During the first five crucial years of the Greek economic crisis (2009-2014), I was in charge of the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change. The challenges ahead of us were overwhelming: forming a national energy strategy inspiring confidence and outward looking in our international and regional cooperation; establishing a strong geostrategic advantage within an unstable neighborhood with civil wars and conflicts; initiating our national role as the main European energy hub for transportation and supply of gas; reinforcing the exploitation of our national hydrocarbon resources; supporting renewable energy sources by adjusting our legal framework and establishing a competitive internal market; adopting innovative measures of support for the socially and economically poorest in our midst these were some of the challenges we had to deal with back then and of course many more, all of equal significance and equally demanding of reforms.
Given that experience, today we are ready to propose a new holistic development and geopolitical approach for Greece:
- We believe in a modern Greece, characterised by national self-confidence, openness, orientation towards Europe and support for innovation and progressive reforms, as well as maintaining a powerful social solidarity network: In a Greece of modern progressive patriotism.
- We believe in growth which is sustainable (respecting the environment), smart (using new technologies), circular (with re-use and recycling of raw materials), without exclusion (of young people, women, people with disabilities, etc.), socially fair and distributed around the whole country (with social solidarity and fewer regional inequalities) and, not least, one that creates jobs.
- We believe that energy, the environment, new technologies and communications, public works, regional planning are basic pillars of a new progressive productive model for the country, which must be immediately adopted and put into effect.
To stimulate the required public dialogue, we, together with all creative forces in society, are submitting 24 concrete proposals for the forenamed sectors of the Greek economy.
The +1 proposal in the heading concerns our choice of an employment clause in each case of exploitation of public assets, as well as a clear clause on the participation of public authorities in future revenue-raising and profit, since it is well-known that today’s economic conditions do not allow any significant economic benefits for the public.
The following proposals are set out by sector of activity:
- Immediate re-adoption of the “Save At-Home” programme on energy efficiency, with an extension to public and commercial buildings. Completion with powerful tax incentives. Creation of 50,000 jobs in the constructions sector over the next two years. The Programme including the strategy of its extension has been assessed as the 2nd best of its kind among all EU member states.
- Financing of power self-generation through renewable energy sources (RES), especially in the agricultural sector (Local Agencies for Land Improvements – Irrigation), by using the Structural Funds of the EU and aiming thereby to halve the energy production cost within agricultural products and buttress the competitiveness of agricultural products on international markets. Application of Net Metering principles, in the framework of Energy Democracy, by promoting many distributed small self-producers and consumers.
- Extension of the 70% discount foreseen by the Solidarity Services Invoice (Ministerial Decree 19.12.2014) for municipal, ecclesiastical and social bodies, in accordance with our 2014 proposal, to the supply of natural gas.
- Resumption of the tendering procedures for the exploration and exploitation of national deposits of hydrocarbons, ensuring the continued operation of the Fund of Social Solidarity between Generations.
- Priority given to implementing important pipelines and other projects of natural gas infrastructure (TAP, EASTMED, IGB, FSRU, Revythousa), as well as power grid interconnection of the islands (Crete, etc.), which were included in the Trans-European Energy Networks (PCIs).
- Expansion of the natural gas distribution networks to high-pressure pipeline transit areas and power supply of remote and island areas through Liquefied/Compressed natural gas units.
- Resolution of water supply problems in the islands and all coastal areas of the country through the creation of desalination facilities by Public – Private Partnerships (PPPs) (through the water supply and sewage operator EYDAP for the Islands).
- Creation of a sustainable National System of Protected Areas (with permanent funding) and performance of development – economic activities directly by the organisations and agencies. Creation of 2,000 new jobs.
- Support for waste management PPPs – application of recycling of all types of waste. Creation of 5,000 jobs.
- Digital, on-line submission and approval of all environmental studies and reports (“Environmental Transparency”) according to the web platform we have set up. Creation of Registries of Certified Environmental Inspectors and Report Auditors (5,000 jobs).
- Development of an electronic application enabling citizens to record environmental offences in real time through smart phones and direct on-line updates for the Administration.
- Full allocation of ENFIA (unified property ownership tax) to the local authorities in the context of an extensive rescheduling of their resources – Transfer of urban planning competences to local government.
- Implementation of electronic on-line submissions for and issuing of building licenses to all urban planning authorities of the country. Complete eradication of corruption in Urban Planning Authorities. Expansion of the Registry of Building Controllers (over 10,000).
- Plans of Integrated Urban Interventions (PIUIs) for Thessaloniki, Western Athens, Piraeus and big urban complexes, on the lines of the PIUI for the centre of Athens established in 2014.
- Application of the provisions of the new Regulatory Plan of Athens – Attica (2014), 30 years after the previous one “Tritsis Law“. Resumption of investments and development in the extended area of Attica. Adoption of the new regulatory plan of Thessaloniki which is already available.
- Special incentives for the exploitation of abandoned buildings in city centres with particular emphasis on listed buildings (over 1,800 only in the centre of Athens) for the benefit of the public interest.
- Implementation of provisions on the exchange of land belonging to Construction Cooperatives (100,000 members) for public land in falling population settlements of remote areas (Law 4280/2014) and implementation of the Land Bank.
- Adoption of Integrated Anti-Flood and Anti-Earthquake Protection plans for building reserves and technical infrastructure per Region based on innovative new technologies.
Networks – smart economy
- Promotion of “Smart Cities” with fibre optics for all households, smart meters and networks, waste management e-services, sustainable urban mobility, electronic interactive communication between citizens and local government, reduction of environmental damage and energy consumption.
- Promotion of Internet Of Things (IoT) applications to contribute €1 billion to GDP over the next five years, and creation in Greece of large digital information warehouses serving Europe, Asia and Africa at the same time.
- Tax incentives for companies that become “Green”.
- Freeing all research institutes of the country from state interventionist policies in order to support competitiveness and fully self-sustaining economic and commercial exploitation of the innovations they produce. Special self-funding incentives for researchers; strong incentives for universities.
- New public administration, with an upgraded role for public technical services and transformation of the state into a project manager supervising and regulating the market, keeping records of Certified Controllers/Inspectors, and creating jobs in the private sector rather than absorbing jobs. Application of best construction and cost-effective solutions making use of “competitive dialogue” and “open consultation”.
- For all major projects over €10 million a cost-benefit study to be drawn up to document the need for such projects and “preliminary works” (such as expropriations, excavations and public utility networks) are to precede the execution of the project. Utilisation of all sources of funding (PPPs, concessions, Project Bonds).
Greece has become a global economic and social laboratory due to the many wrong calculations of the Memoranda we have signed with our creditors, mainly E.U. and I.M.F. It’s up to us to use this experience in a positive direction: becoming an innovative, sustainable, beautiful place to live and a pioneering progressive society that applies new structural reforms bringing prosperity and happiness to Greek citizens.