Romania’s Justice Ministry (MJ) has explained that it can send only 10 delegated prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), emphasising that the information and statements publicly carried that Romania would block the process of establishing the number of European prosecutors is not grounded.
“The procedure for establishing the number of Romanian prosecutors delegated to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) was initiated at the end of 2019, with the Ministry of Justice being the first to initiate a dialogue with the European Public Prosecutor (EPP) on this matter in a letter from the minister of justice of November 8, 2019. The procedure for determining the number of prosecutors involves a dialogue between each relevant national authority in each EU member state and the EPP. The procedure is still ongoing both between the Romanian Ministry of Justice and the EPP, and between other ministries of justice from other member states and the EPP. The information and statements publicly carried that Romania would block the process of establishing the number of European prosecutors are not grounded in reality,” reads a Justice Ministry press statement released on Wednesday.
According to the statement, Romania recommended 10 prosecutors and 20 support specialists (police, auxiliary staff, etc.) after conducting thorough and detailed consultations with both the Prosecutor’s Office with the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation and the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA).
“The Ministry of Justice organised and conducted consultations (in a videoconference system) of these institutions with EPP based on an assessment of the number of cases, procedural stages of most of these cases and their complexity. The proposed number of 10 prosecutors was also established in accordance with the operational needs of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), DNA, designated as a support unit of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, in perfect resonance with the positions of almost all national justice ministries of the EU member states expressed at the JHA meeting of January 2020 in Zagreb in the sense of supporting the gradual operationalisation of the European Public Prosecutor ‘s Office and the expansion of its capacity as progress is made.”
As a guide, as the number of delegated prosecutors, in relation to the unofficial and non-definitive figures carried so far (the consultation process is still ongoing), Romania ranks 5th, with a number of 10 prosecutors, with most states recommending two prosecutors, with the exception of six-eight states, including Romania, which proposes a number of 5, 10, 11, 14 and 20 prosecutors (two states), respectively.
“The Ministry of Justice reiterates that the consultation process is under way with most of the relevant authorities in the other member states and expresses its hope that the public positions adopted by various political actors on this matter will be based on a careful analysis of the real situation in relation to the peculiarities of each country and rigorous statistics.”
G4Media reported on Wednesday that EPPO had asked Romania to send 20-30 delegate prosecutors to investigate the EU fund frauds, but that the Justice Ministry had replied it accepted to send only 10 prosecutors.
In an interview to Politico this summer, the chief of EPPO, Laura Codruta Kovesi had said that EPPO would have to take over 300 cases in the first instance, and that the Prosecutor’s Office would need at least 140 European delegate prosecutors for them.
In another interview for El Pais, Kovesi stated: “We are dealing with complex cases, related to investigations of powerful, rich people. That’s why, it is very important for EPPO to be an independent institution”.