Greece Fined Over Failure to Combat Water Pollution

(CN) – Europe’s top court on Thursday ordered Greece to pay $3.8 million for failing to protect its waters from pollution caused by farming.

The European Court of Justice imposed the fine because Greece was slow to enact measures to protect the Plain of Thessaly, the River Evros and other areas from nitrate pollution. An English version of the ruling was not available.

The court said in a news release that Greece failed to designate vulnerable zones and set up programs to protect them from high concentrations of nitrates, which can lead to harmful algal blooms that deplete oxygen in water and kill marine animals. Nitrates are used as fertilizers in agriculture.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, brought the case against Greece. Last year, the commission charged that Greece had failed to carry out protection measures stipulated under a 2015 court order.

After the commission’s complaints in 2019, Greece took steps to comply with the judgment. Still, the commission asked the court to impose a fine on Greece for taking so long to take action.

On Thursday, the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice chided Greece for its reluctance to comply with EU regulations. It said the fine was reasonable considering how long it took for the country to comply with the 2015 judgment.

The court said such a hefty fine will deter Greece from not adopting environmental measures in the future. It noted that the country’s economy is doing better and said it can afford to pay the fine. Greece fell into sharp economic recession following the 2008 financial meltdown and the country has struggled since then to comply with strict budget constraints imposed by the EU.

(Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.)

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