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22-05-2024 11:35

Welcome address by the Attorney-General of the Republic, George L. Savvides, at a workshop on the role of the European Public Prosecutor's Office in the criminal protection of the financial interests of the European Union

It is an honor and a privilege to welcome you all to this conference dedicated to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and focused on its role in safeguarding the financial interests of the European Union. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome to Cyprus for the second time, the European Chief Prosecutor Ms Laura Condruta Kovesi, whose leadership significantly contributes to the efforts of all competent authorities to combat financial crimes that undermine the integrity of the European Union.

This Conference is organized by the Academy of the Law Office in cooperation with the Cyprus Bar Association and the University of Cyprus. The Academy of the Law Office has been established as an in-house training Academy in October 2022 and has become fully operational in the year 2023. Over this short period of time, the Academy has either organized or co-organized more than 25 training activities, lectures and seminars.

Over the years, crime has had a profound evolution. Organized criminal groups now operate across borders, taking advantage of the gaps and delays in cross border cooperation between judicial and law enforcement authorities. It is therefore crucial for the law enforcement authorities to cooperate effectively and in a timely manner in order to achieve the common goal: to fight crime and bring criminals to Justice.

The European Union, realizing the need for an independent central body in order to confront the challenges posed by organized crime, fraud and corruption, created EPPO to strengthen the fight against crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union.  I would like to stress that Cyprus was one of the first member states which expressed the wish to participate and co-operate for the establishment of EPPO. With the expertise and dedication of this new European independent body, the hard-earned resources of Member states and citizens of the EU are now more effectively protected.

As the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, my primary goal is to ensure that justice is administered fairly and impartially and to uphold the rule of law. In this respect the Attorney General has been designated by law as the competent authority for the implementation of Regulation 2017/1939 establishing the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

I am particularly content that there is an excellent co-operation with the European Public Prosecutor's Office. While both entities are independent, and it is crucial to recognize and respect the autonomy of each other,our flawless collaboration is essential in order to achieve the effective law enforcement and effective prosecution of cross-border crimes. This collaboration is made easier through the European Prosecutor Ms Anni Pantazi and the European Delegated Prosecutor Ms Andri Constantinou, who will both be addressing this conference.

The European Delegated Prosecutor, as mandated by EPPO Regulation, comes from the ranks of the Law Office of the Republic and as an active member of the prosecutorial authorities, acts on behalf of EPPO to investigate and prosecute criminal offences against the financial interests of the Union.

My office, supports the European Public Prosecutor's Office by providing the necessary infrastructure and administrative support staff for the EPPO office in Lefkosia.

Furthermore, all competent national authorities assist EPPO in investigations, wherever requested.

2024 is the third year that EPPO is fully operational. Currently, there are 10 active investigations in Cyprus. Moreover, there are in total 58 cases, where EPPO in Cyprus is assisting other participating member states. There is a steady increase of the cases and Cyprus proves to be a strong partner for all other participating member states.

In the context of our cooperation, the Law Office of the Republic, with the collaboration of the European Delegated Prosecutor and the Ministry of Justice, prepared and submitted draft bills to the House of Representatives for better implementation of the EPPO Regulation and improved harmonization of the PIF Directive. I am pleased to report that recently, the two draft bills were voted into Law.

Our shared vision is a more transparent, accountable and resilient European Union, which we are hoping to achieve through our dedication and commitment to justice.

With this brief introduction I now invite Ms Laura Condruta Kovesi, to share with us her wisdom and expertise, as we explore the Role of EPPO in the criminal protection of the financial interests of the European Union. 

Thank you for your attention.