Council implementing decision 14830/19 of 22 July 2020 on appointing the European Prosecutors of the EPPO states that for ‘candidates nominated by Belgium, Bulgaria and Portugal, Council did not follow the non-binding order of preference of the selection panel, on the basis of a different assessment of the merits of those candidates which was carried out in the relevant preparatory bodies of the Council’.
On 27 July 2020, Austria, Estonia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands published a statement that ‘competition between rankings of national selection panels and the ranking of the European selection panel must be avoided, at the risk of eroding the European component of the appointment procedure’.
On 28 September 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Monika Hohlmeier (PPE), Caterina Chinnici (S&D), Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel (Verts/ALE) and Sophia in ‘t Veld (RENEW) filed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.
MEPs enquired from the Commission “does it consider it a cause for concern that the Council did not follow the recommendations and rankings of the European selection panel regarding candidates nominated by Belgium, Bulgaria and Portugal?” and “does it consider it a cause for concern that the EPPO’s independence and capacity to work might be limited if national interests prevail in the selection of European prosecutors?”
In closing, MEPs asked the Commission “could it provide details of how it is involved in the selection process, and indicate whether it has been informed why the Council has decided not to follow the recommendations and rankings of the European selection panel regarding the candidates nominated by Belgium, Bulgaria and Portugal?”
On 26 November, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, Commissioner Reynders reported that “in accordance with Article 16(2) of Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939, the opinion of the selection panel is not binding on the Council, except if the panel finds that a candidate does not fulfil the conditions required by that regulation for the performance of the duties of European Prosecutor” and “since the selection panel did not find that any of the candidates nominated by Belgium, Bulgaria and Portugal failed to fulfil such conditions, the Commission does not consider it a cause for concern that the Council decided not to follow the ranking suggested by the selection panel”.
The Justice Commissioner clarified that “the Commission does not have any reason to consider that the independence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is jeopardised by the Council Decision at stake” and “one of the conditions taken into account by the selection panel for the appointment of candidates for the position of European Prosecutors is, indeed, that their independence is beyond doubt”.
“The Commission does not take part in the procedure of appointment of the European Prosecutors, which falls within the exclusive responsibility of the Council” and “as a consequence, it has not been informed by the Council of the reasons not to follow the opinion of the selection panel” concluded Reynders.
Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Public_Prosecutor