The European Chief Prosecutor Ms Laura Kövesi invited the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Drago Šketa, to the EPPO’s central office in Luxembourg to get better acquainted with the EPPO’s operational activities and the support provided to European Delegated Prosecutors. This visit took place today, in the context of extremely worrying press reports about developments, which might affect the efficient functioning of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Slovenia.
Apart from discussing a combination of measures including budgetary restrictions and the suspension of appointments to prosecutorial positions, the European Chief Prosecutor and the Deputy European Chief Prosecutors, Mr Andrés Ritter and Mr Danilo Ceccarelli, inquired about the implications of recent legislative changes or legislative proposals, which affect or could affect also the work of the EPPO.
In particular, both parties discussed the potential implications of the recently proposed amendment to criminal law rules on the statute of limitation, currently under examination by the Slovenian Parliament under an expedited procedure. Should the amendment be adopted as proposed, for the vast majority of offences under the competence of the EPPO, prosecutors would have drastically less time to investigate, and thus would be unable to do it properly in all cases, while many ongoing cases would need to be closed immediately and definitively. In practice, under the current criminal procedural framework, this would represent a de facto amnesty for many cases of fraud against the EU budget in Slovenia. The European Chief Prosecutor also noted with utmost concern that such an amendment would negatively affect investigations and prosecutions initiated in other Member States participating in the EPPO, under which assisting measures would need to be performed in Slovenia.
The European Chief Prosecutor concluded that the ongoing developments testify to a clear and persisting intention to hamper the effectiveness of criminal prosecution of cases of fraud in Slovenia, including tax fraud, tax evasion and corruption.
Consequently, the European Chief Prosecutor has addressed a letter to the European Commission in line with Recital 16 of Regulation (EU) 2020/2092 of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union Budget.