reconsidered its position and voted to support the Romanian last week after France withdrew support for its candidate, Jean-François Bohnert, who was the Council’s first choice for EU Chief Prosecutor.
“Ms Kövesi is the perfect choice to become EU Chief Prosecutor. She has excellent professional competences. Moreover, Romania does not currently hold any key posts in the EU. She will be one of the strong women leading in the EU from now on,” said the EP’s Civil Liberties Committee Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar, after the agreement with the Council negotiators on Tuesday evening.
"We are very pleased that Ms Laura Kövesi will be leading the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office. She corresponds best to the European Parliament’s vision of a strong and credible EPPO. Ms Kövesi is extremely competent, with an impressive record of achievements in fighting corruption with remarkable resilience and great courage,” added Budget Control Committee Chair Monika Hohlmeier.
The agreement on the appointment of Laura Codruta Kövesi as European Chief Prosecutor now needs to be formally approved by the Parliament and the Council.
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.
Laura Codruta Kovesi, 46, was the first woman to become Romania’s general prosecutor as well as the youngest general prosecutor. In May 2013, she was appointed chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), a special prosecution unit specialized in investigating top-level corruption cases. Under her management, the DNA initiated hundreds of investigations targeting top officials. In June 2014, DNA obtained a 4-year final jail conviction against former prime minister Adrian Nastase. Kovesi was dismissed from DNA's helm in June 2018 following a request by former justice minister Tudorel Toader, after she opposed the Social Democratic Party's initiatives to change sensitive legislation in the field of justice. The PSD Government led by Viorica Dancila voted against Kovesi in the EU Council this spring.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea)