Greece

I - Political context

***General observations:

For the completion of large parts of this questionnaire (TFEU amendment, ESM, Fiscal Compact) only the parliamentary debates in the Parliament Plenum were used as a source. The debates in the special parliamentary committees are only available in video.

Political change     
I.1
What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in Greece? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?

Since 2008, Greece has experienced major social and political developments that are exceptional, if not unique, for a western state. Since the end of the colonels’ dictatorship (1967-1974), two parties have traditionally been at the center of the political scene: PA.SO.K. (Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement, center-left, socialist) and N.D. (New Democracy, center-right). The last decade before the economic crisis, Greece has experienced a period of outstanding economic growth. However, the Greek economy and the State mechanism have always been characterized by important structural deficiencies, mainly caused by the establishment of a clientelist system, corruption, and the constant failure of reforms.[1]

After five years of Government by the center-right N.D., political and social crisis in Greece was already obvious from the violent riots of December 2008, following the murder of a young anarchist by the police in Athens.[2] The center-left socialist party PA.SO.K. won the early elections of October 2009 with the slogan “there is money”, promising that it would not proceed to any austerity measures, even though N.D. warned that such measures were indispensible.[3] However, almost immediately after the elections, Eurostat revealed the real data on the Greek deficit, together with the statistics juggling committed by the N.D. Government.[4] Thus, the Government of PA.SO.K. was taken by surprise and finally decided to proceed to austerity measures in March 2010 (see section X). However, in the autumn of 2009, the credit rate of the Greek State was devaluated by the rating agencies. In April 2010, the Greek Government officially asked for financial assistance by the IMF and the EU. A loan agreement of 110bn. was concluded, accompanied by the so-called Memorandum of Understanding, which stipulated measures of unprecedented austerity as a condition for the financial assistance to Greece.[5] Violent protests and general strikes followed.[6] This important shift in the government program was considered approved by the Greek people via the local elections in November 2010, won by PA.SO.K.[7] According to the loan agreement, each disbursement of the loan to Greece would take place by a unanimous Eurogroup decision, depending on the evaluations of the reforms to which the Greek Government has proceeded by the so-called “troika”, composed by a representative of the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission. This new technocrat institution has thus acquired extraordinary powers, and Giannis Drosos, Professor of Constitutional Law, has talked about a new way of functioning of the Constitution.[8]

The reforms agreed between the Government and the “troika” proved to be difficult to implement in practice. The following months many general strikes were called, local crises and conflicts between citizens and the police took place, protests became more and more violent and incidents like political suicides repeatedly shocked the public opinion. In June 2011, after having obtained the vote of confidence by Parliament, the Government, while an enormous and violent protest was unfolding in the center of Athens, voted a new austerity package contained in the Medium term budgetary framework for the period 2012-2015.[9] In July a new bailout of 109 bn. for Greece was agreed.[10] Meanwhile, an important social movement that had started through the internet, following the example of mobilizations in Spain, was getting more and more important.[11] In October 2011, a “haircut” of 50% of the Greek debt was agreed between the Greek Government, the European leaders, the IMF and banks, with the voluntary participation of the private sector (PSI).[12] The Prime Minister announced a referendum because new austerity measures were demanded as a condition for the loaning agreement. This decision had been immediately translated by the press as posing to the Greek people the dilemma between Euro and drachma.[13] However, under pressure of European leaders and the criticism by a large part of the political world in Greece, Giorgos Papandreou retired the referendum proposal on the 3rd of November.[14] Some days later, he resigned in order for the President of the Republic to form a coalition government.[15]

Indeed, on the 11th of November a new Government was formed with the support of PA.SO.K., N.D., and the far right populist LA.O.S. (Popular Orthodox Rally). Loukas Papademos, a technocrat recognized by the European partners for his service as a vice-president of the ECB, was appointed Prime Minister. [16] The main task of the new Government was to make sure that Greece would fulfill its obligations vis-à-vis its European partners and then to lead the country to elections. In February 2012, and while another violent protest with a very high participation was unfolding outside the Greek Parliament, another austerity package was voted, in order to satisfy the conditions set by the Memorandum of Understanding for the second bail-out agreement. Many deputies of the Government coalition refused to vote further austerity measures and were suppressed from the parliamentary groups of their parties, thus weakening importantly the parliamentary majority supporting the Government.[17] Restructuring of the Greek debt was concluded in April 2012 and elections were announced for the 6th of May.

The elections of the 6th of May marked a new era in Greek political life. For the first time, a total of seven parties were elected in Parliament, of which three for the first time (AN.EL. – Independent Greeks, a right wing patriotic party, DIM.AR. – Democratic Left, a left party formed by deputies who had seceded from SY.RIZ.A. and which held a more moderate position than the latter, and Chrysi Avgi – Golden Dawn, the ultra-nationalist party. The rest of the parties in Parliament were N.D., SY.RIZ.A., PA.SO.K., and the Communist Party, K.K.E.). The two traditional big parties, N.D. and PA.SO.K., obtained a very low percentage (32,03% in total combined, instead of 77,39% in the elections of 2009), whereas the third party of the Papademos Government coalition, LA.O.S., did not obtain seats in Parliament. On the other hand, the parties opposed to the governmental austerity policies obtained an important increase of their percentage. It is remarkable that SY.RIZ.A., a left party composed by components ranged from center left to extreme left, quadrupled its 2009 percentage by obtaining the 16,78% of the votes. Chrysi Avgi obtained a 6,68% of the votes, whereas, in the previous elections it had obtained only a percentage that did not exceed the 0,25%.[18]

The results of the elections were interpreted as showing the anger of the Greek people against corruption and the policies of austerity pursued by previous Governments. The social dimension of the crisis was a key factor. Indeed, the political world was literally divided between the Memorandum and the anti-Memorandum forces and so was society.[19] After the shocking results of the May elections, PA.SO.K. and N.D. also integrated in their political programs the renegotiation of the terms of the Memorandum and the adoption of social policy measures.[20]

The great dispersion of votes in the 2012 elections made it impossible to form a government that would enjoy social legitimacy, as SY.RIZ.A. refused to participate in a government that would not renounce the commitment of the country to the Memoranda. The leaders of the two big parties had provided personal letters to the Eurozone partners, where they expressed their personal commitment to the obligations of the Greek state contained in the bailout agreements.[21] Therefore, in the lack of agreement between the two first parties, an interim Government under the Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, former president of the Council of State, led the country to new elections on the 17th of June. During the pre-election period, European leaders and the media constantly stressed the danger of a “Grexit”. According to the President of the Republic, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a personal conversation, went as far as to propose to him the holding of a referendum about the remaining of the country in the Euro.[22] In the June elections, a polarization of the electoral body was observed and N.D. and SY.RIZ.A. obtained higher percentages (29,66% and 26,89% respectively).[23] Hence, a coalition government was formed with the participation of the three pro-European parties, N.D., PA.SO.K., and DIM.AR, under the chief of the N.D. party, Antonis Samaras. The mandate of the Greek people was interpreted as imposing the remaining of the country in the Eurozone, thus enhancing the necessary structural reforms, while renegotiating the harsh austerity conditions set by the European partners.[24]

From June 2012 until the summer of 2013, the political situation in Greece seemed relatively appeased. Of course, general strikes, protests, and local conflicts between citizens and the police did not cease to exist. Moreover, racist attacks against immigrants became more and more recurrent. Nevertheless, the Greek people seemed to be used to the functioning of the Government, a delicate combination of decisions between the Government coalition and the “troika”. However, a general degradation of the rule of law has been observed and the executive is systematically infringing constitutional rights, such as the freedom of expression.[25] Furthermore, the excessive use of “administrative acts of legislative content”[26] and other emergency legislation procedures have caused a degeneration of the functioning of the Parliament which is unprecedented since the fall of the military junta in 1974. On the 12th of June 2013, the closure of the public radio and television by the Government authorized with such an act, and despite the disagreement of the Government parties, caused the reaction of the press and the political world in Greece and abroad.[27] On the 21st of June 2013, DIM.AR. (Democratic Left, the left party) announced that it does not any more support the Government coalition, which is now only supported by N.D. and PA.SO.K.. The public television issue was the main cause of disagreement between left and the government.[28]

