Commission takes on Greece over viper protection

The European Commission took Greece to court over its failure to protect vipers on the island of Milos

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) gave judgement in the case of Commission v Greece (Case C-518/04) on 16 March 2006. The Commission sought a declaration of the Court that, by failing to take the necessary measures for the establishment and application of an effective system of strict protection for the viper (vipera schweizeri) on the island of Milos in order to avoid any deliberate disturbance of the species, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and hibernation, and any deterioration or destruction of breeding sites or resting places, Greece had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 12(1)(b) and (d) of the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC).

While the Greek authorities tried to argue that the necessary legislative framework was in force, and various programs and activities of management were in progress sufficient to ensure such protection (also citing the current stability of the population of the vipers concerned which proved the success of the measures which had been adopted) the Commission pointed out that this did not guarantee their protection insofar as mines would be worked in sites of their reproduction and rest areas of the species, and therefore did not protect the species from disturbance. The Court held that Greece had failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 12(1)(b) and (d) of the Directive, with Greece therefore being ordered to pay the costs of the case. The full text of the judgement is available in French and Greek at the following link:
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