European Public Prosecutor's Office now has 22 members

Despite its initial hesitance Malta has joined the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) as the 22nd member, the European Commission announced on Tuesday. The addition of a new country comes only a week after the Netherlands joined the EPPO created to step up efforts to protect the EU budget against fraud. Hungary chose not to become a member.
Vera Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Gender Equality and Consumers, said she was “very pleased" to receive Malta as a member of the EPPO, noting that a month ago, Maltese authorities reaffirmed to her their will to fight crimes against the EU budget.

We can do this together through the EPPO. This is why I urge all remaining Member States to join in. The more Member States participate in the EPPO, the stronger the Office will be

, said Jourová.

The EPPO will play a key role in fighting crimes against the EU budget such as fraud, corruption, money laundering or serious cross-border VAT fraud above EUR 10 million.

It will be operational by the end of 2020 in all participating EU Member States. Member States that have not yet chosen to participate in the European Public Prosecutor's Office can join at any time after the adoption of the Regulation, if they wish to do so.

The following EU countries are already participating to the EPPO: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Slovenia.

Hungary chose against taking part in this particular co-operation, arguing that the institutions having the power to fight such crimes are already in place and setting up a new office with the same objective would only weaken the functioning of the existing institutions.

Poland and Sweden also signalled that in its current form they cannot back the establishment of the EPPO. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom (which is to leave the EU in 2019 in any case) are not even part of the co-operation in this particular area of justice and home affairs.

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