Press release

Environmental Crime Directive ‘an important step in the right direction’ - Green MEP

26th March 2024
Grace O'Sullivan

Green Party MEP for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan, has welcomed today’s adoption of the Environmental Crime Directive by the Council of the European Union, paving the way for the directive to become law in EU Member States within two years.

The new EU law will introduce much tougher sanctions for environmental crime offences, and expand the scope of the legislation to cover a wider range of offences. It replaces the previous law which dates back to 2008.

Speaking following the passage of the legislation by the Council, O’Sullivan said:

“The Environmental Crime Directive is an important step in the right direction. The directive is one of the most ambitious environmental crime regulations in the world, and it is long overdue.

“Those who harm ecosystems by extension harm human health and wellbeing. Environmental crime is the third biggest criminal activity in the world, causing losses of up to $281 billion every year, and the destruction and degradation of wildlife and habitats. When things go wrong, it is often up to the taxpayers to pick up the tab to clean up the damage. This has gone on for too long, and this directive will help to end these damaging practices.”

The number of activities that will constitute a criminal offence will increase from nine to 20. New offences include timber trafficking, the illegal recycling of polluting components of ships, serious breaches of legislation on chemicals, improper collection, transport, recovery or disposal of waste, illegal emission or discharge of substances into the atmosphere, water or soil, killing, destruction or possession of, or trade in protected wild animal or plant species, and illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances.

Intentional offences which cause the death of a person will be punishable with a maximum prison sentence of at least ten years. Other offences will result in imprisonment of up to five years. The maximum prison sentence for qualified offences will be at least eight years.

For companies the fines will be at least 5% of the total worldwide turnover for the most serious offences or alternatively €40 million. For all other offences, the maximum fine will be at least 3% of turnover or alternatively €24 million.

Further information on the Environmental Crime Directive can be found here

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