The European Commission was taking action to improve Union-wide prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers by establishing a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, a press release informs. Its exclusive task will be to investigate and prosecute and, where relevant, bring to judgement – in the Member States’ courts – crimes affecting the EU budget. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be an independent institution, subject to democratic oversight. The logic of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office proposal is simple: If you have a “federal budget” – with money coming from all EU Member States and administered under common rules – then you also need “federal instruments” to protect this budget effectively across the Union. Currently, there is a very uneven level of protection and enforcement across the EU when it comes to tackling EU fraud. The rate of successful prosecutions concerning offences against the EU budget varies considerably from one Member State to another, with an EU average of just 42.3 pc. Many cases are not prosecuted at all, allowing fraudsters to get away with exploiting legal loopholes and pocketing citizens’ money. Even when cases are prosecuted, there is a large disparity across Member States in terms of conviction rates for offences against the EU budget. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office will make sure that every case involving suspected fraud against the EU budget is followed up and completed, so that criminals know they will be prosecuted and brought to justice.