Brussels [Belgium], November 18 (ANI/WAM): The Council presidency and European Parliament negotiators reached a provisional agreement on a proposed EU law that would improve the investigation and prosecution of environmental crime offences.
The new directive aims at establishing minimum rules on the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in order to better protect the environment, replacing the previous 2008 directive, which has become obsolete in the face of developments in EU environmental law.
The directive defines environmental crime more precisely and adds new types of environmental criminal offences. It also harmonises the level of penalties for natural persons and, for the first time, for legal persons across all EU member states.
The Council and European Parliament agreed to increase the number of offences that currently exist under EU criminal law from nine to 18. The new offences include timber trafficking, which is a major cause of deforestation in some parts of the world; the illegal recycling of polluting components of ships; and serious breaches of legislation on chemicals.
The Council and European Parliament also agreed on a "qualified offence" clause. Offences referred to in the directive and which are committed intentionally are considered qualified offence if they cause destruction, irreversible, widespread and substantial damage, or long-lasting, widespread and substantial damage to an ecosystem of considerable size or environmental value, or to a natural habitat within a protected site, or to the quality of air, soil or water.
The agreement still needs to be confirmed by both institutions before going through the formal adoption procedure. (ANI/WAM)