PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH
Draft Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law.
||Article 175 (1) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 14 November 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 6 (17 October 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
||Legally and politically important
||Cleared, but further information requested
11.1 The draft Directive aims to establish criminal
offences for certain acts relating to the environment, whether
committed intentionally or through serious negligence, and in
breach of Community law protecting the environment. It would oblige
Member States to set effective, dissuasive and proportionate penalties
for these offences, including imprisonment in serious cases.
11.2 When we last considered this document, in
October, we left it uncleared, noting that there did not seem
to have been many developments since it was deposited. We agreed
with the Government that the criminal law aspects of environmental
protection were matters for Member States, subject to any measures
taken under the EU's Third Pillar,and
not within the competence of the Community. We asked to be kept
informed of the progress of negotiations, especially in relation
to the competence issue.
The Minister's letter
11.3 We have now received a letter from the Parliamentary
Under- Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth),
addressing questions from Lord Brabazon of Tara on this proposal.
Lord Brabazon had asked about the likely impact of the draft Directive,
noting that the Minister had been unable to respond to our question
about the likely resources needed to implement and monitor the
measure. In reply the Minister says:
"The Government has undertaken an extensive
cross-departmental consultation and I can confirm that the exercise
has so far shown that the draft Directive is unlikely to create
new offences. The Government believes that it is unlikely that
changes to current legislation will be required. The Government
cannot, at present, put a figure on implementation and monitoring
costs but given the points mentioned above on new offences and
changes required, it is unlikely that these will be significant."
11.4 Like us, our sister Committee in the House
of Lords raised concerns about the competence issue; it asked
for the Minister's view on the way forward. The Minister says
that he can add little to his earlier response, but then continues:
"The Government considers that one way forward
would be to use the model adopted for the instruments on unauthorised
entry, transit and residence.
Thus, a Directive would stipulate the conduct to be prohibited
and would provide that the conduct should be subject to effective,
proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. An accompanying Framework
Decision would provide that the conduct is subject to criminal
sanctions and would set out the provisions on jurisdiction. The
Government takes the view that others can be persuaded that this
is an acceptable way forward."
11.5 Although there still does not seem to
have been much progress in negotiations, the Minister's response
goes some way to addressing our chief concerns the likely
cost of the measure, and the issue of Community competence. We
agree with the Government that the combination of a Directive
and a Framework Decision, while cumbersome, would constitute a
11.6 We are now content to clear the document.
However, we ask the Minister to let us know what consultation
took place with the Scottish Executive on the document, and how
any matters raised by the Scottish Executive were dealt with.
We would also still like to be kept informed of progress on the
document, and, if it is recast as the Minister suggests, we shall,
of course, require the new documents to be deposited with an Explanatory
51 i.e. inter-governmental co-operation in the field
of Justice and Home Affairs. Back
13739/00; see HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 7 (18 July 2001). Back