Discussing the preventive measures planned for this year’s fire season, Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Christos Stylianides claimed in Parliament on Wednesday that while the state will be at a higher level organizationally and operationally, the effort to upgrade Greece’s prevention and response system to natural disasters is bedeviled by a “bureaucratic monster.”
“We start doing something and we constantly find walls in front of us,” he said during a joint briefing with Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Vangelis Tournas of a special parliamentary committee on the policies and actions for dealing with natural disasters.
Stylianides presented the main actions of the Aegis program, which will be financed to the tune of 1.7 billion euros by the European Union Recovery and Resilience Facility and the European Investment Bank. He insisted that there is “a real opportunity for the country to strengthen civil protection” while bemoaning the obstacles.
“We made an effort, we won the approval of the European Commission and we are stuck here,” he said, citing several examples, such as the procedures for approving contracts.
“We will not go for direct assignments, but the procedures must be speeded up. Institutions that were supposed to function in order to speed up the procedures ended up functioning as quasi-judicial bodies, causing delays,” Stylianides noted.
He also raised the issue of delays in finding the locations where the 13 Regional Operational Centers of Civil Protection will be set up.
“While the sites have been found, problems are arising due to a lack of a land registry,” he said, while also pointing to the delays in the supply of new radars for the National Meteorological Service.
Nonetheless, Stylianides argued that the state mechanism will be ready at the beginning of the firefighting period, stressing the initiatives taken to foster cooperation between the forest services and the fire brigade. “Maybe, for the first time in decades, there will be coordination and common ground,” he added.