One of the most important mining investments by the company Hellas Gold SA is currently under way in Northern Greece (Skouries, Halkidiki), in the objective of utilising the rich reserves available.

While Greece is still struggling through the ongoing financial crisis, the Greek Government is seeking to terminate the contract with Hellas Gold SA on the grounds of alleged environmental sensitivities, with total disregard for the legal licences, the right to work of 2000 workers and rulings by the supreme administrative court in Greece, the Council of State, holding that the environmental impact study is fully compliant with current legislation.

In view of the above, will the Commission say:

What is its specific policy and plan regarding productive utilisation of rich deposits, such as those found in Halkidiki, within the context of current and/or future European initiatives on raw materials?

What action could it intend to take to help overcome the obstacles to the investment in question, which is clearly in the public interest, if it finds that it is in breach of Community law?

How could workers be protected in the event of that the new government causes persistent delays by demanding unjustified review of the judgments delivered by the Council of State allowing the project to continue?

Answer given by Ms Bieńkowska on behalf of the Commission

The Commission recognises the role of raw materials is essential for the sustainable functioning of modern economies. This is the reason why the Commission launched in 2008 the Raw Materials Initiative and reinforced it in 2011.

Mining permits and concessions are subject to the freedom of services and establishment according to Community law. As regards this specific case, the Commission is not aware of any official complaint until now.