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Serial polluters must start paying heavily for their crimes


21 Mar 2023



The socialists and democrats today voted to make sure environmental damage is considered a serious and punishable criminal offence in the EU.  

In a vote in the legal affairs committee on the new directive the protection of the environment through criminal law, MEPs decided on new legal definitions for serious environmental crimes in the EU, which would include ecocide, as well as minimum standards for sanctions for breaking the law.

The legal affairs committee want harsher sanctions than those proposed by the Commission in December 2021. Companies and individuals found guilty of crimes against the environment to face a minimum fine of 10% of their annual turnover and prison sentences of between 4 and 10 years, depending on the severity of the crime. Evidence shows that CEOs in general survive environmental lawsuits when their companies are sued for environmental crimes. With this directive, we can end this injustice as the responsibility falls directly on the CEO.

Franco Roberti, S&D negotiator for the protection of the environment through criminal law, said:

“Whether it’s polluting our air, water or soil, if it results in serious harm to people’s health and to the environment then it is a crime and there will be a very heavy price to pay.

“In an ideal world, these new rules would be enough to prevent environmental damage occurring in the first place, but where serial polluters are not discouraged from profiting at the expense of the planet, we need to punish them.

“Socialists and democrats fought hard to include the “polluter pays principle” into this legislation. The costs of pollution on society as a whole are huge, but the small number of individuals lining their pockets clearly don’t care. Taxpayers cannot be expected to foot the bill for any clean-up jobs caused by environmental crimes, and they should certainly not have to pay the long-term price of poorer health or reduced quality of life.”