CrisisWatch

Economic crisis undermines capacity to fight environmental crime

Environmental law enforcement being the responsibility of states, the financial crisis has further weakened certain national authorities in their fight against environmental crime.

According to a February 2016 policy brief issued by the EFFACE (European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime):

One overarching challenge is that the implementation of environmental law is a responsibility that is left up to the individual MS. The EU itself does not have the authority to enforce the provisions outlined in the EU’s legal framework and tools. As a result, the operation of enforcement institutions at the MS level varies and is uneven across the EU. Some MS have special investigative units while others have no environmental crime specialization. Evidence shows that many environmental crimes are not investigated or prosecuted by enforcement institutions for reasons of limited awareness, lack of resources and expertise, and complexity of establishing causality of environmental crime. The lack of financial resources is identified as a significant weakness or barrier to enforcement; this situation has become exacerbated in the recent financial crisis, at least in some MS”.

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Police highlights EU environmental criminality as ‘emerging threat’

Reports published this summer by Interpol and Europol ring the alarm of rising environmental crime in Europe, as a result of the financial crisis. The causes of this emerging crisis are identified as: 

a) The low cost – high profit character of environmental crimes, particularly in the areas of water pollution with industrial discharge and illegal waste disposal. 

b) The reduced capacity of law enforcement authorities to effectively combat the growing number of serious environmental law violations, due to financial problems.

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