DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.
Carl Dolan is director of the Transparency International EU office in Brussels.
This article is part of our series of opinion pieces on transparency in the EU.
Imagine FBI agent Jonny Utah chasing bank robbers across the beaches and surf of Portugal, or a cagey Donnie Brasco undercover on the mean streets of Milan, or countless other Hollywood incarnations of the FBI set on European shores. Perhaps a little tricky given that we currently don’t have anything remotely close to the FBI at the EU level, at least not yet.
However, European cinema fans hoping for more crime thrillers closer to home should be buoyed by the news that the EU has finally agreed to establish the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). An EU FBI it is not, but the EPPO will be an independent EU body which can investigate and prosecute cases of EU fraud and other crimes against the Union’s financial interests.
The EPPO is long overdue. The idea first appeared in the Lisbon Treaty back in 2007, but there has not been much political appetite to actually implement it until now. At Transparency International EU we have been calling for an EPPO for almost as long, led by the conviction that this will strengthen the fight against corruption through increasing the number of corruption cases in domestic courts.
While only 20 EU member states have agreed to join this initiative, it is not an all-EU body, but it’s a step in the right direction. The EPPO will help the EU more effectively fight corruption, not only by directly prosecuting cases, but also through a stronger deterrence effect. It should further strengthen the fight against corruption in EU member states and increase the accountability of EU governments.