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EU Agencies

Staffing Woes: Bulgarian EPPO Office In Crisis

The Office of the European Prosecutor General (BPGE) in Sofia is currently experiencing staffing problems. Some of the EU delegate prosecutors who had started working on VAT and EU funds fraud cases in Bulgaria are quitting, and others are applying for other jobs, EURACTIV partner Sega reported.

The BPGE — or European Public Prosecutor’s Office — is an independent and decentralized EU prosecutor’s office with a mandate to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes undermining the EU budget. Bulgaria, an EU member state since 2007, continues to face problems of high-level corruption and political instability.

The BPGE office in Sofia became operational in 2020, but now two of Bulgaria’s nine EU-delegated prosecutors have resigned and are returning to work in the Bulgarian judiciary, while a third prosecutor is currently applying for a post at Eurojust, Sega reported.

Five others are in contests to reinstate Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office, which has been criticized by the EU for its poor performance in fighting corruption at the highest levels of power.

As for the rest of the staff, almost all the administrators and some assistant prosecutors have left their posts.

The administrators who resigned from the service informed the Chief Prosecutor of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, Laura Kövesi, of a number of irregularities, according to EURACTIV Bulgaria’s sources.

Ms Kövesi’s office said in a comment to EURACTIV that “the resignations are of a personal nature, therefore BPGE as an organization cannot comment on this”. The prosecution claims that it is “carefully examining the matter”.

The EPPO’s annual report is due out in early March and Ms Kövesi is expected to speak out on the problems in Bulgaria and other EU member states then.

Bulgarian Office of The BPGE

The Bulgarian office of the BPGE has so far obtained only one suspended sentence in a criminal case involving an employee of the Bulgarian Agricultural Fund, responsible for managing EU agricultural subsidies. This case was initiated by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office and transferred to the BPGE after the establishment of this European institution.

Right from the selection process for the European Delegated Prosecutors, staffing problems were encountered. At the end of the first procedure, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office retained only four of the ten prosecutors appointed by the Bulgarian Supreme Council of the Judiciary, the others having been rejected because they were deemed unsuitable.

The number of European delegated prosecutors in Sofia then increased to nine, while a total of 15 magistrates is needed.

This article is originally published on euractiv.fr

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