The EU networks of environmental regulators (IMPEL), police (EnviCrimeNet), environmental prosecutors (ENPE) and environmental judges (EUFJE) released a joint statement in which they call on the EU institutions and the Member States to support the effective enforcement of environmental rules and to better protect the environment.
Specialisation in environmental law is absolutely crucial throughout the enforcement chain. Not only the administration, but also police, prosecutors and judges should have specialised units for environmental cases; they should be organised in a structural way and anchored in law.
The 8th round of mutual evaluations (GENVAL) was devoted to the practical implementation and operation of the European policies on prevention and combating environmental crime. In the course of 2017 and 2019 the EU member states were evaluated in this regard.
At the Justice session of the EU Council on 3 December 2019 the Council took note of the final report and of the importance of enhancing the fight against environmental crime.
The main conclusions of the report are the following:
- There is a general lack of priority at political level to prevent and fight effectively against environmental crime in the majority of Member States.
- In most Member States, statistics in the area of environmental crime are insufficient and fragmented and this leads to a lack of information and analysis of the entire flow of cases from the administrative authorities, the police, the prosecutor’s offices and the courts.
- The complexity of the challenges posed by environmental crime, and the technical nature of such crime require a high level of legal knowledge, technical expertise and a high level of specialization in all the competent authorities involved in countering these forms of crime.
In most Member States, on the one hand, no specialized judicial structures exist to deal with environmental crime, and, on the other hand, no specialized prosecutor or judge is assigned specifically to deal with criminal cases in this area.
- A lack of human resources results in a low number of checks and of specific investigations. The detection rate for environmental crime is consequently quite low and in certain cases the prosecution of cases of these crimes, is statistically irrelevant.
The report recommends a higher level of prioritization at political and strategic level, in order to ensure that there is an efficient monitoring and enforcement system in this area.
Specialisation in environmental law is absolutely crucial throughout the enforcement chain. Police forces, prosecutors and judges working on the cases should all be specialised. Specialisation of the courts in environmental law is crucial, as they are the final link of the enforcement chain.
The networks strongly believe that specialisation of the courts, more amalgamation, more comprehensive jurisdiction and a multidisciplinary approach will contribute to outcomes that are better for the citizens, society and the environment. That specialisation should be organised in a structural way and anchored in law.
Without a strong enforcement chain, environmental laws remain dead letter laws, public confidence and awareness are low, while the environment keeps degrading at a rapid and possibly irreversible pace. Therefore, the EU networks of environmental regulators (IMPEL), police (EnviCrimeNet), environmental prosecutors ‘ENPE) and environmental judges (EUFJE) call on the EU institutions and the Member States to support the effective enforcement of environmental rules and to better protect the environment.
Lt Col Fabio De Rosa, President of EnviCrimeNet Kristina Rabe, Chair of IMPEL
Anne Brosnan, President of ENPE Prof.Dr. Luc Lavrysen, President of EUFJE
Contact person: Jan Van den Berghe +32 472 90 89 37