THE 4 NETWORKS – EUFJE, ENPE, IMPEL, AND EnviCrimeNet – ON THE PROPOSAL FOR A DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL ON THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH CRIMINAL LAW (ECD)
The 4 Networks, EUFJE – The European Union Forum of Judges for the Environment, ENPE – European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment, IMPEL – European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law and EnviCrimeNet, bringing together relevant parties – judges, prosecutors, regulators, inspectors, and police officers – to contribute to joint efforts to fight environmental crime, congratulate and welcome European Union authorities and institutions for all the work that led to the proposal for a new Environmental Crime Directive (ECD). In the position paper the networks outlined important improvements in the new proposal and some areas for improvement.
The 4 Networks were widely involved and consulted in the process of evaluation of Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law (ECD), by the European Commission, through Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) and Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), namely under the Environmental Compliance and Governance Forum and its Working Group on Environmental Crime. This involvement ensured the opportunity for practitioners to contribute with their knowledge and experience.
“Environmental crimes negatively affect water, air, soil, habitats, our climate, the physical health and well-being of people, and flora and fauna” and cause social and economic damage, both in Europe and worldwide. It is related to a “global economic loss estimated at USD 91-259 billion, rising by 5-7% annually” which makes “environmental crime the fourth largest criminal activity in the world after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking” (COM, 2008). Therefore, ensuring the revised ECD is an effective tool in practice to prevent, deter and defeat environmental crime is a duty that calls all of us, also as citizens and part of a society whose welfare must be safeguarded.
The proposed new Directive reflects the need for an Environmental Crime Directive which is ambitious and broad in scope and that identifies environmental crime as a serious issue and acknowledges that criminal enforcement needs to be strengthened. We welcome the addition of twenty new categories of environmental activity which are capable of being considered offences and covered by the availability of criminal sanctions. The proposal generally reaffirms the need for increased criminal prosecution to ensure effective, dissuasive, and proportionate punishment and deterrence.