At the meeting of the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) with European Commissioner Věra Jourová, gender equality and establishing of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office were spoken about.
Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Toomas Vitsut gave an overview of the work of the Committee and the events of the parliamentary dimension of Estonia’s presidency of the Council of European Union. Commissioner Jourová, who is responsible for justice, consumer affairs and gender equality, told about the priorities of the Commission.
The Commissioner explained that the purpose of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which was being established, would be directing of pretrial criminal investigation of offences against the EU’s financial interests and of serious cross-border VAT fraud, and prosecution in the Member State court.
Member of the Constitutional Committee Arto Aas asked the Commissioner to explain the principles of the work of the EPPO, and asked if all Member States were interested in establishing it. The Commissioner replied that the EPPO would be established within the framework of enhanced cooperation.
Aas confirmed Estonia’s support to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, and said that the number of Member States joining enhanced cooperation had always been important for Estonia, because the establishing of the EPPO would have a meaning only if as many Member States as possible participated in it.
So far, 17 states have informed of their wish to establish the EPPO under enhanced cooperation. However, it may be said that the number of participating countries will most probably increase. At the moment, Estonia has not yet decided its participation in enhanced cooperation, but hopes to form the final position soon. Establishing of the EPPO will presumably take place during the Estonian presidency.
In reply to Marianne Mikko’s question, the Commissioner spoke of the experience of the EU Member States in ensuring gender equality and reducing the pay gap between men and women.
Extending of the European criminal records databases information system to exchange information about the citizens of third countries was also discussed. Estonia supports the establishing of a central system of exchanging criminal records data that would contain as much and as precise information as possible, including data on fingerprints.
Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Toomas Vitsut, and members of the Committee Liisa Oviir, Marinne Mikko, Andrei Novikov, Tiit Terik, Urve Tiidus (from the Legal Affairs Committee) and Arto Aas (from the Constitutional Committee) attended the meeting.