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

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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EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report

Europol’s annual report on the situation and trends in the field of terrorism contains statistical data, describes the main developments and trends related to the situation in the field of terrorism in the EU in 2021. It is based on verified qualitative and quantitative data provided by Member States on terrorist attacks, arrests and judicial decisions issued for terrorist offences. It also contains valuable qualitative information and assessments from Europol’s partners that enrich the report’s findings to reflect on possible developments outside the EU that have an impact on the security of the EU and its citizens.

Although the primary focus of the report is terrorism, it also lists specific violent extremist incidents, acts and activities, where relevant and available, as reported by EU Member States. The report thus provides a current situational picture of terrorism in the EU and at the same time highlights some future challenges. It informs policymakers, law enforcement officials and the wider public about developments related to terrorism, as well as forms of extremism that may influence or be linked to terrorism.

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Opinion of the European Parliament on the proposal for a directive on the prevention and punishment of environmental crime in the European Union

In June of this year, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a fundamental amendment to Directive 2008/99/EC concerning environmental protection through criminal law. In order to improve the effectiveness of the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses in all EU member states, the draft of the new directive sets six main objectives:

  • clarify terms used in definitions of environmental crimes that leave too much room for interpretation;
  • update the directive by including new branches of environmental crime within its scope;
  • ensure more effective, dissuasive and proportionate sanctions by defining the types and levels of sanctions for environmental crimes;
  • support cross-border investigations and prosecutions;
  • improve informed decision-making on environmental crimes through better collection and dissemination of statistical data according to common standards in all Member States;
  • improve the effectiveness of national enforcement chains.

The European Parliament has reviewed this proposal based on the assessment of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs and has currently issued a comprehensive opinion on the submitted proposal. In this opinion, the proposal fundamentally clarifies and expands its application in the interest of more effective prevention and stronger punishment of this type of crime on a national scale as well as on the scale of the entire European Union.

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British police plan to use behavioral data to stop ‘potential offenders’ from committing crime

UK police intend to use data on previous behavior to stop ‘potential offenders’ from committing crime. On this issue, current reports in the British media quote the Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, who announced that the force under his command plans to use behavioral data collected from tens of thousands of men to predict who might commit violent crimes against women and use these “evidence” to prevent crime. Rowley had previously been in charge of counter-terrorism policing efforts in the UK for four years, and that’s where he got the idea. However, at the moment, no complete analysis is yet available, and even less is known what technologies would be used to achieve this future goal. At the moment, the Metropolitan Police of London is creating a database of men known for violent behavior against women and girls. The aim will continue to be to see if it is possible to create a clearer picture of future risks, to predict and ban men who commit violent crimes against women not girls, based on previous behavior as statistically tested risk factors.

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