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European Parliament:

Illegal timber trade now faces €40 million fine

In a significant move aimed at combating environmental crimes, the European Parliament has passed new regulations that include hefty fines for those involved in the illegal timber trade. The decision comes amidst growing concerns about the impact of such activities on the environment and ecosystems.

During a plenary session held in Strasbourg from February 26 to 29, the European Parliament expanded the list of crimes against the environment to include the trade of timber sourced from illegal sources. This decision follows extensive discussions and negotiations between Parliament and the Council, culminating in the adoption of the directive on environmental offences.

Photo © Björn Birkhahn |

Under the new regulations, offenders involved in the illegal timber trade could face fines of up to €40 million. The severity of the penalty reflects the seriousness with which the European Union views crimes against the environment and underscores the importance of preserving natural resources and ecosystems.

The directive, which was approved by a significant majority in the European Parliament, aims to address various environmental concerns, including the depletion of water resources, violations of EU chemical regulations, and pollution caused by ships. By expanding the scope of environmental crimes and imposing stricter penalties, the EU seeks to deter individuals and businesses from engaging in activities that harm the environment.

In addition to financial penalties, individuals found guilty of environmental offences may also face imprisonment. The length of the sentence will depend on factors such as the extent of the damage caused and the duration of the illegal activity. Notably, the directive introduces the concept of "qualified offences," which encompass egregious environmental crimes such as large-scale forest fires and widespread pollution.

Member states are expected to play a crucial role in implementing and enforcing the new regulations. They will be responsible for prosecuting offences committed within their borders and providing support to individuals reporting environmental crimes. Furthermore, member states will be required to develop national strategies for combating environmental offences and conduct informational campaigns to raise awareness about the issue.

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