New Environmental Crime Directive comes into force

On May 20, new regulations aimed at protecting the environment through criminal law officially came into force. This move is part of the European Green Deal’s objectives, targeting the most severe environmental offenses that can severely impact both the ecosystem and human health.

Comprehensive List of Offences

The newly enacted Environmental Crime Directive outlines a detailed and updated list of environmental offenses. Member States are required to classify these breaches as criminal offenses under their national laws. The Directive covers a broad range of violations, including:

  • Unlawful ship recycling
  • Unlawful water abstraction
  • Serious breaches of EU chemicals and mercury legislation
  • Serious breaches related to fluorinated greenhouse gases
  • Violations of invasive alien species regulations

Qualified Offences and Penalties

A significant aspect of the Directive is the introduction of “qualified offenses.” These are offenses that, when resulting in serious, widespread, and substantial environmental damage, will be subject to harsher penalties. This ensures that more severe consequences are in place for the most damaging environmental crimes.

The Directive also specifies concrete penalties for both natural and legal persons involved in such offenses. These measures aim to create a strong deterrent effect throughout the European Union.

Strengthening Enforcement

To effectively combat environmental crime, the new rules emphasize the need to strengthen the enforcement chain. This includes ensuring that practitioners dealing with environmental offenses have adequate resources and appropriate training. Additionally, the Directive guarantees support and assistance for environmental defenders involved in criminal proceedings.

The implementation of the new Environmental Crime Directive represents a pivotal step in aligning criminal law with environmental protection goals. By defining clear offenses and establishing stringent penalties, the EU aims to significantly reduce the occurrence of serious environmental crimes and enhance the overall health of the environment and its inhabitants.

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