It is important to note that Greece in 2013 was passing its sixth consecutive year of economic recession. Greek employees have suffered a harsh reduction of their income,[29] while unemployment has reached 27,4% of the population[30] (while it was at 8,3% in 2007)[31] and 62,5% for under 25 years old.[32] According to the statistics of NGOs, Greece was the country in Europe with the highest percentage of increase in suicides.[33]

The socio-economic situation did not change much in the following years, despite the fact that the statistics of the Greek economy slightly ameliorated. In May 2014 the local, regional and European elections took place and were perceived as a victory for SY.RIZ.A., but also for extreme right parties like Chrysi Avgi. This result was confirmed in the elections of January 2015 that took place after an unsuccessful voting for the President of the Republic. SY.RIZ.A. collected 36.3% of the votes, against 27.8% for N.D. Chrysi Avgi was the third party, with 6.3% of the votes. After its victory, SY.RIZ.A. formed a government coalition with the patriot and populist party AN.EL. Shortly after its nomination, the SY.RIZ.A.-AN.EL. Government announced that it will not apply the Economic Adjustment Programme agreed by the previous Government and that it does not recognize the “troika” as an institutional interlocutor. Since, the Government is negotiating with the country’s creditors (the “institutions”) for a new agreement on the Greek debt and a “Grexit” seems possible.

[1] Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, “ The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Greek Constitution”, in Xenophon Contiades (ed.), Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis (Ashgate 2013),  chapter 7, 195.

[2] Vaios Papanagnou, “December 2008: the hate”, To Vima, 6 December 2011, http://www.tovima.gr/vimagazino/views/article/?aid=433521.

[3] Giannis Pretenteris, “There is money!” [in Greek], To Vima, 27 May 2012, http://www.tovima.gr/opinions/article/?aid=459615.

[4] See Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, op. cit., 195. N.D. had estimated the deficit of 2009 to be at 5.4% GDP, whereas Eurostat at 15.4% GDP! However, the chairman of the Greek Statistics’ Authority, the authority that provided the relevant data to Eurostat, is suspected by the Greek justice for artificially inflating the deficit numbers. Cf. Evangelos Vallianatos, “The Greek Lesson”, The Huffington Post, 12 December 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/evaggelos-vallianatos/the-greek-lesson_b_2279413.html.

[5] See the questions in the section “Member States receiving financial assistance”.

[6] During one protest three employees of a private bank who could not participate in the general strike died because of a fire in the building where they were working. The fire was put during the protests. This incident shocked the public opinion. Cf. http://tvxs.gr/news/%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%AC%CE%B4%CE%B1/%CF%84%CF%81%CE%B5%CE%B9%CF%82-%CE%BD%CE%B5%CE%BA%CF%81%CE%BF%CE%AF-%CE%B1%CF%80%CF%8C-%CE%B1%CF%83%CF%86%CF%85%CE%BE%CE%AF%CE%B1-%CF%83%CE%B5-%CF%84%CF%81%CE%AC%CF%80%CE%B5%CE%B6%CE%B1-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF-%CF%83%CF%8D%CE%BD%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%B3%CE%BC%CE%B1

[7] See the interview of the Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou to the journal To Vima on the 14th of April 2010, http://archive.pasok.gr/portal/resource/contentObject/id/c6d1bb17-ee7b-4a54-a152-2b46216c249f. In this interview, the Prime Minister conferred clear political character to the local elections.

[8] Giannis Drosos, «ΤοΜνημόνιοως σημείο στροφής του πολιτεύματος [The ‘Memorandum’ as a turning point of the regime]», www.constitutionalism.gr, published in The Book’s Journal, Vol. 6, April 2011, 42.

[9] “Greece austerity vote and demonstrations”, The Guardian, 29 June 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/jun/29/greece-austerity-vote-demonstrations.

[10] “EU leaders agree €109bn Greek bail-out”, The Financial Times, 21 July 2011, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/952e0326-b3af-11e0-855b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Wbu1s9TY. The bail-out was extended to 130 bn. with the Eurogroup decision of the 21st of February 2012.

[11] The Greek Indignant was a movement without a specific political identity, protesting against austerity and corruption. In this movement people from all the spectrum of the political world participated and thus was accused of increasing the influence of populist parties, and especially the Golden Dawn. See the article Antonis Liakos, “’Indignants’ and Golden Dawn”, I Avgi, 16 September 2012, http://archive.avgi.gr/ArticleActionshow.action?articleID=713898.

