European directive: The crime of ecocide, punishable by 10 years in prison and 5% of the turnover

George Marinescu
English Section / 20 noiembrie

European directive: The crime of ecocide, punishable by 10 years in prison and 5% of the turnover

Versiunea în limba română

Pollution of a river by a company, pollution that would have serious consequences - for example, intoxication of several people or even the death of some of them - will be punished with a maximum of 10 years in prison for the individual responsible and a fine of a maximum of 5% of the global turnover of that company, if the agreement concluded at the end of last week between the European Parliament and the EU Council on a new environmental directive will be adopted by MEPs, Euractiv announces.

Virginijus Sinkevièius, the European Commissioner for the Environment, said, according to the quoted source: "For too long criminals have profited from weak sanctions and lack of enforcement. Through this consolidated law, the EU is intensifying its action".

The agreement concluded last week is to be voted on by the European Parliament in the February 2024 session, after which the EU member states will proceed to implement the new European directive.

Antonius Manders, EPP MEP, the European Parliament's chief negotiator on the directive said: "If you pollute, you will pay for your crimes. Combating pollution, which is often cross-border, requires harmonized, dissuasive and effective sanctions to prevent new environmental crimes at European Union level".

The new rules could lead to a 10-year prison sentence for individuals or company representatives who commit "environmental crimes" that result in the death of victims. The fines could also be much more painful. In addition to losing operating licenses and public subsidies, companies that have committed a serious environmental crime could be fined up to 5% of their global turnover.

However, the text of the agreement is permissive, as member states will be able to choose a penalty rate between 3% and 5% and will be able to opt for fixed fines between 24 million euros and 40 million euros.

We show that initially the members of the environmental committee of the European Parliament had requested a fine of 10% of the global turnover for the companies guilty of ecocide.

Although the sanctions will not be fully harmonized at the level of the 27 member states, what constitutes the crime of ecocide will be uniquely defined, according to the future European directive. For example, the new offenses covered by the directive will include the trading of products related to deforestation, marine pollution and illegal water abstraction.

At the same time, the definition of "qualified" crimes - those that do not directly lead to the death of the victim, but are punishable by up to eight years in prison - will include ecocide.

We note that the crimes considered as ecocide do not include those related to illegal fishing, which has attracted the displeasure of environmental protection organizations, which nevertheless consider the future European directive to be a step forward.

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