Skip to main content

Environmental crimes - MEPs adopt extended list of offences and sanctions

On 27 February, the EP approved new rules on environmental crimes and related sanctions. The legislation includes an updated list of criminal offences, such as illegal timber trade, water resource depletion, serious breaches of EU chemicals legislation, and ship pollution. The rules also introduce a qualified offence comparable to ecocide, covering large-scale forest fires and widespread air, water, and soil pollution leading to ecosystem destruction.

Penalties including imprisonment and fines

Penalties for individuals and company representatives include imprisonment and fines based on the severity and reversibility of the damage. Qualified offences could result in eight years of imprisonment, while those causing a person’s death could lead to ten years in prison. Offences of a lesser degree may result in up to five years of imprisonment. Offenders must also reinstate and compensate for the damaged environment and may face fines. For companies, penalties could be up to 3 or 5% of their yearly worldwide turnover or 24 or 40 million euros, depending on the nature of the crime. Member states can decide whether to prosecute criminal offences that did not occur on their territory.

Member states to organize training and collect data

MEPs emphasized the need to support whistleblowers reporting environmental offences and to provide specialized training for law enforcement and legal professionals. Member states are also tasked with preparing national strategies and organizing awareness-raising campaigns to combat environmental crime. Data collected by EU governments about environmental offences will be used to address this issue, with the Commission updating the list regularly.

Next steps

The directive will come into force twenty days after its publication in the EU Official Journal, and member states will have two years to transpose the rules into their national systems.

For inquiries please contact:

RBI Regulatory Advisory

Raiffeisen Bank International AG | Member of RBI Group | Am Stadtpark 9, 1030 Vienna, Austria  | Tel: +43 1 71707 - 5923