Environmental crime – Financial interests of the European Union, economic recovery and the objectives of the Green Deal

Nov 28, 2022 | News

Recent developments under the European Green Deal have focused on criminalization and re-engineering of regulatory frameworks to address environmental crime and its impact on the EU’s financial interests. An extensive study on this issue was prepared by the Topic Department for Civil Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Petitions Committee. The content of the study suggests that, despite efforts to date, the transnational nature of environmental crime and its convergence with organized crime, money laundering and corruption has not been adequately incorporated into current reforms. The correct categorization of crimes against the environment as serious crimes is necessary as a basic basis for policy reforms, but it must also be complemented by other steps:

  • Promote a common definition of environmental crimes in all EU Member States to help guide legislative frameworks and enforcement measures.
  • As with other crimes, the proper categorization of environmental crimes as “serious crimes” should be considered as a fundamental basis for policy reforms.
  • Promote greater harmonization of other key concepts of environmental criminal law across EU Member States to ensure a more consistent approach.
  • Develop binding mechanisms for reporting environmental crimes and related violations to improve data collection. Reliable and more complete statistics are needed to guide regulatory measures in line with the magnitude of the problem.
  • The European Green Prosecutor is not high on the EU’s short-term political agenda. However, it is recommended to consider the need for a transitional solution aimed at empowering a transnational body to supplement the efforts of member states to promote and facilitate cooperation and investigation of cross-border crimes against the environment.
  • To account for the convergence of crime, a more holistic approach to tackling environmental crime is needed. In this regard, multidisciplinary cooperation is effective, which should also strive to harmonize the relevant administrative, law enforcement and judicial authorities.
  • Recognize crime against the environment as a serious crime and a form of organized crime. This would broaden the spread of investigative tools and facilitate cross-border cooperation.
  • Encourage, facilitate and fund greater cooperation between Member States to ensure an effective response to the transnational nature of environmental crimes.
  • Furthermore, support the involvement of civil society by raising awareness and increasing transparency.
  • It is better to control compliance with obligations of obliged persons in the area of due diligence. This would also help support financial investigations and ultimately prosecutions.

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