The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) rings alarm bells over Greece’s poor performance regarding environmental protection in a review of the organisation’s local branch.

According to its recently released 14th annual report, which was published with support from the national NGO Nomos + Physis, the country has a disappointing record in EU environmental law implementation exhibiting non-compliance with 11 EU court rulings.

Greece also accounts for 27 open cases of environmental law violation, a number only surpassed by Spain among its EU counterparts with 30 infringement cases.

“The Greek state must safeguard the respect for environmental legislation and unimpeded access to this information as is appropriate to a country governed by the rule of law,” said WWF Hellas’s legal coordinator Giorgos Hasiotis. Among the shortcomings cited in the assessment were the recent east Attica wildfires, fines of up to 100 million euros imposed by the EU for non-compliance issues – mainly relating to illegal and dangerous waste disposal – as well as the lack of clarity in licensing frameworks governing seismic exploration and oil and gas extraction.

During a press conference, WWF Greece chief executive Dimitris Karavelas highlighted hydrocarbon extraction as a primary threat to environmental protection urging the government to act on concerns expressed by citizens and organisations alike, while head of policy Theodota Natsou criticized the way of tackling environmental violations merely with financial sanctions as failing to support prevention and cultivate environmental awareness.

The report made mention of the country’s positive developments as well, such as the expansion of the Natura 2000 Network which provides for the designation of special protection areas and conservation sites.