The killing of elephants for their tusks, the export of harmful waste in contravention of existing regulations, the deliberate discharge of noxious substances from vessels into water bodies or large scale industrial spill accidents can all be considered environmental crimes. Environmental crime damages the environment and often also has a negative impact on people living in affected areas. Environmental crime is sometimes linked to organised crime or corruption. However, due to its nature, environmental crime and its impact are difficult to detect, quantify and counteract.
There are different approaches to combating environmental crime, such as tracking and restricting the movement of certain goods across borders or penalising certain activities. At the EU level, the 2008 Environmental Crime Directive, and the 2005 Ship-Source Pollution Directive are important legal acts. The new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty have created new instruments and opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of EU measures against environmental crime through harmonisation and better co-ordination among Member States.
Effectively combating environmental crimes requires accurate and reliable information on what is going on.
EFFACE aimed help address existing gaps in knowledge. The main research areas of EFFACE were:
- Development of a conceptual framework to lay down the research questions and definitions to be used in the project, drawing on previous research on the matter.
- Conducted an analysis of actors, institutions and instruments yields insights on how the fight against environmental crime has been approached so far within the EU and the strengths and weaknesses of the existing approaches.
- Studied the costs and impacts of environmental crime will be quantified, to the extent feasible, for different types of environmental crime.
- Case studies on various countries shed light at the mechanisms and impacts of different types of environmental crime within and outside of the EU and possible counter-measures.
- In order to develop policy recommendations from the various branches of EFFACE research, a SWOT Analysis was undertaken to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The results of the SWOT analysis allowed for the development of conclusions and policy recommendations.
Through the course of the project, EFFACE has engaged in a dialogue with stakeholders and disseminated its results through various channels.