Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law
Directive 20008/99/EC on the protection of the environment was adopted in October 2008 and will have to be transposed by Member States by December 2010.
The directive requires Member States to treat as criminal offences certain activities that breach EU environmental legislation.
These offences include the illegal shipment of waste, trade in endangered species or in ozone-depleting substances, and the significant deterioration of wildlife habitats forming part of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites. Furthermore, significant damage to the environment caused by unlawful emissions to the air, water or soil, the unlawful operation of dangerous activities (including manufacture or handling of nuclear materials) or the unlawful treatment of waste will also be considered criminal offences.
Member States will have to subject these offences to effective, dissuasive and proportionate criminal penalties.
They will also have to ensure that companies can be held liable for offences carried out by individuals but from which they benefit.
The Commission presented a proposal for a directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law on 9 February 2007.
Impact Assessment (pdf ~170K)
2. European Parliament and Council
In the European Parliament the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on the Environment Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Legal Affairs gave their opinion on the Commission's proposal:
On 21 May 2008 the European Parliament adopted its final position, endorsing the Commission's proposal with some amendments:
The amendments were fully accepted by the Council.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council formally adopted the directive on 24 October 2008.
3. Judgments of the European Court of Justice