An annual report by the local branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) criticizes Greece for systematically violating the European Union’s environmental rulebook, claiming that this is taking a hefty toll on the debt-wracked country’s finances and sustainable future.
According to the report, Greece ranks second among its EU peers for noncompliance with EU court decisions. Greece also has the second-worst record when it comes to pending cases due to violations of the bloc’s environmental legislation, the report says.
Meanwhile, WWF added, Greece has paid more than 37.3 million euros in fines for failing to comply with rulings by the European Court of Justice over dozens of illegal landfills. At the same time, the Greek state is said to be doing a poor job at collecting fines imposed for breaches of environmental regulations. Of the 183.440 million euros in fines imposed for illegal construction in 2015, authorities reportedly collected just 3.17 million, or 1.7 percent.
“We are witnessing a constant effort, by more than one government, to bypass environmental law in order to serve specific business interests and to legitimize illegalities,” Dimitris Karavelas, head of WWF Greece, said on Monday. “Regrettably, because of this deficit in compliance with environmental law, Greece is constantly wasting opportunities for genuinely sustainable growth, but also money,” he said.
“The message the state is sending,” WWF policy chief Theodota Nantsou said, is if “you break the law, we will take care of it.”
WWF Greece started issuing the annual report in 2005.