José Guerra’s appointment to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is on the agenda for the first 2021 plenary session, scheduled for next week in Brussels. The controversy is the last point of debate on Wednesday, according to the latest version of the work.
MEPs want to hear from the Council about the “lack of transparency” in appointments to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. And since Portugal has the rotating presidency of the institution, it must be a member of the Government to go to the European Parliament (EP) to explain.
The matter is discussed on the same day that the EP expects António Costa to visit. The uncomfortable subject is discussed in the afternoon and early in the morning, the prime minister is expected to present the presidency’s priorities for the next six months. It remains to be seen whether the subjects are mixed.
Costa responds to liberals, but does not convince
The group of liberals had threatened to take the issue to the hemicycle, if they were not satisfied with the clarifications requested from Portugal. The request by MEPs from Renovar Europa had followed by letter to António Costa on Monday. The answer has already arrived in Brussels.
In the letter to which the Express had access, the Prime Minister addressed the leader of the parliamentary bench, the Romanian Dacian Ciolos, to explain to him how the Public Ministry and its Superior Council work.
“The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Portugal has a very different status from what is common in Europe”, writes Costa, to conclude later that “the composition of the Superior Council of the Public Prosecution thus ensures its independence from political power and particular to the Government ”.
The prime minister assumes “two lapses” in the letter sent in 2019 to the EU Council, to justify the choice of Guerra, but says that the curricula that were part of the process were not wrong. At the same time, he refuses to have “political interference” and repeats that what happened was “respect for the autonomy of the Public Ministry”, whose Superior Council selected and ranked the candidates.
However, the explanations did not convince the liberals and the matter goes to the plenary.
“The response we received has not clarified enough and, therefore, it is necessary to have a debate with all the stakeholders”, tells the Express parliamentary source, adding that “it is vital that objectivity and meritocracy overlap in the appointment of prosecutors” and that ” any suspicion of political influence should be avoided ”.
The decision to put the issue on the agenda was taken this Wednesday, at the meeting of leaders of the various political groups in the European Parliament.
EU Council also discusses the case
In the letter sent by António Costa, the prime minister also confirms that the Council will “consider” the question of the appointment of the prosecutor “at a meeting of the working group of Counselors for Justice and Home Affairs”. A technical level meeting with representatives from the 27 Member States.
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