How EU subsidies are wasted on environmentally harmful activities
The Egnatia highway project ran from the 1990s until its completion in 2009 with total EU financing of EUR 2.5bn (European Regional Development Fund – ERDF and the Cohesion Fund). The motorway passes through the Pindos Mountains, where 5% of the road was of concern to NGOs for fragmentation of the landscape, and threatening the ecology of the area. Although NGOs put forward alternative routes, the project still retained most of the ecological problems including hampering the conservation of the local bear population. Bears have a low reproductive rate and are vulnerable to human-related mortality and habitat fragmentation, particularly as a result of transportation infrastructure development. At the same time, EU funds from the LIFE programme have been used to protect the same bears in the region. This inconsistency in the use of EU funds reduces the effectiveness, impacting the natural environment and reducing socio-economic benefits.
How EU funds can be invested into future benefits
The Mikri Prespa Lake is one of the oldest lakes in Europe. It hosts the largest breeding colony of Dalmatian Pelicans worldwide and one of the biggest colonies of Pygmy Cormorants in Europe. Combining traditional experience from the local community, with scientific knowledge, the threats deriving from the degradation of wet-meadows were halted through a LIFE project, a project that was also evaluated as one of the five “Best of the best” LIFE projects in Europe in 2007-8.The project greatly contributed to changing local inhabitants’ views on the significance of the wetland management and the socio-economic and practical benefits deriving from it. The project was a win-win case for nature and the local community as it proved to be a valuable investment for both.