Urgent Call to Green MEPs for the Environmental Bill in Greece

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Urgent Call to Green MEPs for the Environmental Bill in Greece

Athens, 03.05.2020

Dear Green friend,

we turn to you in order to draw your attention on a matter of great urgency for Greece, requiring your support and swift action. During the last decade of economic crisis, environmental legislation has been weakened, painfully and repeatedly: Our country cannot afford to have its environmental protections disintegrated any further.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what the current conservative government is planning at the moment. Although the parliament has only partially been re-opened, the first bill to be tabled for debate and adoption is titled “modernization of environmental regulation”. The bill includes dozens of highly controversial provisions, lowering environmental protection standards in order to attract non-sustainable investments while at the same time extending favours to a massive clientele of conservative party supporters at the expense of critical ecosystems.

The most highly controversial provisions of the bill include the opening up of large strands of protected NATURA 2000 areas for oil & gas extraction, as well as the horizontal granting of a 30-year demolition immunity for any illegal structures built within forests and/or riverbeds. Several other provisions seem to be in direct contradiction with either European legislation, the constitution of Greece, or both.

Public consultation has hardly taken place, since almost 50% of all provisions have never been presented with the official consultation draft. What is more, the consultation period lasted for merely two weeks, a highly insufficient deadline amidst the CoViD19 pandemic breakout as well as the safety restrictions that came along. Repeated calls from environmental NGOs calling for the extension of the consultation period were simply rejected.

In spite of expressed warnings and strong objections concerning dozens of provisions, the government did not only ignore them but also planned to take civil society by surprise: The bill was tabled to be debated first, right after the partial re-opening of the Parliament, while the debate is scheduled to start in the mini-plenary’s session this Monday on May 4th and conclude on May 5th: merely a day after the partial lifting of quarantine measures and while everyone’s mind is still on the pandemic and the subsequent measures in Greece.

In spite of the very limited time available and the special situation, campaigns to have the bill stopped and substantially revised are already gaining steam. A petition by WWF Greece & Greenpeace Greece as well as by a coalition of 130 citizen’s initiatives have gathered tens of thousands e-signatures, while Fridays For Future is also publicly calling upon the Prime Minister of Greece to have the bill withdrawn.

Our party is therefore urgently asking for your help as fellow Greens.

The current conservative Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has put meticulous effort in somehow presenting himself as “green” on a European level: The time has come to exercise public pressure on the Prime Minister in order for him to prove whether he is just using it as greenwashing or not.

We would like to ask you to let him know you are interested about sustainability in Greece, asking him to seriously take into account the urgent concerns of the civil society of Greece, to halt his “environmental bill” and have it substantially revised in order for it to truly conform with sustainability principles, strengthening environmental legislation in Greece rather than the opposite. You can reach him at primeminister@primeminister.gr. We would also like to ask you to share your concerns with the Minister of Environment and sponsor of the bill Kostis Hadjidakis, who you can reach at secmin@ypen.gr.

The bill is to be adopted in the plenary by Tuesday afternoon, on May 5th. Therefore, we would like to thank you for communicating your concerns by Tuesday morning at the latest, as it is an essential requirement for them to be effective.

With the Warmest Green Greetings,

The co-Spokepersons of PRASINOI/GREENS
Evangelos Astyrakakis-Aslanis, Former FYEG Executive Committee Member
Alia Papageorgiou, Vice President of The Association of European Journalists

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