Sanctioning, Prosecution and Judicial Practice

A working group building on recent studies into the range of criminal and administrative enforcement responses in use throughout Europe. It is exploring the effectiveness of different methods to secure compliance with EU environmental law, such as: operator assurance (i.e. voluntary undertakings), administrative sanctions and criminal prosecutions.

It aims to assess the circumstances in which each type of sanction best meets the test of being proportionate, effective and dissuasive. It will ascertain the main factors that determine this in different situations. It will also consider how prosecutors seek to apply different sanctions and what routes to criminal penalties are available. It will consider how judges apply sanctions in criminal and administrative contexts.

The working group is also considering the ongoing practical implications for prosecutors and judges of the Environmental Crime Directive (2008/99/EC). This will include examining whether the Directive has been completely and uniformly implemented and the extent to which continuing differences in sanctioning practice between Member States create opportunities for environmental crime to go unpunished, undermine efficient and effective prosecution and adjudication and undermine other EU policy areas (such as cohesion and the common market). The group will operate from 2016-19 and its outputs will comprise:

  • a written report on the relative effectiveness of different (criminal and non-criminal) sanctions across Europe, including in the context of the Environmental Crime Directive, and the lessons that can be learnt from this - when different sanction regimes work best; what factors determine their effectiveness; how sanctions regimes are successfully applied in practice; and where incomplete implementation of the Directive hinders environmental prosecution
  • presentations on the working group’s interim and final findings
  • suite of training materials addressing the matters set out above, and including:
    • training presentations
    • case studies
    • guidance on minimum standards and best practice