Protection against fraud to the EU budget: Council agrees on its position

Council of the EU
  • 08/12/2016
  • 11:00
  • Press release
  • 748/16
  • Justice
  • Budget
08/12/2016
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Romain Sadet
Press officer (Justice; Corporate communications)
+32 22818914
+32 473865437

On 8 December 2016, the Council found an agreement on the directive on the protection of the financial interest of the EU, paving the way for a formal adoption of the text in the coming weeks. 

The objective of the so-called PIF directive is to deter fraudsters, improve the prosecution and sanctioning of crimes against the EU budget, and facilitate the recovery of misused EU funds thereby increasing the protection of EU taxpayers' money. These common rules will help to ensure a level playing field and improved investigation and prosecution across the EU.

Lucia Žitňanská, minister for Justice of Slovakia said: "I welcome the agreement reached today after several years of discussions. The protection of the EU financial interest is key to ensure the most efficient and effective use of European taxpayers money. Having common definitions, common rules, common minimum sanctions is of outmost importance to fight fraud across the EU".

The proposed directive provides common definitions of a number of offences against the EU budget. Those offences include cases of fraud and other related crimes such as active and passive corruption, the misappropriation of funds, money laundering, etc. As per the final agreement found with the Parliament, serious cases of cross border VAT fraud will also be included in the scope of the directive when above a threshold of €10 millions. 

The directive also includes minimum rules on prescription periods, within which the case must be investigated and prosecuted, as well as minimum rules on sanctions, including imprisonment for the most serious cases to strengthen the deterrent effect. 

Next steps 

The agreement is set to be finalised at the beginning of next year, following formal votes in EP and Council.