Considerations on COM(2007)51 - Protection of the environment through criminal law

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dossier COM(2007)51 - Protection of the environment through criminal law.
document COM(2007)51 EN
date December 26, 2008
table>(1)According to Article 174(2) of the Treaty, Community policy on the environment must aim at a high level of protection.
(2)The Community is concerned at the rise in environmental offences and at their effects, which are increasingly extending beyond the borders of the States in which the offences are committed. Such offences pose a threat to the environment and therefore call for an appropriate response.

(3)Experience has shown that the existing systems of penalties have not been sufficient to achieve complete compliance with the laws for the protection of the environment. Such compliance can and should be strengthened by the availability of criminal penalties, which demonstrate a social disapproval of a qualitatively different nature compared to administrative penalties or a compensation mechanism under civil law.

(4)Common rules on criminal offences make it possible to use effective methods of investigation and assistance within and between Member States.

(5)In order to achieve effective protection of the environment, there is a particular need for more dissuasive penalties for environmentally harmful activities, which typically cause or are likely to cause substantial damage to the air, including the stratosphere, to soil, water, animals or plants, including to the conservation of species.

(6)Failure to comply with a legal duty to act can have the same effect as active behaviour and should therefore also be subject to corresponding penalties.

(7)Therefore, such conduct should be considered a criminal offence throughout the Community when committed intentionally or with serious negligence.

(8)The legislation listed in the Annexes to this Directive contains provisions which should be subject to criminal law measures in order to ensure that the rules on environmental protection are fully effective.

(9)The obligations under this Directive only relate to the provisions of the legislation listed in the Annexes to this Directive which entail an obligation for Member States, when implementing that legislation, to provide for prohibitive measures.

(10)This Directive obliges Member States to provide for criminal penalties in their national legislation in respect of serious infringements of provisions of Community law on the protection of the environment. This Directive creates no obligations regarding the application of such penalties, or any other available system of law enforcement, in individual cases.

(11)This Directive is without prejudice to other systems of liability for environmental damage under Community law or national law.

(12)As this Directive provides for minimum rules, Member States are free to adopt or maintain more stringent measures regarding the effective criminal law protection of the environment. Such measures must be compatible with the Treaty.

(13)Member States should provide information to the Commission on the implementation of this Directive, in order to enable it to evaluate the effect of this Directive.

(14)Since the objective of this Directive, namely to ensure a more effective protection of the environment, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale and effects of this Directive, be better achieved at Community level, the Community may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.

(15)Whenever subsequent legislation on environmental matters is adopted, it should specify where appropriate that this Directive will apply. Where necessary, Article 3 should be amended.

(16)This Directive respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles as recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,