The development of environmental criminal law in the EU and its member states
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Academic › peer-review
Environmental criminal law has gone through a spectacular evolution in Europe in the past 30years. One change concerns simply the place of environmental criminal law. In many countries provisions have now been incorporated either in a penal code or in a specific environmental statute. Moreover, in many legal systems the environment has received a more autonomous protection in the criminal law system. And finally, one can notice in many countries the introduction of a so-called toolbox approach, implying that a variety of remedies have been put in place, thus reserving the criminal law as an ultima ratio. Yet another important development relates to the fact that Europe also has taken action with respect to environmental criminal law with the Environmental Crime Directive of 2008. It is, however, striking that some of the aforementioned developments in Member States are not reflected in the Directive. Moreover, the enforcement of environmental law faces many more challenges which cannot be faced merely with a criminalization. There is a serious danger that this only leads to symbolic legislation whereby violations of environmental law are criminalized, without any guarantee of effective enforcement. There are therefore still important challenges to be met with respect to the system of environmental criminal law in Europe.