Four Networks Conference Statement 03 October 2023
This conference builds on the success of the last 4 Networks online event – Together in the fight against environmental crime in 2021 as well as the two previous conferences held in person in Oxford in 2017 and Utrecht in 2016. Environmental crime is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world and we note, at a global level, the progressive worsening of the situation, as recorded in reports from many institutions.
The practitioners who work daily in the fight against environmental crime have, over the years, made major efforts to implement the Environmental Crime Directive in force, Directive 2008/99/EC, but there have been too many obstacles to its practical implementation which have prevented criminal environmental law from being effective. This has in turn led to the work by the EU Commission on the new Environmental Crime Directive (hereafter “ECD”).
We welcome the proposal prepared by the Commission to replace the ECD and highlight the importance of the framework it brings, which will benefit the work of legislators, permit writers, inspectors, police and customs authorities, prosecutors, and judges. The cooperation and feedback between all elements of the environmental compliance chain strengthens our strategies, plans, programs, procedures, and acJons. Most of all it increases the probability of successful cases in pracJce, in the context of environmental crime, together with administrative and civil contraventions.
Other new initiatives from the European Commission to address climate change, and environmental degradation such as the European Green Deal will be immensely important for the well-being and health of citizens and future generations. In all situations the rule of law needs to be upheld, and conditions established to ensure the proper enforcement of environmental law by practitioners, on a daily basis. This is for us now, more than ever, a crucial challenge. In this conference we aimed to improve our collaboration and the alignment of our enforcement activities.