Lawmakers are debating an article on public procurement that has become a point of contention, with the government arguing that the regulation will allow the promotion of moderate development projects in protected areas, while the opposition and environmental organizations demand its withdrawal, arguing that it is contrary to European rules for the protection of the Natura 2000 ecological network.
The article allows for the creation of sub-areas for moderate projects within Natura sites. The government has not clarified what projects can be legally covered by this regulation. However, one of the major projects that could possibly be characterized as moderate within a protected area is the renovation of the former royal estate of Tatoi, for which the relevant studies are progressing and have been included in the NSRF 2014-2020 with a budget of 1, 4 million euros. The goal is for the studies to mature by August 2022, paving the way for investments to reach up to 130 million euros. In fact, the government will aim to include this project is in the Recovery Fund.
The bill notes that to date, the implementation of the institutional framework on protected areas has shown significant differences on the interpretation of the same provisions of the legislation.
Interpretation, "which makes it difficult to form a clear and unequivocal view of what is to be done in the context of the study in the case of specific proposals of public interest for development within areas or protected areas (such as eco-tourism, cultural projects, upgrading facilities) of a cultural character ".
Thus, the government argues that for the protection of areas it is necessary to regulate the process of planning and control in the name of public interest within a transitional stage until the completion of the elaboration and approval of Special Environmental Studies.
After the mobilization of 30 environmental organizations, within 5 days 29,630 citizens signed a petition against the bill. The environmental organizations claim that this article is contrary to national and EU legislation for the protection of the areas of the European ecological network Natura 2000 and recall the recent condemnation for our country of the EU Court of Justice for non-compliance with the Habitats Directive.
In fact, after recommendations from 23 organizations to the Nature 2000 Commission, which is the state scientific advisory body for biodiversity, there was an announcement requesting the withdrawal of article 219 of the bill.
Speaking to Business Daily, Ioli Christopoulou, Policy Director of Green Tank and member of the Nature 2000 Committee, notes that this article gives the opportunity to define protected areas based on the investment initiative:
“In other words, in the design of what is allowed and what is forbidden in protected areas, instead of the priority being the conservation of nature, here the project includes the preservation of investments in a way that is not defined. What are moderate development projects? There is no such definition anywhere. Nor is it described who will define what a moderate development project is, as there is no definition of public interest anywhere. We do not know in which cases it refers to, so it is at will, and these investments will be the criterion for the definition of environmental policy," she emphasizes.
Also problematic, she notes, is that many investors do not know what is going on in protected areas as there is no clear framework.
"Indeed, the country has been late in properly planning and characterizing protected areas, but at the moment and for the past two years, the Energy Ministry has been implementing a project of 17 million euros just to define and issue presidential decrees for all areas Natura," emphasizes Christopoulou.
A report from parliament’s Scientific Service also referrs to article 219 and expresses serious reservations. It points out that "in order for the legislative authorization to be legal, it must be specific and defined, that is, it must make a specific determination of its object and determine its limits in relation to it. The empowering provision must therefore not be general and vague. "