Renforce researchers conclude a comprehensive comparative report on the investigative powers of the European Anti-Fraud Service, OLAF

Research note by Miroslava Scholten

Under the auspices of RENFORCE, an international team of researchers has recently concluded a report on the ‘Investigatory powers and procedural safeguards: Improving OLAF’s legislative framework through a comparison with other EU law enforcement authorities ‘.The project was co-funded under the Hercule III programme of the European Commission/OLAF. Headed by prof. Michiel Luchtman and prof. John Vervaele, it analyses OLAF’s legal framework for the gathering of information and evidence.

The work of the project team reveals significant deviations between the legal framework for OLAF and other EU bodies with comparable tasks (European Competition Network/ECN, the European Central Bank/ECB, and the European Securities and Markets Authority/ESMA). These differences highlight shortcomings in the OLAF legal framework, particularly when it comes to its powers of investigation, but also relating to the legal protection for the individuals concerned.

The project uses a comparative approach in which the interaction between the four authorities and their national partners in six legal orders (Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom) are analyzed. The report offers findings on each of the four EU authorities individually and in comparison, six national reports and the overall comparative analysis. The results are relevant for policymakers and legislative bodies at the EU and national level, for academics and practitioners in the area of enforcement of EU law and for training purposes.

Renforce researchers Michiel Luchtman, John Vervaele, Mira Scholten, Michele Simonato, Joske Graat and Danielle Arnold executed the project together with prof. Martin Böse and dr. Anne Schneider (both University of Bonn), prof. Peter Alldridge (Queen Mary, University of London), prof. Juliette Tricot (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Paris), prof. Silvia Allegrezza, Prof. Katalin Ligeti and Dr. Gavin Robinson (all University of Luxembourg) and dr. Celina Nowak (Kozminski University, Warsaw).

The report is related to several other Renforce projects, including the VIDI project of prof. Michiel Luchtman and the VENI project of dr. Mira Scholten, funded by the Dutch Council of Scientific Research. A second project funded under the Hercule III programme is currently running and led by dr. Michele Simonato, prof. Michiel Luchtman and prof. John Vervaele.