The EU’s Chief Prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, rejected almost all of the Bulgarian candidates that were nominated by Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, to serve in the new EU prosecutor’s office.

Most of the proposed candidates have no experience as prosecutors, no experience in pleading, no experience in criminal investigations, and no experience in investigating EU funds.

Kovesi is reportedly irritated by this, and here in Bulgaria, we certainly share her frustration with Geshev, just as I have previously argued for EurActivEuronews, and LSE.

The new European Public Prosecutor’s Office, or EPPO, is tasked with the very narrow mandate of going after the theft or mismanagement of EU funds. It has to stick to EU funds-related cases only. It does not cover all legal issues as an overarching EU prosecutor service, which could potentially correct mistakes at the national level, much to the dissatisfaction of local groups.

We’d really much rather have the option to turn to an EU prosecutor for many other cases, but the EU system is a la carte, not a free choice menu. That’s why, in her very narrowly defined legal mandate, having particular EU-funds experience is key to the new posts that Kovesi is trying to fill.

This is Kovesi’s first blow against Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor. He is the man who was convinced that Bulgaria’s institutions are sending their best and brightest to this new high profile EU office. Unfortunately, most of the candidates turned out to be highly inadequate for the very specialized job at hand. Furthermore, no other country reportedly had its candidates rejected.

The question that persists – as with any international nomination – is ‘couldn’t they find candidates who will be able to hit the ground running; who were ready to aggressively suck their teeth into crimes involving EU funds which, let’s face it, Bulgaria has a lot of?

Surely, there must be Bulgarian prosecutors who have criminal, funds-related cases under their belt. Aren’t there any Bulgarian prosecutors who have successfully closed cases with convictions for the theft of EU funds, embezzlement, fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the Bulgarian system?

These people surely seem like the top candidates and most obvious choices for the Bulgarian chief prosecutor. People like that are the ones that know the nuts and bolts, and the legal tricks in the Bulgarian system. They would be Kovesi’s fiercest hounds in Bulgaria and that would be a good thing, right? Seasoned, fierce hounds ready to turn everything upside down. These are the kinds of people that Geshev wants as European prosecutors, right?

Something, however, tells me that these candidates were the first to be struck down by Geshev. Bulgaria is demonstrating from the outset, before the work has even begun, that addressing EU funds crimes are the last thing on this administration’s mind. And the upcoming elections in April will not change that because the Bulgarian chief prosecutor has a mandate of seven years, and he is the one that decides who gets an EU prosecutor nomination.

As we await the second batch of candidates after this political blow, the message has been sent: ‘Laura, for EU funds crimes, please don’t call Bulgaria. We are busy right now, but please be assured that your call is very important to us. We will return your call as soon as we can’.


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