In September 2012, in Brussels, representatives from prosecuting bodies in seven European countries came together to establish the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE). The meeting was attended by representatives from the Environment Agency for England, and from similar bodies in Sweden, France, Belgium, Ireland and Germany. The group was representative of another forty or so corresponding members across Europe who have joined an on line environmental prosecutors’ network. Ms Marianne Wenning, Director of Legal Affairs and Cohesion at Directorate General Environment (DG) Environment, attended the meeting to witness the signing of the statute, and to advise on how the network can best work with the Commission, and with European Union (EU) Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) and EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE). The prosecutors’ network completes the chain of representative bodies across Europe for those involved in tackling environmental crime, from enforcement officers, through to prosecutors and on to judges.
In July 2015 ENPE began a 5-year project developed with the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Community. With partners from the Environment Agency (England); The Environmental Protection Agency (Republic of Ireland); The National Environmental Crimes Unit (Sweden); EUFJE and the Dutch National Prosecutor's Office for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime (Netherlands); this project will establish and extend the ENPE network over the coming years. Funding from the EU Life programme will enable a series of key objectives to be realised to improve consistency in the prosecution of environmental crime across Europe. More recently, on September the 1st 2016, the ENPE organisation was formally incorporated as a Non-Profit International Association, following the provison of a Royal Decree, in Belgium.
The ENPE initiative arose from a conference in Durbuy in Belgium in May 2011, organised by the European Commission, entitled “Combating Environmental Offences”. The conference was organised for the Commission by the judicial training institute of Belgium, the Instituut voor Gerechtelijke Opleiding (IGO) and the Institut de Formation Judiciaire (IFJ). A number of prosecutors from various Member States were brought together to discuss the formation of a prosecutors network along the lines of EUFJE, the judges network. There have been calls for such a network for some time. At their annual conference in October 2010, EUFJE, the European Forum of Judges for the Environment, who were extremely keen to encourage networking and the formation of a prosecutors forum invited prosecutors to a special session at the end of their conference to discuss a way forward. Also the International Network for Compliance and Enforcement in the Environment (INECE) called for a Green Prosecutors’ Network at the conclusion of their 9th International Conference in Vancouver in June 2011.
Aims of ENPE
The Network seeks to:
- support the operative work of environmental prosecutors
- promote the exchange of information and experience of the enforcement and prosecution of environmental crime between members
- foster knowledge of environmental law among prosecutors and promote the development of environmental criminal law as an integral part of criminal law enforcement generally
- share experience of investigations, prosecutions and sanctions in the field of environmental criminal law
- contribute to better understanding, implementation and enforcement of environmental criminal law
- encourage and support co-operation between Members and facilitate capacity building in relation to the prevention and prosecution of environmental crime
- facilitate collection of data about environmental crime across Europe and enforcement action taken in relation to environmental crime
- identify and develop good, and whenever possible, best practice, for successful prosecutions and produce guidance, tools, common standards and approaches to the prosecution of environmental offences
- share training programmes in relation to environmental criminal law.