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Establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office: Financial Accountability in an Evolving Multi-level Setting

Hartmut Aden

Several institutions are jointly carrying the responsibility for financial management and accountability in the EU multi-level system. Due to the shared management of the major EU funds (structural and agricultural funds), not only European institutions, but also Member States' institutions are involved. The European Commission and the Member States' administrations are responsible for the implementation of the EU budget including internal auditing. The European Court of Auditors (ECA), supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in the Member States and sometime sub-national audit-institutions are exerting independent audit tasks. In cases of irregularities or fraud, the Office de Lutte Anti-Fraude (OLAF) can intervene; in cases of criminal offenses, in cooperation with the judicial authorities of the Member States. In order to "combat crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union" (Article 86 (1) TFEU), the Treaty of Lisbon made the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office derived "from Eurojust" a possibility. The European Commission (COM(2013) 534 final) has proposed a regulation to establish this new institution that has been under discussion since 2013. The final phase of the negations has been dominated by the attempt to have "on board" as many Member States as possible.The paper discusses answers to the research question of how the relationship between the different European and domestic institutional actors involved in the EU multi-level financial accountability system is evolving in the framework established by the Treaty of Lisbon. From a trans-disciplinary legal, political and administrative science perspective, the paper asks if financial accountability will become more effective in the new institutional context and how far the effectiveness of the new institutional setting has been hampered by compromises made during the negotiation stage.



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