Under the plans, people could face jail not only for dumping toxic and nuclear waste but also for illegally trading in endangered plants or species.
It marks an extension of the EU’s powers, following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2005.
Criminal law is a competence jealously guarded by the 27 member states.
The proposals must first be approved by member states and the European Parliament to become law…
The directive also takes in the illegal trade in endangered species, the “unlawful significant deterioration to a protected habitat”, and the unlawful use of ozone-depleting substances.
Most of the offences would be punishable by one to three years in prison. However, that could rise to five years if there was negligence or if the offences caused death or serious injury.
And for offences committed intentionally, the maximum penalty foreseen is 10 years in prison. Fines could go as high as 750,000 euros (£500,000).
The environmental pressure group Greenpeace welcomes the plan but says it does not go far enough.
Grenpeace would say that, wouldn’t it?