As part of the EFFACE project on the impacts of environmental crime, the Ecologic Institute organized on 21 January 2014 a public workshop on "Instruments, actors and institutions in the fight against environmental crime." The workshop served to better understand which approaches exist on combating environmental crime at the national, EU and international level and which have worked. The workshop involved a number of qualified experts in the field of environmental crime, scientists as well as practitioners representing relevant institutions at national, EU and the international level. The participants developed recommendations how the EU could combat environmental crime more effectively.
Focus: the national level action against environmental crime
The first block of the event focused on the national level action against environmental crime, with Germany and Italy as examples. Practical problems in fighting environmental crime result from overlapping competences and a lack of cooperation between administrative authorities and the criminal prosecution system, fragmentation of legal norms and a large number of actors dealing with environmental offences. A lack of specialized bodies and resulting lack of expertise as well as the complexity of environmental crime cases result in such cases being given lower priority in the criminal justice system than other cases, according to experts.
Focus: the European dimension of combating environmental crime
The second block of the event focused on the European dimension of combating environmental crime. Experts made clear that throughout Europe, environmental crimes are sanctioned with low fines, if at all. The EU's environmental crime directive does not prescribe a certain level of sanctions; the sanctioning practice in EU Member States widely differs and so does the interpretation of central legal terms. For achieving more uniformity, experts stressed the value of horizontal networks among police authorities, prosecution offices.
Focus: the international level action against environmental crime
The event's third block, focusing on the international level, dealt with the contribution of the UN institutions to fighting transnational environmental crime. At the international level, there is also a large number of institutions dealing with certain aspects of combating environmental crime (UNODC, CITES, FAO, UNIDCO, INTERPOL, UNEP, among other). Problems exist among other with regard to data exchange – not all institutions provide easy access to their data to others or the public. The need for a global reach of rules on environmental crime was emphasised, in order to avoid organized crimes to relocate to areas with weaker legislation, enforcement and institutions.
In the last part of the workshop participants provided recommendations for the national, European and international level on how to better fight environmental crime. The results will be included in the work of the EFFACE project.
The external workshop was part of the EFFACE project meeting with all project partners, in which the next steps in the project were discussed.