Environmental crime in the EU: Is there a need for further harmonisation?" was the topic of the meeting at Europol headquarters in which participants examined the desirability and implications of harmonised enforcement and judicial guidelines to combat environmental crimes such as illegal waste disposal, animal trafficking, IUU fishing and illegal logging.
The purpose of this workshop was to discuss which route European environmental criminal law should take to contribute to better enforcement of the rules against environmental crime. One possible route is further harmonisation while another possibility would be to get more grip on the way in which inspections take place in Member States, which would, for example, be a benchmarking of monitoring and inspection activities by a European environmental agency, or a network like IMPEL (EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental law). Yet, another question is whether a mandatory system of data collection should be put in place as a result of which there would be more reliable data, e.g. on the number of classified installations, inspections, violations and remedies.
Against this background, the workshop discussed, mong others, the following questions from a legal and economic perspective:
- Will, given the economic theory of federalism, a mere further harmonisation of environmental criminal law (e.g. of penalties) reduce differences in enforcement levels between Member States?
- What are the exact powers allocated to the European institutions with respect to further harmonisation in the area of criminal law, but also with respect to related areas such as inspections, monitoring and prosecution?
- Is it desirable and possible to create a harmonised, mandatory system of data collection on environmental crime?
- Through which kind of mechanisms can it be guaranteed that inspections and monitoring take place under similar conditions in the various Member States? Is benchmarking of inspection activities a solution? If so, who should undertake such a benchmarking?
- How has the EU used its powers to define the type or size of penalties in other policy areas, e.g. the directive with respect to criminal penalties in the field of market manipulation and insider trading?
Please click here for the presentation slides and report from the workshop.