The Greek Presidency of the EU Council must show determination regarding four top environmental priorities, according to the HOS and BirdLife International. In their joint letter to the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Yiannis Maniatis, both groups underline that, amidst tumultuous conversations about the future of European environmental politics, Greece is granted with a unique opportunity to redraw the environmental map before the end of its presidency on the European Committee and the European Council.
The first priority is the promotion of the EU “Energy-Climate” duo for 2030. The Greek Presidency must contribute to the prevention of disasters caused by climate change, fostering binding goals. The EU policy must remain innovative and sharp through significant reductions of energy consumption, and proper siting of Renewable Energy Sources projects, based on environmental criteria and social benefits.
Maritime Policy is one of the most critical priorities of the Greek Presidency. The NGOs call upon the Minister to ensure the integration of the Marine Natura 2000 network in Europe, emphasizing the 2-year delay as far as Greece is concerned.
Another priority is to speed up the adaptation of the European Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (IAS). The species in question pose a serious threat to biodiversity, while causing financial damages estimated at €12 billion per year to a financial crisis-stricken EU. The Greek Presidency is called upon to play a key role in the prevention and suppression of the problem.
Last but not least, the Committee is expected to take important initiatives as an answer to the extremely weak implementation of the European environmental legislation by the member states. Greece alone has been found guilty of environmental law violations more than 40 times since 1992. Therefore, the Greek Presidency is requested to support the implementation of the Polluter Pays principle, ensuring that the fines will no longer be borne by law abiding taxpayers but by the polluters themselves.
As Mr. George Sgouros, Director of the HOS, points out: “The Greek Presidency starts with critical environmental issues in its agenda, which must address with strong political will. In 2014, issues heavily impacting the Greek financial distress can be resolved through long-term sustainable development, damage prevention in agriculture and forestry, and provision for fines on environmental infringements. We should make the best out of this opportunity”.
You can read the joint statement of the HOS and BirdLife here
You can read the letter to the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change here