EU to combat environmental crime with new directive

The proposal obliges member states to take criminal law measures against those who damage the environment

Representative image
Representative image


The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new European Union (EU) Directive to crackdown on environmental crime, fulfilling a key commitment of the European Green Deal.

The proposal obliges member states to take criminal law measures against those who damage the environment. It defines new environmental crimes, sets a minimum level for sanctions, and strengthens the effectiveness of law enforcement cooperation. It also obliges EU countries to support and assist people who report environmental offences, Xinhua news agency reported.

The goal of the proposal is to help protect nature and natural resources, as well as public health and well-being, the Commission said.

"The wilful destruction of our natural environment threatens our very survival as humanity," said Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans.

"Letting law-breakers act with impunity undermines our collective efforts to protect nature and biodiversity, fight the climate crisis, reduce pollution and eliminate waste. Serious abuses must be met with a serious response."

Under the proposal, new environmental criminal offences include illegal timber trade, ship recycling and abstraction of water. Existing definitions of environmental criminal offences are also clarified.

The Commission proposes to set a common minimum denominator for sanctions for environmental crimes. Where offences cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury to any person, member states have to provide at least for imprisonment of up to ten years, said the Commission.

The proposal will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council.

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