Directive 2008/99 - Protection of the environment through criminal law

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Current status

This directive was in effect from December 26, 2008 until May 19, 2024 and should have been implemented in national regulation on December 26, 2010 at the latest.


Key information

official title

Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law
Legal instrument Directive
Number legal act Directive 2008/99
Original proposal COM(2007)51 EN
CELEX number i 32008L0099


Key dates

Document 19-11-2008
Publication in Official Journal 06-12-2008; Special edition in Croatian: Chapter 15 Volume 014,OJ L 328, 6.12.2008
Effect 26-12-2008; Entry into force Date pub. + 20 See Art 9
End of validity 19-05-2024; Partial replacement See 32024L1203 Art. 26
Transposition 26-12-2010; At the latest See Art 8.1


Legislative text



Official Journal of the European Union

L 328/28



of 19 November 2008

on the protection of the environment through criminal law

(Text with EEA relevance)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 175(1) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (1),

After consulting the Committee of the Regions,

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty (2),




According to Article 174(2) of the Treaty, Community policy on the environment must aim at a high level of protection.



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.



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.



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



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.



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.



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



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.



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.



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.



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



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.



Member States should provide information to the Commission on the implementation of this Directive, in order to enable it...


This text has been adopted from EUR-Lex.


Original proposal



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