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European Commission proposes to strengthen environmental protection through criminal laws


EU REACH member state

In December 2021, the European Commission adopted the proposal of a new EU Directive aimed at reducing environmental crime. This proposal defines new environmental crimes, obliges Member States to take criminal law measures and sets the minimum level for punishment.

The proposal has a newly set EU environmental criminal offenses (illegal ship recycling, illegal timber trade, illegal abstraction of water) and will make investigations and criminal proceedings more relevant and effective.

In the proposal, penalties have been set for companies that conduct illegal activities.  Some of them include the following:

  • Where the offense cause or is likely to cause death or serious injury to any person, the penalty must be at least for imprisonment of up to ten years.
  • Restoration of environment/nature within a selected period.
  • Denial of access to public funds and business procurement procedures.
  • Withdrawal of administrative permits and business practice disqualification

Fines are expected to be set by Member states to be no less than 5% of a company’s overall (worldwide) turnover. The commission will take the next step by submitting the proposal to the European Parliament and the Council.


Last Update: 2022-01-14