Convention of 26 July 1995 on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests (and its protocols)
Since 1995, a convention has been in place which seeks to protect, under criminal law, the financial interests of the EU and its taxpayers. Over the years, the Convention on the Protection of the European Communities’ Financial Interests has been supplemented by a series of protocols.
- Council Act of 27 September 1996 drawing up a Protocol to the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, adopted in 1996, this Protocol differentiates between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ corruption of public officials (i.e., a public official who gives or promises a bribe v. an official who receives a bribe). It also defines an ‘official’ (both at national and EU levels) and harmonises the penalties for corruption offences;
- Council Act of 29 November 1996 drawing up, on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, the Protocol on the interpretation, by way of preliminary rulings, by the Court of Justice of the European Communities of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests: This protocol allows national courts, when in doubt as to how to interpret the Convention and its Protocols, to petition the Court of Justice of the European Union for preliminary rulings;
- Second Protocol, drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the treaty on European Union, to the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, adopted in 1997, the second Protocol further clarified the Convention regarding the issues of the liability of legal persons, confiscation and money laundering.
The Convention and its protocols:
- provide a harmonised legal definition of fraud
- require their signatories to adopt criminal penalties for fraud.
The Convention entered into force on 17 October 2002, along with its first protocol and the protocol on its interpretation by the Court of Justice. The second protocol entered into force on 19 May 2009.
Once adopted, the Directive on the fight against fraud to the Union's financial interests by means of criminal law will repeal this convention.
Reference number: 316
Issue date: 26-07-95
Official Journal: OJ C 316, 27.11.1995, pp. 49-57