Written by 15 h 02 min Advocacy, Environment and Climate, Legal Doctrine Articles, Research and Studies

Focus on: Can the proposed European directive on environmental crime increase prosecutions and sanctions for multinationals?

13 September 2023 In December 2021, the European Commission published a proposal to revise the Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law. While negotiations between the Council, the Commission and the Parliament (“trilogues”) are underway, Sherpa publishes its analysis and recommendations on five key points of the upcoming legislation.

Environmental crime is the world’s third most lucrative criminal business. Environmental offences, due to their collective and transnational nature, may be committed by organised criminal groups, but also multinationals unrelated to organised criminal networks. The legal actions initiated by Sherpa and its partners, linked to environmental harms committed by multinationals abroad, reveal that environmental criminal law lack effectiveness to sanction such harms.

The Commission’s proposal aims to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations and prosecutions and to ensure deterring sanctions. The directive adopted in 2008 was considered ineffective in combating environmental crime.

As currently drafted, however, the proposal falls short of what is at stake. In its general approach adopted late 2022, the Council further reduced the text’s scope. Last March, the Parliament adopted its position, which presented significant improvements.

Sherpa presents its analysis and recommendations on five key points: the definition of environmental offences, the liability of legal personsy, the sanctions applicable to legal persons, the jurisdiction of European courts for offences committed abroad and the legal action of associations and victims in environmental matters.

Last modified: 13 September 2023