EU and US agree new campaign to tackle environmental crime

Public prosecutors from the United States and the European Union have agreed to closer co-operation as they target major cross-border and intercontinental environmental crime.

Senior figures from the US and EU member states attended a dedicated liaison meeting, hosted by Eurojust, at which officials devised and agreed a process to set environmental crime priorities for operational action, criminal intelligence sharing, and developing cooperation tools and mechanisms to exchange information and best practices.

The liaison meeting at Eurojust brought together representatives of the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), the Directorates General for Justice and Environment of the European Commission, the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE), Eurojust and Europol. Eurojust has regular contact with ENPE. The United States is one of the ten countries outside the EU that has a Liaison Prosecutor at Eurojust

The agreement has highlighted areas where all sides believe there is increased need for tougher action and sanctions. Marine and maritime pollution, such as major oil spills, plastic and waste dumping at sea and environmental damage caused by ship source pollution, has been flagged as an area of particular concern.

The prosecutors said waste crime, including industrial pollution by enterprises active in both the EU and the US, will come under new scrutiny, as will wildlife crime, such as the illegal trafficking of protected species

The agreement contains specific actions around the detection and prosecution of those in the Illegal timber trade, and those enterprises which are deemed to cause pollution of controlled waters and soil contamination. Air pollution, including reducing illegal use of CO2 producing gases, such as CFCs and HFCs, will also see renewed focus, and the delegates agreed that the environment and the risks its faces has to be placed higher up the agenda, given the impact it is having.

The meeting was a scheduled follow up on the commitment by EU and US justice and home affairs ministers meeting in June at which all sides had pledged  to intensify cooperation against environmental crime, with a view to protecting the environment and combating climate change.

“These established contacts and liaisons will play a key role in enabling strategic and operational cooperation to combat environmental crime,” said a spokesperson for the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation.  “For this purpose, regular meetings between such officials are to be held. Eurojust and ENPE will provide organisational, operational and logistical support to this cooperation.”