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Poland joins the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. There is a decision of the Commission

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On Thursday, the European Commission decided on Poland’s participation in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. – Now we have to choose a Polish representative – said Jacek Bilewicz, acting national prosecutor. – This is great news for Poland, this is great news for Europe – said Deputy Minister of Justice Krzysztof Śmiszek. He added that thanks to this, Polish prosecutors will be included in the system of protecting the financial interests of the European Union.

European Commission adopted on Thursday a decision confirming Poland’s participation in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). Following a request from Poland to the Commission, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be competent to investigate and prosecute crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union committed in Poland after June 1, 2021.

Poland will become part of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office on the date the Commission’s decision enters into force. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be able to start operations and investigations in Poland 20 days after the Council appoints a European Prosecutor from Poland.

– I am very happy with today’s decision of the European Commission. There is no doubt that full cooperation within the EPPO will be beneficial both for Poland and the financial interests of the European Union, said Jacek Bilewicz, acting national prosecutor. – Now it’s waiting for us choice Polish representative to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, i.e. the Polish European Prosecutor – added Bilewicz.

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On January 5 this year, Poland submitted a formal notification to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union about joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. It was one of the first decisions of the Minister of Justice Adam Bodnar.

Bodnar announced that ultimately there will be 24 European prosecutors in Poland, who will be district prosecutors. They will operate in three or four offices of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – one in Warsaw and the others in other cities in the country.

Śmiszek: Sweden and Ireland followed suit

– This is great news for Poland, this is great news for Europe, Poland is one of the last countries to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which means that Polish prosecutors will be included in the entire system of protecting the financial interests of the European Union – commented Deputy Minister of Justice Krzysztof Śmiszek.

He added that “it was completely incomprehensible to withhold our accession to this important structure.” The European Public Prosecutor’s Office began operating on June 1, 2021. At that time, Poland was one of five countries that did not join the EPPO. The Polish authorities at that time took the position that the regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office was not binding on Poland and would not be directly applicable.

Śmiszek emphasized that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is a mechanism that “leads to even better cooperation in detecting cross-border crimes to the detriment of the budgets of European Union countries.” – I am very proud that right after Poland announced its willingness to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, it followed suit Sweden and Ireland – added the deputy minister.

When asked what Poland’s accession to EPPO would change, the deputy head of the Ministry of Justice said that Polish “prosecutors will be European prosecutors and will have access to databases (EPPO – ed.)”. According to him, international cooperation “will be even easier, which will certainly translate into even better protection against fraud and VAT fraud.”

– Of course, after this decision of the European Commission, we will start the process of selecting the European Prosecutor delegated to Luxembourg. Specific offices of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will also be established in Poland. We will inform you about this in the coming weeks, said Śmiszek.

European Public Prosecutor’s Office

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which began operations on June 1, 2021, investigates crimes related to fraud, corruption, money laundering and serious cross-border fraud VAT for an amount above EUR 10 million. When it started operating, 22 EU countries joined the EPPO, and the remaining five – Sweden, HungaryPoland, Ireland and Denmark – could join at any time.

Headquarters of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office Uwe Aranas / Shutterstock.com

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office is an office with a two-tier structure. The strategic division consists of the European Attorney General responsible for managing the EPPO and organizing its work, and the College of Prosecutors responsible for making decisions on strategic issues. The operational division consists of: European delegated prosecutors responsible for conducting preparatory proceedings and prosecutions, and permanent chambers that monitor and give direction to preparatory proceedings and make operational decisions.

European Attorney General: Poland will be stronger

European Attorney General Laura Kovesi said in January during a visit to Poland that Poland would be one of the most important “elements of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.” – I have heard many times that Poland joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office means that Poland will lose part of its sovereignty. These are fairy tales for children. From my point of view, this means that Poland will be stronger. We will fight financial crime and organized crime, Kovesi said.

She also emphasized that there are no countries completely free of corruption, financial crimes and VAT fraud. – If someone thinks that they can fight corruption alone, it is a very dangerous illusion – she added.

She explained that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office opens investigations if the damage is estimated at more than EUR 10 million and if there are links between more than one EU country. Europol (the EU’s police agency) estimates that the EU loses €50 billion annually as a result of VAT crimes.

Main photo source: Uwe Aranas / Shutterstock.com



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