Preventing environmental crime – from law into practice

image 56The list of environmental crimes is long and varied: from the illicit trade in live animals to illegal timber collection to breaching EU legislation on chemical and nuclear waste. Environmental crime goes way beyond littering on the streets and are big business. Environmental crime is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world, accounting for between 86 and 246 billion euro in global economic losses in 2016, and it continues to grow.

Even in the European Union, organised crime groups are currently involved in large-scale environmental crime. As a part of its Green Deal, the European Commission wants to modernise and reinvigorate the ‘Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law’, better known as the ‘Environmental Crime Directive’ which aims to tackle environmental crime on an EU-wide scale. The proposal put forward in December 2021 innovates in several ways, such as increasing deterrence with its penalties, creating a wider variety of offences, and focusing on the prevention of environmental crime. The proposal will mandate action in preventing environmental crimes at the national or regional level.

Published: June 2022

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