The major environmental challenges of the Greek EU Presidency
Delegation meeting of the international environmental NGO WWF with the Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Yannis Maniatis.The important environmental challenges of the upcoming Greek EU Presidency, as well as the need for the EU to maintain and strengthen its role as a global environmental leader were the topics highlighted by Tony Long (WWF EPO) and Demetres Karavellas (WWF Greece) at their meeting with the Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
The two WWF delegates stressed that the Greek Presidency constitutes an opportunity both for Greece and its European counterparts to reconsider the recessionary policy of austerity and the conventional economic model that appears bankrupt in environmental, economic and societal terms.
“The Greek Presidency must set the foundation of and the framework for a visionary, strategic plan for a new course that will redirect the EU towards a living, sustainable economy”, says Tony Long, Head of WWF’s European Policy Office. Demetres Karavellas, WWF Greece CEO, complements: “Policies for clean energy and for sustainable maritime spatial planning entail big challenges that must be taken on by Greece, in a decisive and coherent fashion”.
Top priorities that the Greek Presidency is called upon taking action are:
1. Energy and climate: During the Greek Presidency, the European Council must promote a binding and ambitious policy framework for energy and climate up to 2030. WWF calls upon European Council to adopt a binding target for energy efficiency until 2030, in parallel with the implementation of binding targets related to the penetration of renewables (RES) and the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. The Greek Presidency has a particular opportunity to promote energy efficiency as a vehicle for the exit of the strategy.
2. Greening the European Semester: Building on the previous Council proceedings, the Greek Presidency has the opportunity to include energy and resource efficiency targets and targets related to environmentally harmful subsidies in the National Reform Programmes and the Country Specific recommendations.
3. Maritime policy and spatial planning: WWF stressed the need for the Greek Presidency to contribute so that the European negotiations on the maritime spatial planning will ensure the sustainable use of the marine resources and the protection and management of marine protected areas and in particular the marine Natura 2000 sites. In addition, the Greek Presidency constitutes an opportunity for the promotion of a Sustainable Blue Growth agenda.
“The Greek Presidency will be evaluated in the seas and on the shores. The Maritime Spatial Planning Directive is part of the agenda and consists of a brilliant opportunity to deliver results, under the condition that the Greek Presidency promotes the necessary interventions that will promote a framework for ecologically sustainable and socially equitable planning. However, it could also stigmatize the country, if marine riches and coastal zones are to be treated separately and exclusively as natural resources to be depleted and land to be built” says Demetres Karavellas emphatically.
WWF committed to monitor closely the course of the Greek Presidency, believing that the Greek Presidency can act as a lever for the green agenda that can safeguard Europe’s natural capital and spark innovative and extrovert development and new jobs.
Moreover, WWF raised the issue of the unexplained delay in the ratification of the “International Agreement for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Prespa Park Region” by the Greek Parliament, an agreement already signed by Greece, Albania, FYROM and the European Commission on February 2nd 2010.
It is to be noted that WWF had requested for a meeting with the Minister of the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food, Mr. Athanassio Tsaftari, however this did not take place.
WWF Priority demands to Greek Presidency (Jan - June 2014)
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