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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-11-20

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gov't waging tough battle for economy
  • [02] Environmental issues high on EU agenda, Dimas says

  • [01] Gov't waging tough battle for economy

    The New Democracy (ND) government and its national economy and finance minister George Algoskoufis are waging a "tough battle", as they inherited an economy that was in "dire straits" from the preceding PASOK government, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis said in an interview with Ethnos newspaper appearing in its Sunday edition.

    "Possibly, some things should have been done earlier", but there were "previously undertaken commitments for the (Athens 2004) Olympic Games," she added.

    Turning to the reforms the government is advancing, Bakoyannis said that "while the overwhelming majority of the political world demands structural changes, every time something is about to begin, the positions of the political world comprise examples of pharisaism and hypocrisy...and I am speaking indiscriminately about the positions of the politicians who bow to the god of political cost".

    Asked whether she was ready to return to the active political scene, Bakoyannis noted that, as mayor of Athens, she is "actively involved", adding that "when there are initiatives by the prime minister, there will be the corresponding responses".

    She further denied rumours of a "secret agreement" between herself and prime minister Costas Karamanlis, noting that "in politics, there are no 'secret' agreements".

    Commenting on her term in the mayorship of Athens, Bakoyannis said that the interventions at Votanikos and Elaionas and simultaneously on Alexandras Avenue will be the biggest environmental and developmental intervention in recent years in Athens, and will "seal the important work carried out during these years in the City of Athens".

    [02] Environmental issues high on EU agenda, Dimas says

    The main goal is to maintain environmental issues high on the European agenda, Greece's EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas said Sunday, speeking to reporters in Brussels on the first anniversary of his assumption of the European Commission portfolio on the environment.

    Briefly outlining the work accomplished by the Commission on environmental and environmental protection issues during that year, Dimas expressed satisfaction with the European Parliament's recent adoption of the Commission's proposal on the REACH regulation on chemical substances and their hazard to public health, opeining that this was a significant step towards achieving a political agreement at the EUropean Council by the end of the year.

    The REACH regulation, he explained, concerned the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemical substances (comprising the REACH acronym). It also provides for the establishment of a comprehensive catalogue of the tens of thousands of chemical substances used by industries and manufacturers, and the substances' properties.

    At the same time, Dimas continued, it would encourage, to the degree possible, the use of safer substances or less hazardous subsitutes for those considered high-risk, noting that the properties of only 20 percent of the chemicals used today in industry were known.

    "There are reactions by the industries," the Commissioner said, adding that this was logical given that the REACH legislation would create additional costs for them. However, he said, what was important was that gradually every manufacturer or importer would not only be required to evaluate and register the products he sells and markets, but would also be required to warn consumers on the products' potential hazard to human health.

    The European Parliament on Thursday approved legislation requiring safety testing of thousands of compounds widely used in everyday products, endorsing a policy that would overhaul how the public was protected from toxic chemicals. The regulation, if approved by the Council of Europe's national governments, would force industries worldwide to test their chemicals for effects on human health and the environment. It would be the world's strictest standard, eclipsing U.S. laws, and could lead to global bans on some compounds. Chemicals found in a variety of products - such as computers, cosmetics, cars, furniture, detergent and pesticides - would have to undergo basic toxicity testing. Those used in the largest volumes would be subjected to more rigorous testing. Called Reach, or Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals, the law could cost American industries that export products to Europe billions of dollars. The Bush administration and the U.S. chemical industry teamed to fight the European Union's proposal. Under current U.S. and EU laws, most chemicals - those that were used before 1981 in Europe and 1976 in the United States - are not required to undergo toxicity testing.

    Turning to the Commission's efforts on the problem of climate changes, Dimas recalled that the EU has committed itself, under the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce industrial pollution by 8 percent by 2012.

    Dimas noted that the Commission has undertaken actions to reduce the pollutants emissions from air transports, energy industries, and other industrial installations which, he said, often do not operate in a manner compatible with the conditions set out by EU legislation on industrial pollution.

    As for Greece, Dimas stressed the special role the country can play in the Balkans on environmental protection issues.

    Regarding Greece's adherence to the commitments entailed in the Kyoto Protocol, Dimas said that it would be useful if the most polluting Greek industries started gradually investing in pollution reduction measures, eve though it did not seem obligatory and necessary in the short term.

    Dimas further referred to a series of other environmental issues on which the Commission has undertaken specific actions over the past year, such as the strategy for containing atmospheric pollution, the strategy ground, water and sea quality, and the strategy on waste and preservation of the ecosystems.

    An announcement issued by the Commissioner's office said that the Commission proposes, for the period 2007-2013, a 90 percent increase -- increase of 2.5 billion euros -- in funding for environmental studies. It also proposes another 520 million euros for subsidising 'ecological' innovations, in the framework of the European action plan on environmental technologies.l

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