The European Union is mulling a tax on member states that do not meet their plastic packaging recycling targets, Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told Kathimerini in an interview on Sunday, also urging Greece to intensify efforts on waste management and the protection of Natura 2000 habitats.
In its attempt to fight plastic waste and promote a circular economy, Sinkevicius said, the EU is pushing industries to redesign their production methods and encouraging states to improve waste collection, sorting and recycling.
“Every country sets its own targets. When these are not met, then there should be additional taxation,” he said, adding that the measure would not be a levy or a tax in the conventional sense.
Asked about the impact of wind farm development in Natura areas and on small islands, a debate that has gained intensity in Greece, the 31-year-old Lithuanian said that it was important to avoid past mistakes involving other energy sources.
“Our aim to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 is very important, but it cannot take place at the expense of biodiversity. We need to ensure that wind farms are developed in a sustainable way,” he said.
In November 2020, the Commission issued guidelines for reconciling wind energy development and nature.
“Greece must also be very cautious and lay out a strategic plan for the development of renewable energy sources,” Sinkevicius said.
While recognizing progress made in recent years, the Commissioner said Greece still had a lot of catching up work to do with EU waste rules, a lag manifested by repeated fines by the European Court of Justice.
Similar problems plague Greece’s protection of Natura sites, he said, urging the authorities to improve monitoring of environmentally sensitive areas.
“In all these issues, [Greece] is supported by the EU with resources and know-how,” he said.