Sanctioning, Prosecution and Judicial Practice

This Working Group (WG4)  was active as part of the LIFE-ENPE project (2016-2020), comprising 10 members (operational prosecutors and sitting judges) from across 7 different European state. and built on recent studies into the range of criminal and administrative enforcement responses in use throughout Europe. It explored 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 also assessed the circumstances in which each type of sanction best meets the test of being proportionate, effective and dissuasive. Furthermore, it ascertained the main factors that determine this in different situations. It also considered 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 also considered the ongoing practical implications for prosecutors and judges of the Environmental Crime Directive (2008/99/EC). This included 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 operated from 2016-20 and its outputs comprised:

  • 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


Final Report - August 2020

The Final Report for LIFE-ENPE Working Group 4 has been published and is available as a pdf below. The report includes details of all of the groups activities since December 2017 as well as details of all outreach activities including topics discussed in previous interim reports. 

LIFE-ENPE Working Group Interim Reports (First Stage, 2017 and Second Stage 2018)

The outputs from this Working Group are available and provides a detailed summary of the work and conclusions of the first and second years of activity, 2017/18 and 2018/19 as well as related presentations. Please find the reports and presentations as appendices in pdf format below for download and sharing as appropriate.