On the 8th of December, the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted conclusions on countering environmental crime. The Council recognised that environmental crime has become one of the world’s most profitable organised criminal activities and has a significant impact not only on the environment, but on society and the economy in general.
An effective fight against environmental crime requires the active exchange of information between law enforcement authorities and also between law enforcement, environmental and administrative authorities of the Member States, as is stated in the Conclusions.
By adopting the conclusions, ministers commit to provide law enforcement and other relevant authorities with sufficient capacity to detect and investigate offences against the environment and involve different investigative techniques and joint approaches to combat environmental crime.
IMPEL’s work in this field in recognised by the Council. The network is invited to increase the number of cooperation projects, including training dedicated to law enforcement in the field of fighting environmental crime, and seek cooperation with ENPE, EUFJE and EnviCrimeNet.
This cross-network collaboration was already initiated during the first joint Environmental Enforcement Networks Conference, held last May in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Continuation is foreseen between these networks in 2017 by again a joint conference, but also targeted activities in the field of nature protection and waste management.
A report launched on the same day by Interpol and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) found that global environmental crime costs between USD 91 and 258 billion annually, making it the fourth largest criminal activity in the world.
In February this year, an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking was published aiming to prevent wildlife trafficking and address its root causes by 2020. An important component in achieving this is more effective implementation and enforcement of existing rules and legislation.