EU Adopts Directive on Criminal Sanctions for Environmental Law Violations

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Friday, June 1, 2001
Bruce Zagaris
On March 13, 2001, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive that for the first time would introduce criminal sanctions for breaches of environmental law at an EU level. The proposal responds to the most serious breaches of European Community environmental law as follows: (a) Member States will decide the criminal penalties for breaches of environmental rules, under their own systems of criminal law; (b) the Commission’s proposal only concerns intentional damage to the environment or damage caused by serious negligence, which means not all pollution would be considered a crime; and (c) the Directive will cover offenses that are already expressly prohibited by existing EU environmental law…[more]