Commission has right to propose sanctions for environmental crimes

In a groundbreaking judgement for EU law in general, the ECJ decided on 13 September to annul the Council’s 2003 Framework Decision on the protection of the environment through criminal law.

The European Court of Justice’s ruling will allow the Commission to strengthen its legislative proposals by introducing criminal sanctions for breaches of EU law. The Court case was started after the Council replaced a 2001 Commission’s draft directive with its own weaker Framework Decision. If adopted the proposed draft directive would have given the commission the power to push member states to punish environmental crimes. 

However, some member states did not want any interference of the Commission in their criminal law and therefore adopted a Framework Decision, which falls under the third, intergovernmental pillar.

The Court has now annulled the Framework Decision. Commission President Barroso greeted the judgement saying it strengthens the EU’s chances of enforcing laws once they have been agreed by the member states. EU diplomats were not immediately ready to comment on the ruling. It is as yet unclear if the commission will reintroduce its 2001 proposal.

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