The Friends of Paros & Antiparos co-signs the following document sent on January 6 to the Ministers of Economy and Environment with our proposals for the change of the legislation for the granting of the simple use of the shore and the beach.
Minister of National Economy and Finance, Mr. Konstantinos Hatzidakis
Minister for the Environment and Energy Mr. Theodoros Skylakakis
General Secretariat of Public Property Mrs. Nayia Kollia
Mayor of Paros, Mr. Konstantinos Bizas
Heads of Municipal Parties of the Municipality of Paros:
Mr. Markos Koveos
Mr. Konstantinos Rokonidas
Members of Parliament for Cyclades:
Mr. Ioannis Vroutsis
Mr. Marko Kafouro
Mr. Katerina Monoyiou
Mr. Filippos Fortoma
Region of South Aegean
Subject: Proposals for changes in the legislation governing the concession of simple use of the seashore and its consistent application.
The Citizens’ Movements in the summer of 2023 vigorously claimed the right for free access to the beaches of our country. From the publicity received by the actions of the Movements and the interest expressed by our fellow citizens, it became clear that the phenomenon of arbitrariness on beaches is extensive and serious and concerns the entire Greek territory.
The summer experience has shown that the arbitrary occupation of beaches is favoured by the existing legislative framework and by the extreme lack of personnel and control mechanisms. The multiplicity of laws and overlapping responsibilities of the many involved bodies [Municipalities, Public Land Service, Police, Port Authority, Port Fund, ETAD (Public Real Estate Company), Town Planning, etc.] allows the avoidance of official responsibilities and
hinders the implementation of legislation and the issuance of administrative and judicial decisions.
This failure to implement the Law emboldens trespassers “entrepreneurs” who arbitrarily occupy public space on the beaches (by placing umbrellas/sunbeds or with permanent/semi-permanent constructions) in violation of the terms of the concession of simple use of the seashore and sometimes without any concession permit.
Illegal operators are also encouraged by the virtually non-existent sanctions – fines corresponding to the receipts of a few days – and by the total lack of transparency governing the administrative penalties imposed.
The Citizens’ Movements highlighted the inadequacy of the control mechanisms and the dysfunction of the competent Services. On many beaches of the country, with the typical example of Naxos, illegally placed umbrellas/sunbeds were removed the day before the control of the authorities, only to be reinstalled after the departure of the Prosecutor of Appeals or the Real Estate Service from the island. In other cases, the institutional addresses of the Movements went unanswered. For example, the Citizens’ Movement of Paros has submitted a detailed Application to the Real Estate Service and the General Secretariat of Public Property without receiving any response. In addition, the Real Estate Service refuses to inform the Movement of the results of its decisions, citing the “protection of personal data” of companies that break the law, misinterpreting Article 9 A of the Constitution and Directive 680/2016 / EU and extending the protection of personal data from individuals to legal entities, i.e. illegal companies.
In this context and in an effort to collectively contribute to the settlement of the issue in a way that corresponds to our constitutionally guaranteed right to free access to the seashore, we propose the following regulations in the legislation covering the Concessions for the Use of the Seashore, at two basic levels: at the level of Legislation and at the level of implementation of Legislation.
Α. At the level of Legislation.
We request the change of the legislative framework to ensure the following:
- Concentration of powers in municipalities: Municipalities should have competence in controlling and sanctioning violators and removing illegally installed umbrellas, sunbeds or other illegal temporary or permanent structures. The transfer of the above responsibilities to the Municipalities must be accompanied by enhanced Transparency (publication of audits and administrative acts) and the possibility of citizens appealing to the Central Administration in case the Municipalities do not implement the legislation.
- Checks with remote sensing technologies on digital maps of the coastal area: By recording the concession contracts and comparing the observed coverage with remote monitoring technologies, the competent control authorities (e.g. the competent municipal committees) will be able to remotely control and continuously document violations without resorting to repeated inspections. It is also imperative to create digital maps depicting beaches and their sensitive coastal ecosystems.
- Completion of the procedures for the auction and lease of the seashore within a sufficient period of time before the start of the tourist season, for example on March 30 instead of July 31st as defined by the last Joint Ministerial Decision 38609/2023 (article 6).
- Clear definition of expiry time (no later than the end of October) at which umbrellas/sunbeds must be removed from the beach. The obligation to withdraw must also include the basis of umbrellas. Fixing (concrete or other) bases for umbrellas should be expressly prohibited.
- Reduction of the maximum permitted proportion of a beach concession (total concessions for the use of the seashore) to 40% of the total area of the beach, without taking into account the inaccessible or unusable sections. Prohibition of simple use of a seashore/beach concession in areas included in the Natura 2000 network.
- Tightening of the conditions under which a Municipality can auction parts of beaches, in order to keep more beaches completely free for use by the public.
- The lease of “old seashores” by the Public Real Estate Service should concern exclusively the provision of vicinity to the companies that lease part of the seashore/beach and not the installation of umbrellas/sunbeds on the “old seashore”. In the same context, the designation of all “old seashores” as communal should be extended, as is the case with the newer alignments of “old seashores”.
- Simplification of the procedure through which citizens can report cases of possible violations of a concession contract on the seashore (‘one-stop shop’), while enhancing transparency in the examination of the complaint by the actors involved.
- Addendum to paragraph 15(c) of the JMD: “In case of repetition of the violation of the concession terms by the beneficiaries in a subsequent concession contract, they should be prohibited from submitting a lease application in the future”.
- Furthermore, until the compliance of the company with the applicable Legislation, the suspension of its operation should take immediate effect, and in case of relapse or refusal of compliance, the concession license should be permanently revoked, and the license to operate the business should be suspended or withdrawn.
- In Article 10 of the JMD, in the wording “Municipalities are obliged to post on their website the details of each concession”, to add “shall be accompanied by a drawing and a photograph of the space to be provided”.
Β. At the level of implementation of legislation.
- Adequate staffing of all competent services involved in the process of issuing the Concession Agreements for the Use of the Seashore and Beach as well as the control of compliance with the terms of the contracts (Real Estate Service, Public Prosecutors, Coast Guard, Police, Municipalities).
- The implementation of the provision that provides for the revocation of a license in case of misconduct, as provided for in Joint Ministerial Decision 38609/2023 (article 15 (c)) and not the imposition of fines as is usually the case. Fines do not help entrepreneurs comply, since they often amount to a few days’ receipts.
- To define sanctions in case of non-implementation of Law 4607/2019 (Article 31, par. 9) according to which concessionaires are obliged to mark on the ground and -in a conspicuous place- with a sign of specific dimensions the boundaries of the concession space in a way, recognizable and easily perceived by the users of the seashore.
Correspondingly, implementation of the same Law by municipal local authorities, who are obliged to post in a prominent place on the seashore a sign with the plan of the seashore on which all concessions on the specific seashore will be marked.
- Simplification and acceleration of procedures for issuing protocols for the administrative expulsion of arbitrarily placed beach furniture.
- Immediate publication of the autopsies carried out by the local Real Estate Services on their website.
- Update on the prosecution actions following the visits of the Prosecutor of the Aegean Court of Appeals, Mr. Tzorbatzoglou, to various islands of the Cyclades in August 2023 and their results.
We look forward to your response to our requests so that the State can prove that it understands its responsibility to protect the public character of beaches, as required by the Constitution of Greece (Article 24).
CULTURAL ASSOCIATION OF PAROS ARCHILOCHOS
PAROS CITIZENS’ MOVEMENT
FRIENDS OF PAROS & ANTIPAROS
SYROS ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OBSERVATORY
NETWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE CYCLADES