[12] See section “Member States receiving financial assistance”.

[13] “Papandréou nous impose de choisir entre lui et la drachme”, Le Monde, 3 November 2012, http://www.lemonde.fr/crise-financiere/article/2011/11/03/un-referendum-pour-choisir-entre-papandreou-et-le-drachme_1597547_1581613.html.

[14] “Referendum: “Yes” or “No” to the new loan agreement”, Ta Nea, 31 October 2011,  http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=427794. For the reactions of European leaders and especially Merkel and Sarkozy, cf. http://www.tovima.gr/finance/article/?aid=427899. The referendum was considered by the pro-European parties and certain members of PA.SO.K. as an indication of untrustworthiness of the Government towards the European partners. The left winged parties and other important personalities, on the other side, criticized the choice of the referendum because it would be presented as raising the dilemma of the remaining of the country inside Europe or no, a dilemma which, according to them, was artificial. For the reactions of the Greek political world to the referendum proposal cf. http://www.cosmo.gr/Epikairotita/Ellada/Politiki/epithesh-twn-kommatwn-sthn-apofash-toy-papandreoy-gia-dhmopshfisma.1433995.html.

[15] “Eurozone crisis: Greek PM George Papandreou to resign”, The Guardian, 6 November 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/06/greece-george-papandreou.

[16] Reuters, PROFILE-Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, 23rd November 2011, www.reuters.com/.

[17] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/feb/13/eurozone-crisis-greece-austerity-package-vote.

[18]             For the results of the elections of May 2012, cf. the site of the Minister of Internal Affairs, http://ekloges.ypes.gr/v2012b/public/index.html#{%22cls%22:%22main%22,%22params%22:{}}. 

[19] Cf. also Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, op. cit., 212. The authors say that the pro and anti Memoranda cleavage has substituted the traditional division between Left and Right.

[20]            For the program of N.D., cf. “The 18 propositions of N.D. for the economy”, Ta Nea, 31 May 2012, http://www.tanea.gr/news/greece/article/4726301/?iid=2. For the program of PASOK, cf. http://www.pasok.gr/portal/theseis_index.jsf. It is indicative that Antonis Samaras, for example, has promised the restitution of the lowest pensions and of some allowances to the levels of 2009, the institution of an urgent unemployment allowance, the abstention from the further reduction of salaries in the private sector, the reduction of the taxes and other measures that would improve the economic situation of the middle and the lower class households.

[21] For the exigency of the personal commitment of the Greek political leaders, cf. “Ultimatum Juncker for the 6th tranche”, To Vima, 22 November 2011, http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=431375.

[22] “The Presidency insists on the Merkel proposition for a referendum on the remaining in the Euro”, To Vima, 18 May 2012, http://www.tovima.gr/afieromata/elections2012/article/?aid=458414. This fact was denied by the German Chancellor but the Greek President of the Republic insisted on its truth.

[23] See the official site of the Minister of Internal Affairs http://ekloges.ypes.gr/v2012b/public/index.html#{%22cls%22:%22main%22,%22params%22:{}}.

[24] “Greece parties agree coalition government”, BBC News, 20 June 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18515185.

[25] See for example the press release of the Amnesty International on the 20th of June 2013, concerning the prosecution of the conscientious objectors in Greece, available at http://www.amnesty.org.gr/co-exioglou. See also the article on Reuters considering the arrest of a Greek journalist after having published the “Lagarde list”, “Greek editor stands trial over Swiss accounts list”, Reuters, 29 October 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/29/us-greece-corruption-list-idUSBRE89S0EP20121029. Finally, see the public statement of Amnesty International on the 22nd of March 2013, concerning the excessive use of police force against the protestants who object to the gold mining operations in the North of Greece, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR25/004/2013/en/c81397ca-0895-4f7a-92b5-82370134de8f/eur250042013en.html. Some of these protestants are now considered by the police to have formed a “criminal organization” and thus their phone calls and their phone conversations with various journalists have been recorded. See http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/mazikes-parakoloythiseis-dimosiografon-logo-xalkidikis.

[26] On this legal instrument and its normally exceptional character cf. question III.1.

