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European Parliament endorses criminalization of environmental offenses

[JURIST] The European Parliament [official website] Wednesday adopted new rules [EP legislative materials; press release] to criminalize acts that cause serious environmental damage. Among the offenses which could now receive criminal sanctions are the illegal disposal of radioactive substances, waste management practices that harm the environment, and the slaughter or trafficking of protected plants and animals. Under the measure, each EU member state would determine its own penalties for the offenses. AFP has more.

In 2005, the European Court of Justice ruled [text; JURIST report] that the 1992 Treaty on European Union [text] conferred on the EU the power to criminalize environmental offenses. The new regulatory scheme is intended to replace a 2003 framework decision [PDF text] by the European Council [official website], which comprises the EU heads of state. When the plan was proposed in 2007 [JURIST report], EP member Timothy Kirkhope described it as a "significant transfer of power to the commission" that "sets an alarming precedent." The Italian government considered a domestic program [JURIST report] with similar provisions last year.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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