In a statement released on 24 March, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action states that the agreement was formalised in February, with the objective of coordinating the action of the two entities in matters of environmental crime.

The protocal emphasises that the PJ already integrates, together with the Attorney General’s Office, the working group that IGAMAOT and the Portuguese Environment Agency created for the definition of technical and scientific evaluation criteria that allow providing measurable content to concepts such as “substantial damage” or “significant or lasting injury”.

In the same note, the Ministry stresses that the greatest obstacle to criminalisation “of some of the most seriously damaging behaviours to the environment and natural resources has been precisely in the enormous difficulty of the authorities in translating indeterminate concepts into practice on which the law makes the crime of pollution depend”.

“This has resulted in the courts not applying criminal penalties, even in the most seriously damaging situations in the environment, thus always treated as mere administrative offenses”, highlights the Ministry.