Companies committing crimes against the environment would face EU-wide minimum sentences if proposals by the European Commission are backed by European Union Member States. Brussels has deplored an absence of uniformly dissuasive measures, adding that criminals are profiting from discrepancies in member states’ criminal law systems.
Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini explained this would be the first time EU-proposed sentences, which already exist for terrorism and drugs trafficking, were applied to green crimes. He said: “Now in Europe there are too many differences and too big differences between punishment — fines, criminal sanctions — concerning environmental crimes.”
This is a politically sensitive issue touching on the division of powers between national and EU law over criminal penalties. Companies could be fined 1.5 million euros. The heaviest jail sentence would apply to offences committed intentionally that killed or seriously injured people: up to ten years in prison. Firms would also be forced to clean up and directors could be removed from their jobs. The Environment Commissioner said the EU executive would present a separate proposal on pollution by ships.