The European Attorney General, Laura Kövesi, demanded this Thursday from the Spanish authorities more personnel to be able to carry out investigations of fraud or corruption of Europeans within Spanish territory, such as police officers, prosecutors and investigators.
In a hearing before the European Parliament’s Regional Development Committee, the head of the European Fraud Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) praised the fact that the Spanish anti-corruption model brings together prosecutors, police officers and financial investigators, but asked to be able to replicate it in the Spanish branch of the body he directs.
“It is a very good model, but the problem is that Spain does not want to implement its own model in the EPPO in Spain because it does not allow the EPPO in Spain to have its own police officers and we ask for it,” Kövesi said.
The European attorney general – who also cited Spain among countries that do not give the EPPO “immediate” access to their databases – said this problem with staff is an “example” of what is found in its dealings with member states, with whom they are “in contact” to “resolve” these impediments. Cooperation with national authorities, he explained, is “like in a marriage”, because “sometimes there are good days and bad days”: “Some Member States were very cooperative from the beginning and with some we had to argue more and more” .
In this context, he argued that in order to be “more efficient” it is necessary to create a team of investigators who work on the cases that are the responsibility of the EPPO and that this also implies that they can have access to the “relevant national databases”, among others. Issues Kövesi stressed that the problem with personnel is the same as that faced in the field of customs and tax administration, because governments communicate that they do not have “sufficient resources” to cede to the EPPO.
Along these lines, he recalled that “year after year” countries lose income due to VAT fraud that could be recovered for national budgets if governments provided staff to the EPPO. “For me it is very difficult to understand why they do not agree to give us five or ten police officers or tax administration officials to work on EPPO cases,” the European Attorney General remarked before the MEPs.