EU agrees tougher penalties for environmental crimes

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Thursday has agreed tougher penalties for environmental crimes such as importing invasive species and pollution caused by ships.

Under the new deal, offences causing death will be punishable with 10 years of prison while firms risk fines of 3 or 5% of their annual worldwide turnover.

The agreement also updated the list of acts related to the environment that qualify as criminal offences in the EU from nine to 18, also including mercury use.

“Environmental crimes are serious, lucrative and on the rise,” EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said.

“Today, we reached a landmark agreement on a new law against environmental crime. This is a big win for the environment and citizens against organised crime,” he said.

The European Parliament and EU member states now have to formally adopt the political agreement before the law enters into force.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; editing by David Evans)