Athens, 10 July 2014: MEDASSET calls on the European Commission, the Barcelona Convention and the Bern Convention to ensure that Greek coasts remain legally protected against unsustainable development.
In a letter sent 9 July 2014 , the Mediterranean environmental NGO, which for 26 years works to protect coastal habitats and sea turtles, expressed its extreme concern about a new law that, if enacted, will critically undermine coastal protection and sustainable development in Greece.
The Greek Ministry of Finance proposed a draft law titled “Delineation, management and protection of the seashore and beach”, through a one-month online public consultation launched in April 2014. MEDASSET participated in the consultation and expressed its objection to the law, together with numerous Greek environmental NGOs, the Greek Ombudsman, architects, lawyers, archaeologists, scientists, and over 150,000 citizens who signed an online petition asking for the withdrawal of the draft law. Despite the widespread reaction, articles in the press in June 2014 report that the Ministry of Finance is planning to fast-track the voting of the law at the Greek Parliament sometime during the summer recess session.
In summary the proposed law:
- Creates a precarious coastal zoning and use permitting system.
- Allows exploitation of the entire beach areas by businesses.
- Legalises existing illegal constructions and allows more construction on the coasts, together with dredging and filling of coastal and marine areas, without substantial assessment of impacts on the natural environment.
- Makes no provision for existing coastal protected areas.
- Ignores European and international law and policies for coastal protection and climate change adaptation.
In its letter, MEDASSET calls upon the European Commission, the Barcelona Convention  and the Bern Convention , within their responsibility to ensure implementation of existing laws and agreements regarding the protection of Mediterranean coastal zones, to assist and remind the Greek Government to regulate the use of coasts in a responsible and sustainable manner. MEDASSET also highlights that the European Commission has the responsibility to ensure that Greece’s Economic Adjustment Programme , which is linked to the proposed law, is not used as a justification to weaken environmental legislation in order to allow for unconditional development.
The NGO concludes that the passing of this law will not only be a step backwards in efforts to protect the Mediterranean’s unique biodiversity and tackle the existing coastal squeeze in the region, but will undermine Greece’s economic recovery in the long-term, by destroying the prime competitive asset of the Greek tourism sector: bio-diverse, clean and unspoilt seas and coasts.
 MEDASSET’s letter is available here.
 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.
 Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
 Greece is a member country of the European Union and signatory of the Barcelona and Bern Convention.
 The Economic Adjustment Programme prescribes land use laws and spatial planning as a prerequisite for financial assistance.