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Bruxelles, 8 October 2012
Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta welcomes trilogue agreement by Council and Parliament on OLAF reform
"Today's agreement on the reform of OLAF will ensure that the EU's central player in the fight against fraud works to its full potential. Greater efficiency and clearer accountability are the pillars upon which this reform rests, while OLAF's investigative independence will continue to be fully upheld. Every citizen in Europe will benefit from a stronger EU anti-fraud office to protect taxpayers' money," said Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner responsible for anti-fraud.
"This reform is also an important step in preparing the ground for a European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO), which the Commission intends to propose next year. It means that the EPPO will, from its inception, be able to rely on investigations of the highest standard when tackling crimes against the EU's financial interests.
I would like to particularly acknowledge Mrs Graessle, the European Parliament's rapporteur, for the commitment and dedication that she has shown on this file. I would also like to thank the Danish and Cyprus Presidencies, for the efforts they made in pushing us towards this agreement. The good collaboration and hard work on all sides has now paid off."
An important aspect of the OLAF reform agreed today is the strengthening of the procedural guarantees (i.e. respect of fundamental rights) for any person under investigation by OLAF. It has been clarified that all persons must be made aware of their rights when they are under investigation. These include the right for the person to have a summary of the issue under investigation and to make their views known before conclusions are drawn up, the right to be assisted by a person of his/her choice and the right to use the EU official language of their choice. The Supervisory Committee will continue to monitor OLAF's activities, ensuring that its investigations are carried out in full independence.
The OLAF reform will intensify cooperation between OLAF and Member State authorities and provide for greater information exchange on cases and the related prosecutions. Each Member State is asked to designate a contact point, which would facilitate the cooperation of national authorities with OLAF. In addition, Member States should report, upon request, on the measures they have taken in response to OLAF's case reports. It is expected that this closer cooperation should facilitate, amongst other things, better judicial follow-up by all Member States on OLAF investigations.
Stricter conditions are foreseen to make OLAF more efficient in its own work. For example, if an investigation is not completed within 12 months, OLAF should inform the Supervisory Committee of why it needs an extension of this deadline. OLAF's Director General will continue to be ultimately responsible for deciding which investigations OLAF carries out.
The reform of OLAF will safeguard its full independence in its investigations. At the same time, provision is made for closer cooperation and better information exchange between the Anti-Fraud Office and the EU institutions, in order to ensure the best possible protection of the EU’s financial interests. A flexible procedure for the exchange of views between OLAF and the European Commission, Parliament and Council is laid down. The aim is to allow the institutions to discuss the effectiveness of the work being carried out by the Office, and ensure that the institutions and Member States are playing their part loyally in supporting OLAF's work.
Cooperation between OLAF and international organisations and third country authorities should also be reinforced, and OLAF will be mandated to conclude administrative arrangements with competent services in third countries, in coordination with the European External Action Service and the relevant Commission services.
Cooperation with the European Police Office (Europol) and the EU’s judicial cooperation unit (Eurojust) is equally important and OLAF will also be given the mandate to conclude administrative arrangements with these two organisations.
The Regulation will be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in the coming months, and will enter into force 20 days later.
For OLAF website: http://ec.europa.eu/anti_fraud/index_en.htm
For Commissioner Šemeta's website, click here: