Brussels: Committee on Petitions – EP study on illegal deforestation in Romania – Renew Vlad Gheorghe’s European Parliament speech (09.11.2021).

I thank the Committee and Dr. Kindji for this study which confirms the harmful effects of illegal logging.

Illegal logging is not just an environmental crime, but simply a crime.
It destroys habitat and biodiversity. It brings soil degradation and leads to natural disasters. It affects the quality of the air we breathe.

It is a major factor in climate change.

It makes criminals rich, but prejudices the public budget.

It is associated with corruption, money laundering and other serious offences.

But most importantly, illegal logging takes lives.

Honest rangers, environmental activists, journalists who want to stop it are attacked and often killed.
Therefore, it is unthinkable that illegal logging is not yet acknowledged as an environmental crime at Union level.

As this study reveals, we need a stricter wood regime. Stricter reporting obligations for national authorities. And monitoring is essential – for safety, it should be done by satellite at European level.

I am a lawyer and I insist that we need a unitary definition of illegal logging as an environmental crime in all Member States. We need to raise the level of sanctions – and make it the same everywhere in the EU. We need to train police officers and investigators specializing in environmental crime, who apply the same rules in prosecuting the cases. And let their jurisdiction be European – deforestation in one country affects the whole of the Union.

So far, the punishment of deforestation favors criminals, who rightly believe that not much is happening to them. That must stop NOW.
The European Union will have to allocate more funds to fight environmental crime – otherwise our climate change goals will fail. We need to review the EU Timber Regulation. Governments must be required to correctly and completely report deforestation data to Europol.

One of the recommendations of the study is the establishment of the European Green Prosecutor for the implementation of EU environmental legislation. I am convinced that this is the solution. The Green Prosecutor will support Member States in investigations, coordinate cross-border operations, bring criminals to justice, exchange information and good practices, and introduce law enforcement innovations.

Please, do support all the recommendations of this study to combat environmental crime.

Thank you.


Illegal logging in Romania takes lives!

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