The Roundtable was held in Thessaloniki, at the premises of the “National School for Judges, Greece”, on Friday the 8th of July 2016. Judges and public prosecutors from countries of southern Europe (Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and Greece) were called. Finally, two public prosecutors from Portugal, one from Italy and one from Greece as well as one judge from Cyprus and three from Greece attended the Roundtable.
The main purpose of this Roundtable was to gain an initial knowledge of the situation in southern Europe countries regarding the themes of the action, exchange views and best practices with colleagues from Southern European countries and have an extensive discussion on the scheduled conference. After a long discussion between all the participants, it became apparent that the round table was a good beginning for the program and should be repeated after the conference.
The subjects that rose during the session may be concluded as follows:
All southern European, participating, judges and prosecutors have almost the same problems when dealing with cases of fraud against the interests of the European Union and tobacco smuggling. That includes:
• The lack of resources and qualified personnel.
• The advancement and increasingly complex criminal networks that frauders and smugglers use.
• The inabilities and sometimes unwillingness of administrative bodies to cooperate.
• As most of the cases are transnational, the difficulties arising regarding the coordination of the investigation and the judicial cooperation.
• Noticing that most of the cases arises
- After complaints of privates,
- The long period between the facts of the case and the beginning of the investigation.
2. During the discussion, it was made clear that the legal basis in each country is different. Although big differences do not exist, the remaining differences cause problems during the investigation, as most of the cases are transnational. The possibility of coordinating the legal frame regarding fraud against the interests of EU and tobacco smuggling will be a subject for discussion during the second session of the round table.
3. Although the participants knew many things about OLAF, it was made clear that a vast majority of judges have a very limited knowledge of OLAF, it' s armory of powers and the many ways OLAF can help them in their job.
4. Regarding the conference, participants proposed to include as many case studies as possible.
5. Finally, it was decided to repeat the round table, for a second session, after the conference (during the working sessions scheduled on the second-final day), for a detailed discussion evaluating the conference and the whole action.