Chapter 21: The Legal Basis for Harmonisation of Environmental Criminal Law in the EU: Past and Future Challenges
Ricardo Pereira* I Introduction The debate over the appropriate legal basis of a legislative measure harmonising environmental criminal law in the European Union is regarded as being of the highest political importance, since the competence to define criminal offences and penalties has traditionally been regarded as belonging to the sphere of sovereignty of the nation State. However the need to combat crimes effectively, in particular transnational crimes, has been recognised by the governments of the EU Member States as a political priority following the abolition of internal border checks within the EU Member States. The importance of co-operation in criminal matters (including, when necessary, harmonisation of criminal law) was hence stressed during the Tampere European Council in 1999 and the 2004 Hague Programme and Action Plan.1 Before the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, the Member States appeared to regard co-operation in criminal matters (including legislative harmonisation) as belonging to the third pillar of the EU (created by the 1993 Treaty on the European Union), being intergovernmental and hence lacking supranational controls. However this view has been open to challenge and the outcome of two legal actions brought by the European Commission against the Council is that legislative measures harmonising environmental criminal law in * Lecturer in Environmental and Energy Law, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, UK. 1 For an overview see Elsen (2007), ‘From Maastricht to the Hague: the Politics of Judicial and Police Cooperation’, ERA Forum 13. The Tampere Programme, unlike the Hague programme, expressly...
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