PIF crimes

Fraud affecting the financial interests of the European Union (PIF)

Crimes against the financial interests of the European Union (PIF crimes, as defined in Directive (EU) 2017/1371) not only affect the Union’s financial interests but they also harm its reputation and credibility. These crimes include fraud related to the EU budget, large scale VAT fraud affecting two or more Member States, corruption, misappropriation of assets committed by a public official, and money laundering involving property derived from these crimes.

Eurojust has established and maintains close relations with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to investigate these types of crime. OLAF is a body of the European Union dedicated to conducting (external and internal) independent administrative investigations into fraud, corruption and irregularities involving EU funds and developing EU-wide policies to counter fraud.

Eurojust is also developing a framework of cooperation with the recently established European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The EPPO will be an independent, decentralised prosecution office of the European Union with a mandate to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes affecting the EU budget committed in the 22 Member States that are participating in it. Eurojust and the EPPO will conclude a working arrangement covering operational cooperation, institutional relations and administrative matters.

Eurojust’s cooperation with OLAF

Eurojust has established and maintains cooperative relations with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), with a view to enhancing the fight against fraud. OLAF and Eurojust have a different nature of tasks, but a close cooperation between the two bodies is essential as they both play a role in protecting the financial interests of the European Union by tackling fraud, corruption or any other criminal offence or illegal activities.

To this end, Eurojust and OLAF have concluded a cooperation agreement in 2008 and cooperate during cross-border criminal investigations related to fraud or other PIF crimes; for example, through the exchange of operational information, participation in operational meetings, the provision of mutual assistance and advice, and participation in joint investigation teams.

Specifically, the OLAF-Eurojust cooperation brings added value to cross-border cases supported by Eurojust through:

  • specialist knowledge with cases involving crimes against the financial interests of the European Union;
     
  • expertise provided by OLAF to judicial authorities;
     
  • evidence from OLAF administrative investigations for use within criminal cases; and
     
  • OLAF’s participation in joint investigation teams (JITs).

In return, Eurojust supports the work of OLAF by:

  • improving coordination and information flow between national prosecution and judicial authorities;
     
  • enhancing cooperation concerning the execution of international mutual legal assistance and mutual recognition instruments;
     
  • establishing contact with national authorities in other Member States or third States involved in a case;
     
  • organising coordination meetings and coordination centres to bring national authorities and OLAF together and to facilitate the possibilities for OLAF to share information and provide operational and analytical support to cross-border criminal cases;
     
  • identifying the relevant judicial authority competent to deal with a criminal investigation linked to an OLAF case;
     
  • assisting national authorities in possible judicial follow-up to OLAF recommendations; and
     
  • supporting the setting up and financing of JITs.

To facilitate their cooperation, quarterly meetings are organised between dedicated teams of Eurojust and OLAF, and a regular exchange of case referrals, case summaries and case-related information, as well as a follow-up on the progress made and the activities performed in the exchanged cases takes place. Further, study visits in the framework of the Eurojust-OLAF Exchange Programme are regularly organised and the President of Eurojust meets bi-annually with the Director General of OLAF to evaluate and reinforce collaboration.

Eurojust and OLAF are working together towards an increased exchange of information on complex cases to address the need for coordination of investigations and prosecutions. A recently established common system of secure communication facilitates the flow of information between the parties.

Eurojust’s cooperation with the EPPO

Eurojust is also developing a framework of cooperation with the recently established European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The EPPO is expected to become operational at the end of 2020. Eurojust and the EPPO, acting as two strong, equal and independent institutions with different mandates and tasks, will be privileged partners with a shared responsibility to protect the financial interests of the European Union. The EPPO will be a privileged partner to Eurojust with which a close relationship based on mutual cooperation will be established.

Eurojust will support and cooperate closely with the EPPO, based on trust and respect for each other’s mandates and competences and on the development of operational, administrative and management links. The specific provisions of Eurojust’s future relationship with the EPPO are outlined in Article 50 of the new Eurojust Regulation:

  • the President of Eurojust and the European Chief Prosecutor will meet regularly at each other’s request to discuss issues of common interest;
     
  • Eurojust will respond to requests for support from the EPPO without undue delay;
     
  • to support its cooperation with the EPPO, Eurojust will, whenever necessary, make use of the Eurojust national coordination system, as well as its relations with third countries, including Eurojust’s Liaison Magistrates;
     
  • Eurojust will inform the EPPO of relevant cross-border cases and associate it with its activities in operational matters relevant to the EPPO’s competences;
     
  • Eurojust and the EPPO will have indirect access to information in each other’s case management systems on the basis of a ‘hit/no-hit’ system; and
     
  • the EPPO may rely on the support and resources of the administration of Eurojust. To this end, Eurojust may provide services of common interest to the EPPO.

Eurojust and the EPPO will conclude a working arrangement covering operational cooperation (in particular outlining the practical details on the competence of each body), institutional relations and administrative matters.

Related tags:PIF crimes, EPPO, OLAF