According to a draft report from the European Commission’s Task Force for Greece (TFGR), Greece is strongly advised to proceed with sweeping legalisation of illegal buildings and land uses, regardless of how these were created and their environmental impact.
The document, which summarises the views expressed by the TFGR in a technical meeting with the services of the Cadastre, was described in media reports as support to the Government’s policy for an endless legalisation process for unauthorised land developments at the low cost of a one-off financial penalty.
In a letter addressed to the TFGR’s Head Horst Reichenbach by WWF Greece’s Director Demetres Karavellas, the conservation organisation calls on the Commission’s Task Force to respect the EU’s founding principles and to assist Greece in restoring a just state and promoting sustainable solutions to illegal land development.
In the letter, WWF Greece states that the unconditional legalisation of prohibited land uses
- violates the EU’s founding principles of rule of law and a high level of environmental protection, which apply equally to all member states,
- is environmentally detrimental, especially for protected areas,
- is economically irrational, since the State gives up on its right to claim much the higher financial penalties provided for by the Forest and Urban Planning Codes and is burdened with the extra cost of serving new and unplanned housing agglomerations.
The TFGR was established in 2011 as an ad hoc team of experts “supporting the Greek administration in identifying and providing technical assistance for the country's reform process”. Its head reports to EC President Manuel Jose Barroso.