New permit system introduces self-compliance, private checks

A new licensing system for corporations presented on Wednesday by the government will rely on the self-compliance of enterprises while monitoring checks will take place after the licenses have been granted and the businesses have started operating. These checks will be conducted by certified private inspectors rather than state inspection mechanisms, in an effort to simplify the process.

Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis presented the general principles of the new legislative framework to be tabled for voting at the end of 2013 so that the first permit can be issued under the new system within the first half of 2014.

The minister conceded that the plan will likely have a number of difficulties to overcome as several constitutional obstacles could arise, particularly concerning environmental legislation. The new framework will also require specialized inspectors, depending on the kind of industrial activity, and perfectly consistent cooperation with other ministries involved, which is not always the case today in Greece. However, he did add that Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis is of the same mind and is inclined to radical changes too.

The principles introduced by the plan for the licensing of industries have been drafted in cooperation with the World Bank and follow practices that apply in other European Union countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany.

By self-compliance, the ministry means companies will directly declare and prove their compliance with the general conditions required by law in various fields. They will then be inspected not during the stage of the issuing of their license but after they have already started operating. Certified professionals from the private sector, such as engineers, accountants etc, will conduct the inspections instead of state monitoring mechanisms, which means that the state will not have to check the companies but only the inspectors themselves. The Development Ministry has already started discussing the issue with the Technical Chamber of Greece.

The plan further provides for the creation of a central electronic system to administer the licensing and monitoring procedures. The submission of data from each investment will be conducted electronically with the possibility for remote access in real time. That way, the licensing process for several activities could be concluded within one day.

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