9 February 2021

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The Good Lobby Demands Greater Transparency on EPPO Nominations

Last September, the first College of the European Public Prosecutor's Office was sworn in to prosecute cases of financial mismanagement of EU funds. Member states were asked to provide three candidates, who were then assessed by an independent committee, with the ultimate decision belonging to the Council. While the Council mostly picked the candidates selected by the expert committee, Belgium, Bulgaria and Portugal departed from that ranking, without motivating their decision.

by The Good Lobby

The EPPO is composed of 22 national prosecutors from participating EU member states. It is of the utmost importance that they can judge their cases independently as they might concern financial mismanagement by national governments. 

 

By departing from the advice received by the expert committee, Belgium, Bulgaria and Portugal chose a different candidate out of the list of three they had provided earlier in the year. Their final picks were Yves Van Den Berge, Teodora Georgieva and José Guerra. While the Council has the last word on the appointment, not giving a motivation for their choice does not instill trust in the independence of the prosecutors.

 

Our Director, Professor Alberto Alemanno and Professor Laurent Pech filed a request for access to documents to the Council, as they believed it was in the best interest of European citizens to receive clarity on this issue. However, their request was ignored. An open letter in Euronews denouncing the appointment process by a larger group of academics was dismissed as a conspiracy by the Portuguese Prime Minister.

 

However, when it came to light that the Portuguese appointee had boosted his resumé unfairly, a scandal erupted. It then eventually landed on the radar of the political groups in the Parliament. The European People’s Party, the Socialists & Democrats, Renew Europe, the Greens and GUE have now united to ask the Council of the EU, made up of national ministers, to clarify their decision.

 

The Outcome

 

Should the Council ignore such a request too, the Parliament may challenge the Council’s rejection to provide the actual decision documents before the European Court of Justice. The CJEU will then be asked to make the final call over whether the appointment process was fair and transparent, with the possibility of annulling the appointments. Moreover, the Belgian candidate who was excluded is already challenging the Council decision before the CJEU. In the meantime, The Good Lobby will continue to monitor the situation and its network of academics remain ready to hold the Council and its member states accountable.