On 23 and 24 June 2014, the EFFACE project organised two workshops on the "Role of the Criminal Justice System" and "Environmental Crime and Organised Crime,” in Catania, Sicily. The workshops brought together enforcement officials, academic experts in the field of environmental crime, and NGO representatives. The objective was and to develop recommendations on how the EU could improve the enforcement of existing legislation dealing with environmental crime and better understand the connections with organised crime.
Both workshops introduced recent research conducted by EFFACE partners on environmental crime and relevant legislation in select Member States (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK). Particular attention was given to changes in national legislation before and after the adoption of the Directive on protection of the environment through criminal law and the Directive on ship source pollution.
In the workshop on the “Role of the Criminal Justice System,” Italy was used to illustrate that the transposition of EU Directives led to some important adjustments in national legislation. Despite transposition of EU Directives, particularly those related to waste, practical problems during implementation persist. The example of Italy highlighted practical problems related to proving illegality, individual versus corporate liability, the criminal prosecution system and variation in remediation.
On the other hand, the example of France showed the effective role of specialized police forces in the fight against environmental crime.
At the EU level, environmental crimes associated with organized crime were identified as priority areas for EU action. This relates, in particular, to waste trafficking and trade in endangered species. However, in the second workshop on organized crime, it was recognized that environmental criminal law is only integrated to a small extent in organized crime legislation; however, it was not clear whether further integrated was needed.
There was a consensus among speakers and participants in both workshops that non-legal actors had an important role to play in helping combat environmental crime. Moreover, multi-stakeholder action involving enforcement agencies and NGOs, as well as the use of platforms of mutual assistance (e.g. enforcement networks) could help the exchange of data and increase the capacity of countries to fight environmental crime on a national and international level.
During the discussion, there were divergent opinions on whether more harmonization of legislation at EU level on environmental crime was needed or whether the focus should be on better enforcement. In a final round, participants provided policy recommendations to the EU legislative framework and for improving investigation, prosecution and enforcement.