The Treaty of Lisbon provided for a significant increase of EU engagement in the field of criminal justice. One of the most important novelties introduced by the Treaty is now contained in Art. 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This provides for the possibility of setting up a European Public Prosecutor´s Office (EPPO) “for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment [...] the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, offences against the Union's financial interests”. Art. 86 TFEU is a remarkable development and is the result of nearly fifteen years of continuous efforts on side of the Community institutions to provide for the adequate protection of the EU´s financial interests.
Art. 86 TFEU simply creates a general framework for setting up a EPPO, leaving the detailed arrangements to be determined by regulations.
From the first half of 2010 onwards, a series of three projects has been conducted at the University of Luxembourg with the financial support of the EU Commission under the responsibility of Professor Katalin Ligeti. A group of European criminal law experts has examined in detail current public prosecution systems in the Member States and has scrutinised proposals for a procedural framework for the EPPO.
The objective of the first of these projects was to thoroughly analyse the twenty seven different national legal systems of investigation and prosecution, both as regards the attribution of investigative powers as regards procedural safeguards and evidential standards. The study of the national systems serves as a source of reference for the European model rules. As well as the comparative analysis of the national laws of the EU Member States, this first project also contained a series of cross-cutting studies of key issues which will play a role when establishing the European Public Prosecutor´s Office. These include studies of vertical cooperation in administrative investigations in subsidy and competition cases, the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights, judicial control in cooperation in criminal matters, mutual recognition, and decentralised enforcement of European competition law.
The two further studies, “EU model rules of criminal investigation and prosecution" and “EU model rules of evidence and procedural safeguards”, aimed to elaborate a draft set of European model rules of criminal procedure for the EPPO. These draft rules reflect a synthesis of the different legal traditions of the EU Member States. They delineate the powers of a European office, the applicable procedural safeguards and the evidential standards. The model rules together with an explanatory memorandum are available on this webpage in English and French.
The materials from the projects as well as the final report, written by Professor Ligeti summarising the findings of the group and reporting on the prospects for the proposed reform, will be published in Katalin Ligeti (ed.): Toward a Prosecutor for the European Union. Vol. 1: A comparative analysis (forthcoming 2012), Vol. 2: Draft Rules of procedure (forthcoming 2013), Hart Publishing, Oxford.