Proposed changes to the EU’s Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) will not make its investigations more effective, according to auditors.
The European Court of Auditors says that while proposals reflect well the intended cooperation between OLAF and the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) issues such as the timeliness of asset recovery could hamper effective collaboration between the two bodies.
Auditors praised praise OLAF’s new competencies, including those on VAT fraud, admissibility of collected evidence as well as the ability to access bank account information, however, they recommended that OLAF’s investigations be reviewed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to ensure procedural safeguards are adhered to.
They also claim that proposals to not solve the ongoing issues of the effectiveness of OLAF’s administrative investigations.
Furthermore, auditors said a schedule of further reform of OLAF as well as a list of clear issues to be addressed are currently lacking.
Eva Lindström, the auditor responsible for the report, said in a statement: “Increasing the effectiveness of its investigations remain challenging issues for OLAF, “As it stands, the proposed reform of OLAF does not guarantee that the protection of the EU financial interests will be effectively strengthened”.
Lindström also pointed out that the bodies do not have a good enough solution for dealing with investigating criminal offences that affect the EU’s financial interests which concern Member States that refuse to participate in the EPPO.
Auditors also published its opinion on the EU’s plans for its future fraud programme. They questioned the value of the programme and said there is a risk of overlap and a lack of synergies between programmes funded to effectively do the same thing as one another.