BRUSSELS: The European Commission on Thursday announced that it is referring Greece to the European Court of Justice due to lake pollution case.
According to the Commission, Greece failed to protect Lake Koroneia, an internationally important wetland in the region of Thessaloniki. The lake has been severely affected by pollution and illegal water extraction, with serious impacts on local fauna and flora.
The Greek government has implemented a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the lake, in part financed by European Union funds, but progress has been slow. Therefore, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik recommended the Commission to refer the case to Court.
Greece is currently failing to meet its obligations regarding the lake under several key directives such as the Habitats and Birds Directives, the Urban Waste Water Treatment directive, and discharges into water of dangerous substances.
After the Commission determined that the lake suffered from pollution and degradation, Greece put in place a specific legal framework to address illegal activities on the site in 2004.
The plan included improving the physical characteristics of the lake (water level and depth), irrigation networks and the construction of sewerage and waste water treatment systems for the neighboring agglomerations.
However, the Commission learned that many of the measures have still not been put into practice. In addition, some of the conditions for the financing set by the EU have not been met.
Lake Koroneia is part of the Natura 2000 network, Europe's network of protected natural areas. The lake has suffered from extensive illegal water abstraction for irrigation, which has drastically reduced the water level.
Fishing and bathing in the lake are no longer possible, and the lake is also seriously polluted by the excessive discharge from industries and towns in the surrounding area.
The lake hosts many threatened, endemic and rare habitats, species and breeding, wintering or staging birds and is a Natura 2000 site protected under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.
(BNO NEWS )