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European Commission - Press release

Compensation to crime victims: Greece complies with Court of Justice ruling, adopts EU law

Brussels, 27 February 2012 - The European Commission welcomes that Greece has adopted into national legislation a European Union Directive on compensating crime victims. Greece has complied with a ruling by the European Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) of 31 March 2011 and paid the Commission a 3 million penalty for ignoring a previous ECJ ruling for not implementing the EU rules. As a result, the Commission is now closing the infringement case against Greece.

In addition, the Commission welcomes that the Czech Republic, Greece and Lithuania have implemented EU rules laying down criminal penalties against sea pollution and other environmental offences (see IP/11/739). As a result, the Commission can now close the infringement cases against these countries.

The Directive on criminal law measures to protect the environment should have been introduced into national law by 26 December 2010.

The latest moves by the Czech Republic and Lithuania mean that all Member states have now complied with separate rules on pollution from ships.

Background

Compensation to crime victims

Directive 2004/80/EC establishes important rights for state compensation for victims of violent intentional crimes everywhere in Europe. This Directive has improved the situation in those Member States which have implemented its provisions since 1 January 2006. The Commission decided to sue Greece at the ECJ for failing to implement this measure. On 31 March 2011 the ECJ levied a 3 million penalty on Greece (case C-407/09) for failing to comply with a previous Court ruling to implement the EU law.

Last year, the Commission proposed a package of measures that builds on existing EU legislation and strengthens the rights of victims (see IP/11/585). The Commission is working on other initiatives to foster victims' rights and in particular to further improve the compensation of those victims.

Criminal sanctions for environmental offences

Directive 2008/99/EC on protecting the environment through criminal law aims at ensuring that criminal law measures are available in all Member States to react to serious breaches of EU rules on environmental protection. The Directive includes a list of breaches that have to be considered a criminal offence in all Member States, such as the illegal shipment of waste or the trade in endangered species.

Criminal sanctions for pollution from ships

Directive 2009/123/EC (amending Directive 2005/35/EC) on ship-source pollution is part of a set of EU rules that reinforce maritime safety and help prevent pollution from ships. It requires Member States to consider serious and illicit discharges of polluting substances from ships as a criminal offence.

Both directives require Member States to ensure that the criminal offences are punishable with "effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties."

Failure by Member States to implement the Directives makes it impossible to have common minimum criminal law rules for serious breaches of EU legislation on the protection of the environment and against ship-source pollution. Such EU wide rules are essential to prevent loopholes which could otherwise be exploited by perpetrators of environmental crimes.

For more information

MEMO/12/134

See IP/11/739

Justice Directorate General Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/news/intro/news_intro_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Matthew Newman (+32 2 296 24 06)

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)


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