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In a landmark decision that sends a powerful message across the globe, the European Union has dramatically ramped up its fight against environmental offenses. As of November 16, the EU has unanimously agreed to impose significantly tougher penalties for a range of environmental crimes. This bold move signals a new era of accountability and environmental stewardship within the bloc.

Source: DW News/YouTube

Key among these new measures is the decision to increase punishments for severe environmental crimes. Now, offenses leading to death will face penalties of up to 10 years in prison, marking a significant escalation in the seriousness with which these crimes are treated. Additionally, companies found guilty of such violations could face crippling fines, amounting to 3 or 5% of their annual worldwide turnover.

This groundbreaking agreement also expands the scope of what constitutes an environmental crime within the EU. The list of acts qualifying as criminal offenses has doubled, from nine to a staggering 18. Notably, this includes the illegal use of mercury and the importing of invasive species, alongside Pollution caused by ships.

EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius hailed this development as a major victory for both the environment and public welfare. He emphasized the increasing severity and profitability of environmental crimes, underscoring the need for robust legal action. “Environmental crimes are serious, lucrative, and on the rise,” Sinkevicius stated, adding that the new law is a critical step in combating organized crime that harms the environment.

Before this groundbreaking legislation takes effect, it awaits formal adoption by the European Parliament and EU member states. Once in force, it will mark a pivotal moment in the EU’s environmental policy, potentially setting a precedent for nations worldwide to follow suit in the urgent battle to protect our planet.

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