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EU Green Week
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Strengthening environmental rule of law through effective fight against environmental crime

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Environmental crime causes significant damage to the environment, human health and economy within and beyond the EU. It seriously undermines rules and efforts aimed at safeguarding biodiversity and curbing pollution.

Combating environmental crime is an aspect of what the United Nations Environmental Programme calls the ‘environmental rule of law’, i.e. a situation in which laws are widely understood, respected and enforced and the benefits of environmental protection are enjoyed by people and the planet. 

To improve compliance with EU environmental law through the means of criminal law, the European Commission tabled a landmark initiative for a new Environmental Crime Directive. This new Directive will ensure that the most serious environmental infringements are tackled as criminal offences and that a strong enforcement and sanctioning regime is put in place. Strengthening the role of individual citizens and the civil society in fighting environmental crimes is another key enabler to strengthen the environmental rule of law. The proposed directive provides for specific provisions to protect citizens who report environmental crimes and support public enforcement.

The session will show that a strong and clear criminal-law legislative framework is necessary but not sufficient for success. Effective systems of law enforcement, a holistic strategic approach and the mobilisation of all relevant actors are also needed. Awareness will be raised on the different categories of environmental crime and their devastating impacts as well as on what is necessary to effectively tackle them. The global scale of environmental crime and the links to organised crime will also be discussed.

  • environmental protection
  • -
  • Brussels, Belgium


Practical information

Charlemagne building, JENKINS room
Brussels, Belgium