Romanian ex-anti corruption champion might become EU's first public prosecutor 

Romania's former anti-corruption chief Laura Codruța Kövesi refuted criticism from her own government on Tuesday, as she testified before a European parliamentary committee about her candidacy for EU public prosecutor.

Editorial Team
Jessica Sirotin NewsMavens, Europe
Romanian ex-anti corruption champion might become EU's first public prosecutor  - NewsMavens
Laura Codruța Kövesi, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

A European parliamentary committee also questioned two other candidates for the post of EU public prosecutor, Jean-François Bohnert of France and Andrés Ritter of Germany. Unlike her competition though, Kövesi does not have the backing of her government.

Kövesi was the former head of the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and her efforts  to fight corruption in the country were controversial. Although her critics accused her of authoritarianism, and falsification of records, she did win international praise for her efforts. Eventually she was accused of overstepping her authority by the ruling coalition and dismissed by President Iohannis.

"You have been exposed to a lot of negative information about me," Laura Codruța Kövesi said at the hearing. "I have absolutely nothing to hide."

Kövesi's also stressed that prosecutors will need a "strong moral compass" and pointed out her extensive experience in working under pressure. The EU public prosecutor will definitely be a high pressure job -- the prosecutor will be charged with handling highly politically sensitive cases, allowing the EU to take direct action when EU funds have been misused

Romanian EU parliamentary representatives have not been supportive of her candidacy and grilled her on her record during the hearing.

"The problem for Mrs. Kövesi was probably that her government campaigned against her and did not try to shore up support among member states, which is vital at the Council level," said one EU diplomat.

Details from the story:

  • It is hoped that the planned prosecution service will address the weaknesses of OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud agency, which currently investigates misuse of funds but cannot itself prosecute wrongdoers.
  • 22 EU countries will launch the European Public Prosecutor's Office by the end of 2020. The office will tackle highly politically sensitive cases, and allow the EU to take direct action in cases when EU funds are misused -- a role that was previously the domain of member states.
  • Experts appointed by the Council of the EU ranked Kövesi first among the candidates for the new post. However, a preliminary vote among EU ambassadors on Friday, was in favor of Bohnert, with 50 votes. Kövesi and Ritter received 29 votes each.
  • To be appointed, a candidate needs the support of both the Parliament and the Council.
  • Members of the Budgetary Control Committee, which took part in the session, selected Kövesi as their top choice for the post.
  • The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs will vote on Wednesday. The European Parliament's final decision will be agreed by senior MEPs, who will discuss the issue on March 7.

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