Pending the implementation of the privatizations’ programme, the priority of the new Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Mr. Giorgos Papaconstantinou, is undoubtedly the liberalization of the energy market. The new energy bill, which incorporates into the Greek legal order the 3rd energy package, provides for the breakdown of the Public Power Coorporation S.A, and the establishment of vertically integrated companies, which will be offered for sale by attracting the interest of foreign investors, and thus restrict the monopoly and enhance competition. The new energy bill is expected to be submitted soon to the Parliament for voting, after the review of the comments which have been recently presented in the public consultation.

Furthermore, in order to achieve the goal of green development, the liberalization of the energy market should move towards the elimination of energy production from fossil fuels by exploiting renewable energy sources (RES). In that respect investments in the RES sector will be increased, while achieving the reduction of the greenhouse gases emissions’ targets in the EU. Within the framework of the development of RES, a new bill about the simplification and acceleration of the environmental permitting process for energy projects and investments in the industry sector, is being drafted and will be publicly presented in July. In respect to the aforementioned bill, it is essential to implement solutions which guarantee the accuracy of the environmental licensing procedure, by reducing the obstacles and the time frame that is needed in order to obtain an environmental permit, without making reductions in environmental protection. The problem in this case does not lie in the complexity of the legislation, but in the implementation and enforcement of the regulations. In that regard, emphasis should be given for example, to the enforcement of the rules which stipulate that any pending environmental impact assessment opinion that has passed the review time limit, will be regarded as positive, and not to the abolition of the preliminary environmental impact assessments for specific projects.

Another key issue for both the protection of the environment and the development is the spatial planning which will take place with the completion of the national land register and the forest maps, and which will lead to the clarification of the land use status and therefore enhance legal certainty for individuals and investors. As regards the regularisation of the arbitrary housing construction, these houses should be firstly indentified and classified according to their illegalities and the land on which they are built. A general legalisation of these arbitrary constructions will by no means be compatible with the jurisprudence of the Council of State and the European Landscape Convention.

Edited by Tina Koutsopoulou