Greece, the land of unrepentant lawbreakers

It is not laws that are lacking. In Greece, there are plenty of laws. The problem is, they are not enforced. Private and vested interests traditionally take precedence over collective interests, and most written legislation is just empty words. Greeks generally build illegally, or commit other such illegalities, and justify their actions by saying everyone else does the same. The authorities show little regard for the rulings of the High Court or the State Council, thus indirectly undermining the role of Greek citizens. As an EU member state, Greece often makes laws because it is obliged to. However, the country does not actually apply these laws or comply with them. As far as political power is concerned, non-institutional factors serve their interests, and their actions are denigrated by public opinion. Fotis Kouvelis, a Synaspismos Left Coalition MP and former president of the Athens Lawyers’ Association, said the legislation is usually not implemented because the government often ignores the existence of the laws or chooses – albeit illegally – not to apply them or to apply them where they ought not to be applied. Characteristic examples of this abound in legislation concerning urban planning, the environment, consumer rights and workers’ health and safety conditions. «It should be pointed out that where there are too many laws this results in a situation where legislation is not enforced, and fragmentary legislation whose legal force becomes diffused is unclear and difficult to trace,» Kouvelis said. «It is now urgent for legislation to be clarified and coded to reverse the prevailing ‘ignorance’ even in the case of the experts.»