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BREAKING NEWS

European Council backs Romania's Laura Kovesi as EU's first public prosecutor

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Laura Codruta Kovesi, Romania's former chief anti-corruption prosecutor, arrives to attend a hearing at the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the judiciary
Laura Codruta Kovesi, Romania's former chief anti-corruption prosecutor, arrives to attend a hearing at the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the judiciary -
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Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS/File Photo
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The former head of Romania’s anti-corruption unit will become the European Union’s first public prosecutor after a secret ballot of European ambassadors.

Laura Codruta Kovesi, who was sacked in July 2018 as head of the country's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), was chosen as the first head of the European Public Prosecutor's Office at a meeting in Brussels.

A spokesperson for the European Council confirmed to Euronews that the ballot was held in order to “overcome differences of views within the European Parliament”.

Read more: What is the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and will it help fight corruption involving EU cash?

MEPs had already backed Kovesi, but the European Council had preferred France’s Jean-Francois Bohnert, leading to criticism that the council was bowing to pressure from Romania.

But an "informal ballot confirmed that there is sufficient majority to support Ms Kövesi", the spokesperson said.

Romania’s government had vehemently opposed Kovesi’s appointment and the Romanian ambassador was mandated to vote against Kovesi’s appointment.

Rule of law

“I will say it again … we do not support a mandate for Laura Codruta Kovesi,” Dancila told reporters today after a party meeting.

Speaking to Reuters, Kosevi said: "I hope that this vote motivates Romanian magistrates to continue the fight against corruption, defend the independence of the judiciary and resist potential pressures and harassment."

The EU Council will hold a formal vote in the coming weeks which is expected to confirm the appointment.

EU and US officials have criticised Romania’s ruling Social Democrats for an overhaul of the judiciary that has been seen as a threat to the rule of law, and for watering down anti-corruption legislation.

“By choosing Kovesi, the EU is sending a firm message to criminals and the corrupt everywhere, that it is willing to properly defend the EU’s budget,” European Parliament and green lawmaker Saskia Bricmont said.

The EU aims to set up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office next year to tackle graft, VAT fraud and other crimes involving the bloc’s multi-billion-euro joint budget. Twenty-two EU countries have signed up to the project.

Currently, only national authorities can investigate and prosecute fraud against the EU budget in their respective countries.