Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  395 / 450 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 395 / 450 Next Page
Page Background

Democratic Implications of the Treaty of Lisbon


have exclusive competence to investigate and prosecute EU fraud,

thereby excluding any prosecutorial discretion at national level. In

other words, the EU prosecutor alone will be able to investigate

and prosecute offences without the involvement of Member States

(Nielsen, 2013b). This is problematic given that many offences

affecting the financial interests of the EU are situated at national

level and linked to other types of fraud or criminality (Franssen,

2013). Once created, however, the EPPO would have powers to

search premises, seize objects, and intercept phone conversations.

The image of an EU prosecutor coming to “search people’s homes,

probe their computers, seize objects, intercept telephone

conversations, and freeze financial transactions” (Nielsen, 2014)

raised alarms among national parliaments. There is also fear that

the practice would spill over to other crimes that are by nature

transnational. In that case, there would emerge a continent-wide

criminal justice system. Even the head of the EU’s anti-fraud office

(OLAF) worries that such an expansion of power would prove


Considering that criminal law is primarily a national

competence, national parliaments were reluctant to support the

Commission’s proposal, pointing out that the Commission had not

adequately considered the option of strengthening existing (e.g.

Eurojust, OLAF) or alternative mechanisms. Stressing that the

Commission has failed to substantiate the need, as well as the

added value of the EPPO, the national parliamentarians argued

that protection of the EU financial interests could be better

obtained by strengthening and deepening existing mechanisms of

cross-border cooperation between criminal justice authorities

(Nielsen, 2013b).

The Commission’s first reaction to this yellow card was to

point out that “it is the Commission that decides if there has been a

yellow card or not and what would be the consequences” (Nielsen,

2013c). Then the Commission decided to dismiss the so-called

yellow card. After replying to national parliaments that “the