Is the EC promoting rule of injustice in Greece?
In a letter addressed to Horst Reichenbach, Head of the EC’s Task Force for Greece (TFGR), WWF Greece criticises the recommendation of the TFGR to the Greek government for legalisation of illegal land tenures and buildings, regardless of their environmental, economic or social impacts.
The conservation organisation’s letter is based on a February TFGR Mission draft report, where the TFGR states that the government should consider “formalising illegal buildings and properties” and proposes a “strategy to deal with illegal (sic) kept land”, even if this requires a ‘constitution-level’ decision, obviously referring to the strict protection granted by the Greek Constitution to forests and forested lands.
WWF Greece considers this unconditional legalization as unprecedented and objects on the following grounds:
• It violates the EU Treaty, which is founded on the common for all member states principle of the rule of law and guarantees equality before the law, the right to a good administration and a “high level of environmental protection and the improvement of the quality of the environment”,
• It is environmentally detrimental, since it does not assess the environmental impact of the illegal constructions and land uses, especially within protected areas,
• It discriminates against the majority of citizens, who respect the laws and have endured the administrative and economic cost of the legal procedures for land use and building,
• It is economically irrational, since the state gives up its right to claim much the higher financial penalties provided for by the Forest and Urban Planning Codes,
• It is economically unsustainable, since it burdens the state with the extra cost of serving new settlements and housing agglomerations, which were never planned.
WWF Greece calls on the Commission’s Task Force to respect the EU’s founding principles and to assist Greece in restoring a just state and promoting sustainable solutions to illegal land development.
«We perceive the current crisis as a unique opportunity for setting development in Greece and the EU on a sustainable path. The European Commission must show visionary leadership and provide the best available technical assistance to troubled member states, in order to put in place the necessary environmentally and socially sustainable economic reforms», states Demetres Karavellas, Director of WWF Greece. «These proposals of the Task Force are not helpful and perpetuate, rather than resolve the problem of illegal land use».
has also been copied to the European Commission’s President Jose Manuel Barroso. It is available in pdf format here.
For more information, please contact:
Iasonas Kantas, Press Officer, WWF Greece
Tel: +30 210 33 14 893
Mobile: +30 697 185 9632