Malta not implementing EU rules on environmental crimes

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Malta not implementing EU rules on Environmental crimesThe European Commission has given 13 Member States, including Malta, two months to transpose EU rules laying down criminal penalties against sea pollution and other environmental offences. Directive 2008/99/EC on criminal law measures to protect the environment should have been introduced in national law by 26 December 2010. However, 10 countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia) have so far failed to do so.

Meanwhile, eight states (Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia) have failed to comply with separate rules on pollution from ships. This Directive (2009/123/EC) was due to be implemented by 16 November 2010. Should the Member States concerned fail to notify the Commission of implementation measures within two months, it may refer the cases to the EU’s Court of Justice.

Criminal sanctions for environmental offences

Directive 2008/99/EC on protecting the environment through criminal law aims to ensure that criminal law measures are available in all Member States to react to serious breaches of EU rules on environmental protection. The Directive includes a list of breaches which have to be considered a criminal offence in all Member States, such as the illegal shipment of waste or the trade in endangered species.

Criminal sanctions for pollution from ships

Directive 2009/123/EC on ship-source pollution is part of a set of EU rules to reinforce maritime safety and help prevent pollution from ships. It requires Member States to consider serious and illicit discharges of polluting substances from ships as a criminal offence.

Both directives require Member States to ensure that the criminal offences are punishable with “effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties.”

Failure by Member States to implement the directives makes it impossible to have common minimum criminal law rules for serious breaches of EU legislation on the protection of the environment and against ship-source pollution. Such EU wide rules are essential to prevent loopholes which could otherwise be exploited by perpetrators of environmental crimes.

Today’s ‘reasoned opinions’ are the second stage in the three-step infringement process.

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