“There is a constitutional provision that claims that only the national parliament has the power to investigate and prosecute members or former members of the Greek government,” Kövesi said, adding that the Commission has been made aware so that Greece can be pressed to update its laws.
But in more and more countries, there is little to no hope that officials will change their legislation in a way that allows European prosecutors to go after criminals (and politicians) more easily. A recently published study requested by the Commission flagged that many member states were making it difficult for EPPO to be effective in their jurisdictions, be it in terms of independence or compliance with EU laws.
For example, Slovakia has introduced a fast-track procedure for criminal code reform and started the dissolution of the Special Prosecutor’s Office that handles corruption cases — including those connected to officials from the ruling Smer party, led by Robert Fico.
“We are very concerned by that,” Kövesi said, adding that she had sent a letter to the Commission to share her fears.
“We had the same reaction when it was about Slovenia, where the government wanted to lower the penalties on fraud cases, and where many cases would be closed, which is de facto amnesty.”
EPPO also finds itself in a delicate position when it comes to investigating the Commission itself.
In 2022, EPPO opened a case related to vaccine procurements following hundreds of complaints from citizens about Pfizergate (a controversy surrounding Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and what was said in text messages she reportedly exchanged with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in advance of the EU signing its biggest Covid vaccine contract with the company).
But don’t worry, Kövesi said, because if her team comes under “pressure in any case, you will find out because this will be public.”