by Dr. Nathalie Harksen
The protection of the European Communities' financial interests has become an increasingly serious need due to the constant enlargement of the Community and the resulting increase in expenditure. As part of the efforts to establish appropriate anti-fraud measures, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) was set up in 1999 with the task of detecting irregularities affecting the budget of the European Communities. In order to fulfil this task, regulations were created which allow OLAF inspectors to carry out checks on economic operators in the Member States. These European legal regulations refer to the respective national regulations, so that the powers of the inspectors result from an overall view of the Community law and the relevant national regulations. The present paper describes the concrete powers of OLAF staff members during an inspection in Belgium and the restrictions they are subject to.