FIDE 2021: speech by European Chief Prosecutor and concluding remarks by President Lenaerts
In the last session of the FIDE 2021 Congress, European Delegated Prosecutor Laura Codruța Kövesi delivered an address on the recently created European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which was followed by some concluding remarks by CJEU President Lenaerts and an official closing speech by Corinna Wissels, president of the Congress.
Ms. Kövesi started off by describing the EPPO as an independent organ of the European judiciary rather than a simple coordinating agency or network. She noted that its competences are the result of a transfer of sovereignty from the Member States, which give it full prosecutorial powers as well as full independence from the judicial system of each Member State. In addition to the transfer of competences, she also pointed out that many national cases have also been transferred to the EPPO, which are currently under review.
She further stressed that in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity under EU law, the EPPO is more efficient in dealing with EU-wide financial fraud cases, in spite of the structure of the agency (a single office for 22 different legal systems). However, the prosecutorial policy that EPPO will follow, at least initially, will be focused on the cases where serious fraud is involved, and according to Ms. Kövesi, will generate groundbreaking case-law from the Court of Justice.
President Lenaerts recalled FIDE as a successful forum bringing together ‘the bar, the bench and academia’, and conceded that some discussions inevitably lead to an ‘agreement to disagree’, and that what is important is asking the right questions. However, he stressed that there is a limit to this in EU law, and that no disagreement can take place on the EU’s core values under Article 2 TEU and the Charter, which are not limited to rule of law issues.
In this sense, he drew a parallel between the US Bill of Rights and the Charter and their attempts to produce common, unifying standards vis-à-vis State law and national law, respectively. He noted how, in the US, fundamental disagreements on a common standard of values eventually lead to a civil war, the result of which was the prevalence of a common federal standard that preempted the continuation of slavery. He stressed that, in the case of the EU, a common standard with regard to its fundamental values also needs to be developed, and in that sense, recalled that both the Commission and Member States must play their respective roles to ensure that judgments implementing EU values are respected.
The 2021 FIDE Congress formally came to an end after a presentation of the future 2023 Congress, which will take place in Sofia (Bulgaria), together with concluding remarks by Corinna Wissels.