The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) should be tasked with prosecuting cross-border terrorism, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said.
The primary function of the EPPO, as set out in the Lisbon Treaty, is to investigate and prosecute fraud against the EU budget and crimes against the EU’s financial interests, such as fraud involving EU funds.
Legislation bringing the EPPO into existence is to be adopted in October by 20 of 28 member states, excluding the UK and Ireland.
However, delivering the annual State of the Union address in Brussels today, Mr Juncker said the EPPO could also help in “fighting terrorism”.
Urging the EU to be “stronger”, Mr Juncker said: “In the past three years, we have made real progress. But we still lack the means to act quickly in case of cross-border terrorist threats.
“This is why I call for a European intelligence unit that ensures data concerning terrorists and foreign fighters are automatically shared among intelligence services and with the police.
“I also see a strong case for tasking the new European Public Prosecutor with prosecuting cross-border terrorist crimes.”
Mr Juncker also spoke about the importance of the rule of law elsewhere in his speech, saying that judgments of the European Court of Justice “have to be respected by all”.
He added: “To undermine them, or to undermine the independence of national courts, is to strip citizens of their fundamental rights. The rule of law is not optional in the European Union. It is a must.
“Our Union is not a state but it is a community of law.”