NEWS

EU drags Greece to court over dirty lake

Greece looks set to be denied millions of euros in European Union funding after Brussels decided to take legal action over the country?s failure to stop the pollution of Lake Koroneia, a protected wetland near Thessaloniki.

In a statement on Thursday, the European Commission said it was referring Greece to the European Court of Justice for being too slow putting a rescue plan for the lake into action.

Koroneia is part of Natura 2000, Europe?s network of protected natural areas, but it has suffered from pollution problems over the last decade. After checks in 2002, Greece agreed on a scheme to save the lake. Two years later, the plan?s details – which included improving the water level and constructing sewage and wastewater treatment systems – were announced and the EU agreed to co-fund the project. ?But the Commission has learned that many of the measures have still not been put into practice and that most of the conditions set for the financing have not been implemented,? Brussels said in its statement.

Officials said that wastewater is still being dumped into the lake, whose waters continue to be siphoned off illegally.

Greece received a warning last May but the Commission has deemed that local authorities did not respond accordingly. ?Scant progress has now led the Commission to summon Greece before the Court,? Brussels said. ?In addition, the Commission will now review the EU co-financing decision and decide whether the EU co-financing will continue.?

A Commission spokesperson said Greece stands to lose 20 million euros of funding.

Last June, a public administration inspectors? report indicated that then Thessaloniki Prefect and now Macedonia Governor Panayiotis Psomiadis failed to impose fines on businesses found guilty of polluting the lake.