The EU is working to bolster its existing environmental crimes legislation. Recently, the European Council and Parliament agreed to a provisional agreement updating the original 2008 statute. The new law doubles the amount of offenses covered and introduces harsher penalties for offenders. The Council’s press release on the new legislation splits penalties into those for people and those for companies.
If a natural person commits an offense covered by the directive, the following penalties apply:
- for intentional offences causing death to any person, a maximum prison term of at least ten years
- for the qualified offence causing catastrophic results, a maximum prison term of at least eight years
- for offences committed with at least serious negligence causing death to any person, a maximum prison term of at least five years
- for other intentional offences included in the legislation, a maximum prison term of either at least five years or at least three years
For “legal persons” (i.e., companies), the following penalties apply:
- for the most serious offences, a maximum fine of at least 5% of the legal person’s total worldwide turnover, or alternatively €40 million
- for all other offences, a maximum fine of at least 3% of the legal person’s total worldwide turnover, or alternatively €24 million”
The new offenses introduced by the legislation include timber trafficking, illegal recycling of polluting components of ships, and serious breaches of chemical handling legislation. The provisional agreement is subject to approval by both the European Council and Parliament before it is published in the EU’s official journal and becomes enforceable.
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