On 18 September 2012 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organized an international seminar on EU Crimes against Environment and Maritime Pollution. The seminar brought together representatives of the judiciary, academics, attorneys, experts and representatives of the civil society from Italy and Bulgaria. The seminar was part of the “Judicial Training and Research on European crimes against the environment and maritime pollution” project, carried out by the University of Salento, in partnership with CSD and Droit au Droit, and with the support pf the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Maria Yordanova, Director of the CSD Law Program, addressed the participants and expressed hopes that the seminar would give new insight to the attendees on the pressing issue of protecting the environment through criminal law means.

Prof. Luigi Melica, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Salento, emphasized the importance of the equal protection, which the preservation of environment should receive throughout the EU. He presented the Italian lecturers of the seminar and noted that they were both part of a new generation of Italian lawyers and professors, working in the area of international law.

Dr. Ercole Aprile, Counselor at the Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy, devoted his presentation to the current issues of the EU competence in the area of criminal law. He pointed out that the relations between EU law and the criminal justice systems of Member States were difficult, because states protected their sovereignty in those matters. Dr. Aprile reviewed the gradual introduction of criminal matters in EU law and the case law of the Court of Justice, as well as the merge of the traditional ‘three pillars’ in the Lisbon Treaty and its impact on the cooperation in criminal matters.

Prof. Ciro Grandi, professor of criminal law in the University of Ferrara, spoke on the international and European legal framework for environmental maritime crime. He noted that the harmonization of the criminal law systems of Member States was extremely important for the implementation of EU policies and the effective counteraction of crime. Prof. Grandi outlined the introduction of the protection of environment in EU legislation and observed that states failed to comply with European standards in this regard on a massive scale. He described the link between environmental and organized crime and reviewed the main legal standards in the area.

In the afternoon session Mr. Svilen Ovcharov, attorney-at-law and member of the Green Lawyers voluntary group, described the legislation and jurisprudence on environmental crime and maritime pollution in Bulgaria. He looked at the elements and scope of the main provisions on such crimes in Bulgarian Criminal Code and outlined the differences between them and other norms of narrower scope. Mr. Ovcharov mentioned the specifics of the key administrative procedures, related to the prosecution of the crimes against the environment, and emphasized that there was almost no case law on those criminal law provisions. Among the reasons for this, he pointed to the fact that those cases were highly atypical in the practice of magistrates and investigative police and they lacked the experience and knowledge in collecting and dealing with the specific evidence for those infringements.

In the ensuing discussion the compliance of Bulgarian legislation with international standards and the cooperation between police and Prosecutor’s Office in investigating environmental crime were elaborated upon. Mr. Ovcharov stated that legislative norms were compliant with the relevant European standards, but their enforcement, as well as effective investigations on those matters, were problematic. Bulgarian and Italian experience was shared in the relations between police and Prosecutor’s Office and comparisons were made between the level of autonomy police had and its subordination to the orders of prosecutors. The liability of legal persons for the commission of crimes was also discussed.

At the end prosecutor Viktor Tarchev from Sofia Regional Prosecutor’s Office presented the project of the Association of Prosecutors in Bulgaria on the increase of the control and the respect of the rules set out in the legislation protecting the environment and the risk management. The project includes the training of prosecutors to train and advise their colleagues throughout the country on those types of crimes, the creation of prosecutors’ network, as well as the design of a manual for assisting the work of magistrates and police in this area.


For more information and recent updates on the project please visit: http://www.judt.unisalento.it/.

*Project "Judicial training and research on EU crimes against environment and maritime pollution - TRAINENV" (JUST/2010/JPEN/AG/1540). Project leader: USAL (IT)