Former Romanian anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Kövesi has obtained the support of a “sufficient majority” of Member States to take charge of the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to media reports on Thursday.
The 46-year-old Kövesi won the backing of 17 out of the 22 member states states participating in the new European body, which is charged with prosecuting fraud in the EU budget. Council negotiators will now meet with those of the European Parliament, after which a final vote must be held between the Member States.
The way was cleared for Kövesi after the announcement in mid-July that France was ready to support her candidacy after the French candidate, Jean-François Bohnert, was chosen to head the national financial prosecutor’s office in France.
Kövesi’s candidacy faced major setbacks, mostly resulting from an aggressive campaign by the Romanian government to deligitimise her credentials for the position.
Days before being interviewed for the job as EU chief prosecutor in February, Kövesi was called in for questioning by Romanian prosecutors to answer allegations of bribery, abuse of office and giving false testimony.
The accusations against her were widely seen as a politically motivated effort in Bucharest to tarnish Kovesi’s record and harm her chances of becoming the chief prosecutor.
The Romanian government’s animosity towards Kovesi began during her five years at the helm of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate, during which time she put 68 high-level functionaries on trial, including 14 government ministers or ex-ministers and 53 deputies from both houses of the Romanian parliament.
One of Kovesi’s investigations led to a two-year suspended prison sentence for Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea, preventing him from taking up office as prime minister after winning the 2016 parliamentary elections.
As the head of the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office, Laura Codruta Kövesi will have the power to investigate and prosecute 22 EU countries, including Romania, for breaches of the EU budget.