BMBF-Research Project "ECOCRIME"


Project: "Environmental regulation through Criminalization: An economic analysis of German Environmental Criminal Law and proposals for reform"


Subject of the Project

ECOCRIME analyses the contribution of the German Penal Code to successful environmental regulation. The analysis covers economic as well as jurisprudential issues. A major concern of the project is to develop contributions to the recent debate about a potential reform or an abolishment of Environmental Criminal Law. These contributions are based on theoretical as well as empirical research.

Two central questions under consideration are:

  1.  What is the actual contribution of the German Environmental Criminal Law towards sustainability?
  2. What contribution would be possible and desirable?

In doing so, the project investigates two central aspects of the German Environmental Criminal Law:

  1. The legal norms stated in §§ 324-330d StGB (German Criminal Code) (existence and design)
  2. Implementation of the norms via a monitoring and enforcement regime. The focus is on the methods of gathering information and on sanctioning strategies. In short, the object of the research project is the actual regulation of environmental offences.


Scientifical an applicational objectives

The project pursues several scientifical and applicational objectives:

  1. Application, validation, and further development of the modern theory of regulation
  2. Design of application-oriented perspectives and of approaches to improve regulatory behavior
  3. Development of reform proposals concerning the legal norm and elaboration of a working paper containing contributions to the legal debate on a reform or abolishment of German Environmental Criminal Law
  4. Solving the "identification problem" that underlies the deterrence impact of Environmental Criminal Law
  5. Further linkage of jurisprudential and economic research
  6. Building up an integrated database

It is well understood that merely stating the aim of environmental protection in a legal norm does not guarantee a sufficient implementation in the enforcement process. Reform proposal therefore have to contain mechanisms that ensure that the players acting within the monitoring and enforcement process, e.g. the regulatory agencies and the judiciary representatives, behave in a matter that contributes to the goals of sustainability.

The project will formulate

  1. Recommendations that help translate conceptual targets into a meaningful enforcement policy that induces sustainable behavior of all players involved.
  2. Recommendations for enhancing the process of dynamic, innovative and efficient learning within the regulatory system.



ECOCRIME utilizes several methods to pursue its aims:

  • Empirical and theoretical analysis of German Environmental Criminal Law and the empirical record of law enforcement from an economic point of view
  • Linkage of theoretical and empirical approaches of applied microeconomics and questions of legal and regulatory instruments

The techniques employed over the course of the project are:

  • quantitative microeconomic and econometric analysis
  • qualitative methods used in empirical social sciences
  • models based on rational economic agents
  • models based on alternative behavioristic approaches

Data sources:

  • Police Crime Statistics (PKS) (published by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA))
  • Prosecution Statistics (StVSt, StA-Statistik) (published by the Research Data Centre (FDZ) / Federal Statistics Office (Destatis))
  • Further data from the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis)



Principal Investigator:

Prof. Timo Goeschl, Ph.D.

Competence Centre for "Empirical Evaluation":

Christian Almer

Competence Centre for "Theoretical Analysis":

Johannes Jarke

Ole Jürgens

Competence Centre for "Jurisprudential Advisory and Criminology":

Jan Dehne-Niemann


Chair of Environmental Economics
Alfred-Weber-Institiut for Economics
Bergheimerstraße 20
69115 Heidelberg
Phone: 06221/54-8011
Fax: 06221/54-8020


Editor: Wiebke Tubbesing
Latest Revision: 2011-01-10
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