During the interview conducted in Bologna on 6 July 2022, Dr. Profiti (European Delegated Prosecutor of the EPPO in Italy) expressed his point of view on the recent establishment of the EPPO and on his experience gained over the past years.
How has the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office been received in your field of work?
Our position was well received by colleagues and in particular, when I confronted the judges, I must say that we found a welcome no different from that of the national prosecutors; there is curiosity towards this institute which poses new juridical questions.
Which offences envisaged by Directive (EU) 1371/2017 are most frequently encountered in judicial practice and specifically in the geographical context in which you work?
From my point of view there is not a big difference based on geographical contexts. The scenario is more or less similar: VAT fraud dominates, which are often also managed by criminal associations – and sometimes we cannot exclude the involvement of major criminal organisations -; these are so-called carousel fraud. We have smuggling, which represents a large part of our business in our territory. We have European funds fraud, which is certainly crime news that is constantly fed and which is immediately brought to our attention. Obviously, the amount of money lost through these fraudulent behaviours is different: VAT fraud impacts our competence for an amount exceeding 10 million euros of VAT evaded and therefore are always very large amounts, which in truth are also reached quite easily at the light of what has been observed so far. For smuggling there is a threshold of € 100,000, which can also be reached with some ease.
Do you think that the involvement of organised crime could mean, in a region like Emilia Romagna – which judicial experience proves to be aimed at the economic interests of the ‘Ndrangheta – the involvement of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office also in this type of investigation?
Of course yes, in the sense that where organised crime focuses on crimes within the competence of the EPPO and therefore in a scenario of associative cases with fine crimes such as those within the competence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, our competence can also be triggered. As well as for the laundering of the proceeds of the predicate offences of those contemplated by the PIF directive and therefore affecting the financial interests of the European Union (…) colleagues and with the cases we handle with other colleagues. This ease of coordination is certainly a factor of great progress.
Considers it appropriate for the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to extend its jurisdiction to crimes that are not limited to the protection of the Union’s financial interests or membership of criminal organisations, for example with reference to the 2018 European Commission proposal to extend jurisdiction to terrorist offences ?
Absolutely yes. For many years I have had the opportunity to deal with terrorist offences and I must say that, in my opinion, terrorism represents an extraordinarily important test case for a European Public Prosecutor (…). Being able to exchange information, as we do now for VAT fraud or smuggling, even for terrorist offences, would really bring us huge steps forward and a significant leap in quality in the fight against these crimes. (…). The difficulties in implementing the judicial integration process are linked to the institutional and regulatory differences of the various countries, and in particular the activity of the public prosecutor in one state, that of the judicial police in another (…).
In short, it seems that the prospect could be that of a common penal system.
Perhaps. The proposal for a regulation by the European Commission for the EPPO, which was then faded, literally stated to create a single legal area within Europe and in which there was the defence against crime by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Then of course it was not realised, because we certainly do not have a harmonised system, neither procedural nor substantive yet.
Moreover, establishing privileged relations with other states is a plausible prospect: for example, the European Public Prosecutor has recently concluded an agreement with a non-EU country such as Albania in order to regulate its relations.
Yes, I learned it and I must say that, having worked in Albania and knowing some magistrates who have been” selected “from the school where I carried out the role of resident expert for the Council of Europe, I had no doubts that Albania was ready to cooperate with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Because Albania has a legal culture that is very close to the Italian one and has long had a European vocation: at the school of the judiciary in Albania, in the period in which I was there to collaborate in preparing the training programs for magistrates, many courses were precisely focused on European law and, therefore, feel very much this need for cooperation. This judicial cooperation with Albania is certainly a significant step forward, it will be of great use to us and is a virtuous example for other countries as well.
Serena Cacciatore, Constanza De Caro, Alejandro Hernández López, Cristina Ruiz López and Ana María Vicario Pérez, [Antony Zhilkin – English version].