The European Commission has unveiled its plans to combat so-called ‘green crimes’, or crimes against the environment. The most serious offences could be punishable by a prison sentence of 10 years and fines of one and a half million euros. These proposed sanctions would apply to crimes committed intentionally or that kill or injure humans. The plan proposes nine listed offences that would override national laws. They range from dumping toxic waste and the unsafe transport of hazardous materials to harming protected species.
If adopted the package would be one of the first examples of where the EU has been able to create criminal law and establish harmonised penalties. Some critics say the EU just wants to increase its powers. Environmentalists applaud the plan, pointing out that some individual member states currently only impose token fines.