European Environment Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevicius, on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, unveiled new plans to boost criminal prosecutions for environmental violations as the EU has “to be clear environmental crimes are not victimless’’.
Sinkevicius said during a press conference in Brussels that lawbreakers can go unpunished and there are too few incentives to observe the law.
“Too often in Europe, there is no real penalty for environmental crime.
“The plans are a move to tighten criminal legislation as part of the European Union’s wider transition policy.
“Towards a more environmentally friendly economy and society to fight climate change,’’ the commissioner said.
He said the details of the proposal how the EU defines criminal offences related to pollution, waste and threatening biodiversity, assisting prosecutions and reinforcing the environmental rule of law.
He added that greater training and cross-border cooperation with enhanced data sharing among the Police authorities are also proposed.
The commission has also presented new offences as well as tougher penalties if an environmental violation results in the loss of life.
The plans are to be submitted next to the European Parliament and European Council for approval.
According to Interpol and the United Nations Environmental Programme, environmental violations such as illegal logging or waste disposal are the fourth largest criminal activity in the world.
“The growing rate is between five and seven per cent.’’