NEWS

Greece facing EU court action

Greece is likely to face the European Court of Justice over several infringements related to failure to implement EU guidelines on environmental policy, sources said yesterday. The threat of a series of legal steps taking place against Greece arose after a recent meeting between the Environment Ministry, the Foreign Ministry’s legal service and European Union officials visiting Athens. The meeting focused on 40 different outstanding issues relating to the environment, a source said. Waste management, landfills and heavily polluted rivers were at the top of the list of promises made to the European Union that Greece has broken. Especially in the case of landfills, the country is expected to be hit with a fine that will be reduced gradually depending on progress made on the matter, the source added. Earlier this month, a European Commission official warned that Athens needs to sort out its waste management problem quickly or risk finding itself in the same position as Naples, which has run out of places to dump its trash. The EU took action against Naples earlier this year when hundreds of thousands of tons of rubbish piled up around the Campania region as authorities ran out of places to dump the trash. Environment Ministry officials presented to EU officials the government’s plan and a series of studies aimed at solving the trash problem. However, it is believed that the ministry representatives did not manage to convince the EU officials that the country will be able to close all landfills by the end of the year due to ongoing reactions by local municipalities. Greece is supposed to solve its trash problem by the end of 2008 but the country is dramatically behind schedule. A total of 1,453 landfills are being operated by municipalities while there are more than 10,000 illegal dumps. Other issues addressed in the meeting were in reference to any steps being made on the heavily polluted Asopos River.