EU - Council, new rules for financial interests
The Council adopted a directive on the protection of the financial interests of the EU.
On 25 April 2017, the Council adopted a directive on the protection of the financial interests of the EU (PIF Directive). This will improve the prosecution and sanctioning of crimes against EU finances, and facilitate the recovery of misused EU funds. These common rules will help to ensure a level playing field and improved investigation and prosecution across the EU.
The directive will also be a major part of the law to be applied by the future European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) which is to be created by a number of member states through enhanced cooperation. Owen Bonnici, minister for Justice of Malta said: "The protection of the EU budget is key to ensuring the most efficient and effective use of European taxpayers' money. Having common definitions, common rules, and common minimum sanctions is a step forward for fighting fraud across the EU. This directive will be an important tool for the new European Public Prosecutor's Office".
The directive provides common definitions of a number of offences against the EU budget. Those offences include cases of fraud and other related crimes such as active and passive corruption, the misappropriation of funds, money laundering, amongst others. Serious cases of cross border VAT fraud will also be included in the scope of the directive when above a threshold of €10 million.
The directive finally includes minimum rules on prescription periods, within which the case must be investigated and prosecuted, as well as minimum rules on sanctions, including imprisonment for the most serious cases.
Once voted by the Parliament, the directive will be published in the Official Journal and member states have 24 months to implement the provisions at national level.
Ireland has notified its wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Directive. The United Kingdom and Denmark are not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and are not bound by it.