Austrian Ministry of Justice Wants Better European Cooperation in the Area of Justice

PeopleOther ♦ Published: June 9, 2022; 17:59 ♦ (Vindobona)

Justice and Home Affairs Ministers are discussing stricter environmental criminal law, better international cooperation on criminal offenses and Russia sanctions in the European Council. The Austrian Ministry of Justice under Alma Zadic welcomes stricter prosecution of environmental crimes and a united effort to sanction Russian oligarchs.

Justice Minister Zadic advocates greater cooperation in Europe in the area of justice. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Andy Wenzel

The Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of the European Union are discussing environmental criminal law, better international cooperation on environmental crimes and standardization of prosecuting the assets of Russian oligarchs. Austria calls for better European cooperation in these fields of law.

Austria welcomes better cooperation in the European Union to sanction Russian oligarchs.

The Austrian government, more precisely the Ministry of Justice, welcomes a stricter environmental law on an international, especially European level.

Sanctions against Russian oligarchs

Justice Minister Alma Zadic has described the EU Commission's proposal for a simplified confiscation of Russian oligarchs' assets as a reasonable step.

According to the ORF, Zadic expressed her concerns, that due to the inconsistent regulations across Europe, there may well be gaps in the prosecution against Russian oligarchs. Therefore, Zadic demanded, that there is a need for standardization in terms of penalties and offenses.

The EU Commission has proposed making evading sanctions a criminal offense across the EU. According to Zadic, Russian billionaires close to the Kremlin have so far circumvented sanctions by, for example, bringing yachts into international waters or transferring assets to other owners.

According to the ORF, the EU justice ministers are discussing the issue, but there is said to be no agreement yet. They "will have to turn a lot of screws," Zadic said. At the same time, she expressed her conviction "that there will also be some convergence on this issue."

Austria wants better Prosecution of Environmental Criminal law

Austrian Justice Minister Alma Zadic expressed her concerns ahead of the Justice Ministers' meeting, "We need new criminal offenses to make crimes against our environment more punishable. This is what I will be advocating today at the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Luxembourg."

According to the Austrian ministry of justice, Austria has fully implemented the last EU directive on environmental criminal law and supports the Commission's current plan to introduce stricter environmental criminal law.

Alma Zadic commended this positive development in Austrian efforts to protect the environment and stated that more needs to be done. Justice Minister Zadic said, "The relatively low number of indictments and convictions for environmental crimes are a sign that improvements are needed in this area. Environmental offenders should be able to be held accountable for their actions throughout Europe. That is why I support a European solution and am pleased that the French Presidency wants to do something about this."

According to the Austrian Ministry of Justice, Zadic is lobbying at the EU Council level to ensure that the new Environmental Criminal Law Directive also places greater responsibility on companies.

Justice Minister Zadic emphasized "the reckless treatment of the environment by companies in Austria and Europe". Further, the minister stated that "the fight against environmental sinners and polluters must be a priority. They must take responsibility - deterrent penalties are also needed for companies throughout the EU."

Zadic for stronger cooperation in Europe

Justice Minister Zadic advocates greater cooperation in Europe in the field of justice and therefore called for cooperation for common European solutions to global challenges.

In addition to environmental criminal law, the meeting focused on strengthening cooperation between EU countries in criminal matters in general.

"Especially in these challenging times, I welcome the EU's ambitions to continue strengthening international cooperation in criminal matters - whether it is cross-border cooperation in the face of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine or the fight against environmental crime and hate crimes, a European solution is needed. Austria will make its contribution here," concluded the Justice Minister.

Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice