Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission
The new port of Igoumenitsa and the improvement of its road connection were initially submitted to the Commission for co-financing as a Major Project (Articles 39-41 of Regulation 1083/06(1)). As the total cost of the proposed project was lower than EUR 50 million, this was not considered as a Major Project. Projects other than the Major Projects are selected and appraised by the competent national, regional and local authorities and Managing Authorities, which are responsible for co-funding in the framework of the Operational Programme ‘Accessibility Improvement’. These authorities will also have to assess the eligibility criteria and ensure conformity with the relevant EU legislation.
The information submitted by the Greek authorities shows that the project was made subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA), in accordance with the requirements of Directive 2011/92/EU(2); the EIA process was concluded with the adoption of the Joint Ministerial Decisions (KYA) 139663/18-05-09 and 129334/23-08-10.
The Commission cannot substitute Member States in their responsibilities with respect to the permitting and evaluation of projects, and can only intervene in case of a clear breach of EC law. The decision on the localisation of a project falls within the responsibility of the national authorities. If the Greek authorities adopt a different alternative, they have to consider the environmental impacts of such a modification and possibly modify the physical object of the co-funded project.
The Environmental Impact Study prepared prior to the adoption of the Joint Ministerial Decision 129334/23-08-10 foresees that the aggregates from the improvement of the existing national road can be used for the construction of the port.