On May 12 and 13, 2016, the first EU Environmental Enforcement Networks Conference took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, jointly organised by four EU environmental networks: the Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of EU Environmental Law (IMPEL); the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE); the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE); and EnviCrimeNet, an informal network of police officers focusing on tackling environmental crime.
The conference “Strengthening environmental compliance: Challenges and solutions” covered all aspects of the environmental compliance chain, and participants included judges, prosecutors, police officers, inspectors, permit writers, lawyers and policy makers.
Recent research, and an analysis of responses from environmental regulators across Europe on practical implementation, have highlighted a number of challenges. Two key areas are the lack of (human and financial) resources; and weak enforcement and insufficient penalties and sanctions. In an era of resource scarcity, we must be ready to innovate, to improve our efficiency and effectiveness, and to learn from others. In order to strengthen enforcement, we must learn how to strengthen the links in the compliance chain and improve communication between the four key actors: practitioners (permit writers and inspectors), police, prosecutors and judges.
By bringing together members of networks involved at all stages of the environmental compliance chain, this conference presented practical solutions and best practices from Europe and the rest of the world. The Themis Network contributed to this landmark initiative by facilitating the participation of judges and prosecutors from its member countries.