The Council approved to strengthen the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) capacity to tackle fraud

The political agreement already reached between the European Parliament and the Council to reform the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has been officially ratified by the Council. The main objectives of the reform are to increase the efficiency of OLAF's investigation, to strengthen cooperation between the office and the competent authorities of the member states and third countries, and to increase OLAF's accountability.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will strength its capacity to tackle fraud following the official approval given by the Council. Now that the political agreement has been approved by the Council, the text goes back to the European Parliament for a second reading. If the plenary approves the rules as agreed with the Council the new regulation is adopted and can enter into force after having been published in the Official Journal of the EU. The European Commission proposed to reform the structure of European Anti-Fraud Office in March 2011.

The reform intends to improve efficiency through reinforcing OLAF's independence. The tasks and duties of OLAF's Director-General and of the Supervisory Committee, as well as the respective appointment procedures have been more explicitly outlined with a view to clarify the scope of their action. With a view to speeding up the investigation, the right of OLAF to immediate and unannounced access to information held by institutions, bodies, offices or agencies has been extended to the stages prior to the investigation in order to assess if there are reasons to start an investigation.

The new rules will provide for more timely and effective exchange of information and clear reporting obligations during the various phases of the investigations, according to the Council. In addition, OLAF will get the possibility to conclude administrative arrangements with Europol, Eurojust, third countries' competent authorities and international organisations. Also, an exchange of views will take place once a year between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. In order to increase accountability, the procedural rights of persons concerned by an OLAF investigations, witnesses and informants will be further strengthened. The OLAF's supervisory committee will continue to ensure that the office exercises its mission in full independence. In addition to its current tasks, the supervisory committee will, however, also be mandated to monitor the application of the procedural guarantees.