Sirpa

I am Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish Member of the European Parliament representing the European People’s Party (EPP) since 2008. I was Finland’s Minister of Environment from 1991 to 1995 and a Member of the Finnish Parliament from 1983 to 2003.

At the European Parliament, I am a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) and the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM), as well as substitute in the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI).

I have been the rapporteur and shadow rapporteur of the Parliament’s texts on circular economy, and I have given hundreds of speeches about eco-design, waste reduction and policies supporting growth in circular economic practices.

I am committed to the idea of a Europe with a human face, a Europe that guarantees the respect of human rights, rule of law, democracy, equal opportunities, social inclusion and access to high quality services. To achieve this, Europe needs economic stability and growth.

Prosperous Europe needs enhanced surveillance of the financial sector as well as transparency. Investments in education and research are needed to foster innovations that allow us to benefit from digitalization and to move towards a circular economy. Only by becoming continuously wiser and more flexible can we stay at the top of international competition. Only a prosperous Europe can build well-being and protect environment, and the other way around – only a society that takes care of its citizens and of the environment can be prosperous. Human, economic and environmental well-being are an inseparable entity.

I believe these new business models and paradigm changes are essential in the creation of an environmentally friendly Europe, in which production and consumption are designed in a way that allows our continent to be viable for the generations to come. Europe should lead the way and keep the environment high on its agenda including in its external policies to reach ambitious international agreements. In the near future, decisions makers are responsible for keeping our globe viable.

However, the EU cannot give responses on its own to issues concerning prosperity, fair economic competition, the environment or security. The common mission of the Union shall thus be the reinforcement and the reform of multilateral negotiation procedures on the international level. The EU can be a great hub of global influence when it stresses better policy making through international organizations. This is my idea of a ”Global Europe”.

You can check my parliamentary activities here.

My assistants at the Parliament are Maari, Laura, Essi and Iida. Do not hesitate to contact us (contact details below) if you have questions, meeting requests or any other demands. Comments on my parliamentary work are also more than welcome. I am looking forward to your contact!

Sirpa Pietikäinen’s CV

Photos for press use (Flickr)

Contacts

Iida Ahonen

FEMM committee, fundamental rights, health, meetings in Brussels

Essi Ervasti

ECON committee, sustainable finance and taxonomy, internal market, international trade, education, culture

Kristian Peitsara

ENVI committee, circular economy, education, culture, meetings in Brussels

Pirjo Mäljä

Meetings and activities in Finland

Petteri Mäkitalo

Trainee.

Postal Addresses

In Brussels

European Parliament
Parlement Européen
ASP 9 E 153
Rue Wiertz 60
B-1047 Bruxelles
Belgium
tel. +32-2-284 5264
fax. +32-2284 9264

In Strasbourg

European Parliament
Parlament Européen
LOW-08.053
Allée du Printemps
F-67070 Strasbourg
France
tel. +33-3-881 75264
fax. +33-3-881 79264

Kuukauden puheenaihe
November 2022

Environmental Criminal Law

The European Parliament is currently preparing its position on the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on Environmental Criminal Law. The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) acts as the responsible drafter of the proposal. I myself have been the rapporteur of the environment committee ENVI’s opinion on the directive. The environment committee will vote on its opinion on October 25, after which the committee’s opinion will be transferred to the legal affairs committee for consideration.

The environmental committee should play a stronger role in environmental legislation

In my opinion, the division of competences in environmental criminal legislation should be reconsidered. At the moment, the legal affairs committee can reject all the environment committee’s proposed amendments if they decide to do so. In the environmental criminal legislation, it would be of primary importance that the environmental committee be primarily responsible for the content, the definitions of the state of the environment and the activities that are considered criminal.

Our economy, living conditions and well-being are directly dependent on our environment. Environmental crimes target nature, climate, biodiversity and animals, but they also cause direct and indirect threats to human rights, health and livelihoods. Environmental crime is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world. Despite that, environmental crimes have not been taken seriously enough. This has to change.

The harmonization of the definitions of environmental crimes and the sanctions of crimes is important, because most often significant environmental crimes and their sanctions do not respect borders between countries. Harmonization also prevents organizations from moving to countries where environmental crimes go uninvestigated and unpunished more easily. Commission’s proposal is a step in the right direction, but remains too weak. Sanctions should be tightened to more clearly also apply to crimes against biodiversity. Biodiversity is not just a trendy word, but it provides us with functioning ecosystems, clean air, water and food. In particular, the sanctions for crimes related to ecocide should be tightened.

Environmental crimes at least on the same level as economic crimes

In the negotiations, I have emphasized the cross-border cooperation needed to solve environmental crimes and the strengthening of the bodies and processes that support them. An entity independent of the member states should have the right to investigate and prosecute cross-border environmental crimes and crimes, if the member state does not take sufficient measures to resolve them.

I emphasize that the directive should be extended to also cover crimes committed in third countries. In this way, European companies could be punished for environmental crimes in third countries, even if they comply with the third country’s environmental laws. Large multinational companies often benefit of the laxer environmental criminal laws of third countries and thus cause destruction to local environments and communities.

Finally, environmental crimes should be raised to at least the same, if not higher, level than financial crimes. This would also mean that natural persons, such as CEOs, could also be held liable for environmental crimes caused by their organizations. The CEO has an obligation to be aware of his organization’s operations and the effects it causes on the environment and society. The statement ”Well, I didn’t know” should not be part of the CEO’s vocabulary.

Up until now, enough resources and expertise have not been allocated to solve environmental crimes. We urgently need specialized people such as police officers, judges and prosecutors to deal with environmental crimes. Without people specialized in the field and supporting bodies such as courts, environmental crimes are easily ignored, uninvestigated and unpunished. The EU should take a stronger role in environmental crimes and support its member countries in the investigation of these crimes. I wish to have the support of my colleagues in the environment committee in the vote of this ambitious opinion. We cannot allow environmental criminals to profit of favorable operating environments any longer.

Other activities in the environmental committee

In addition to the Environmental Criminal Law, I will start negotiations on the Commission’s proposal for a directive on corporate sustainability due diligence and directive on construction products regulation, which are currently starting.

At the beginning of the year, the Commission presented a proposal for a directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. Due diligence means that the company must assess and prevent possible adverse effects of its operations, as well as correct or mitigate realized harms. I work as the shadow rapporteur of my EPP group in the opinion on the directive. In practice, the directive wants to address problems related to the environment or human rights in the operations of companies and their value chains. Several EU countries already have national rules for companies and some European companies already comply with due diligence measures. However, self-determination is not enough, and a more unified and effective regulation that intervenes in harmful activities is needed.

In the negotiations for the revision of the construction product regulation, I intend to emphasize alternative low-carbon construction materials, more efficient circulation of construction products and materials, especially the reuse of demolition waste, and the introduction of a digital product passport. Information on the environmental effects of construction products and materials, including biodiversity effects, should be easily accessible and transferable.