[27] “Greek coalition in disarray after state broadcaster’s closure”, The Guardian, 12 June 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/12/greek-coalition-disarray-broadcaster-closure. Despite the decision of the Council of State, declaring the interruption of public radio and television illegal, ERT remains closed.

[28] Cf. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/21/us-greece-idUSBRE95K0IJ20130621 , http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2013/06/25/nouveau-gouvernement-de-coalition-en-grece-pour-garantir-la-stabilite_3436423_3214.html.

[29] See Eurostat,

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Living_standards_statistics.

[30] Source: Greek Statistics Authority, http://www.statistics.gr/portal/page/portal/ESYE.

[31] Source: Eurostat,

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php?title=File:Unemployment_rate,_2000-2011_(%25).png&filetimestamp=20120502100338.

[32] “Eurostat: 62,5% youth unemployment in Greece”, To Vima, 31 May 2013.

[33] To Vima, 8 December 2011, http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=433980. The research concerns the first five months of 2011 in relation to the first five months of 2010.





II - Changes to the Budgetary Process

Budgetary process   
II.1
Describe the main characteristics of the budgetary process (cycle, actors, instruments, etc.) in Greece.

According to article 72 of the Constitution, the Budget and the Annual Report of the State and Parliament is voted in the Parliament Plenary Session. The details of the budgetary process were until recently defined by statute 2362/1995,[1] which was extendedly amended in August 2010, some months following the conclusion of the first loan agreement to Greece, by statute 3871/2010.[2] The amended statute was focused on budgetary stability and discipline,[3] was much more detailed concerning the content of the budget and the calculation methods of the various capitals,[4] and was characterized by the attribution of extended competences to the Minister of Finance, who became responsible for the economic management of General Government.

The Budget of Central Government and the connected budgets of General Government[5] (hereafter Budget) comprise many documents. First of all, the Annual Budget of Central Government defines the revenues, the expenses and the sources of income for Central Government for each economic year. The Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy defines the budgetary objectives and goals for General Government for the year it refers to and the three following years, it defines the main general policies concerning the annual budget, and it announces the main sources of risks for the financial situation of General Government. The Annual Social Budget defines the revenues, expenses, deficit/surplus of the unified system of social security and for each one of the main funds of social security and the main hospitals. The unified annual budgets of Local Authorities define the budget of each unified domain of local administration. Finally, the unified annual budgets of the remaining sectors of General Government, define the unified budgets of the sectors of General Government which are not covered by the previous documents.[6]

The Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy is drawn up by the General Accounting Office of the State, under the guidance and surveillance of the Minister of Finance. It is submitted for approval to the Ministerial Council before the 15th of April. After its approval, the Minister of Finance submits it to Parliament for voting before the 15th of May. During September, if substantial changes have occurred, the Minister of Finance can submit to Parliament an up-to-date Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy, which is voted by Parliament within 10 days from its submission.[7] The various annual budgets must be in conformity with the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy.[8]

The Annual Budget of Central Government is drawn up by the General Accounting Office of the State, under guidance and surveillance by the Minister of Finance. For its redaction, the method of “top-down budgeting” is employed, which entails the determination of binding maximum limits of expenses per Central Government sector, inside of which the various capitals are allocated.[9] A draft of the Annual Budget is submitted by the Minister of Finance to the competent parliamentary committee on the first Monday of October, before the beginning of the economic year that it concerns.[10] According to the Standing Orders of Parliament,[11] the Permanent Committee of Financial Affairs deliberates on the draft and the proceedings are communicated to the Minister of Finance.[12] The Minister, after taking into consideration the remarks of the Committee, introduces to Parliament the final draft bill of the Annual Budget, at least 40 days before the beginning of the economic year that it concerns.[13] The bill is voted during the normal annual parliamentary session, after a second examination by the permanent committee of Financial Affairs.[14] After its approval by Parliament, the Annual Budget is binding. However, the Minister of Finance can submit a proposal for the amendment of the credits of the Annual Budget of Central Government, with a complementary budget; he/she is obliged to do so in certain cases. The Minister of Finance can approve expenses exceeding the amounts of the credits provided for in the Annual Budget, in order to fulfill obligations of the State according to loan agreements, international conventions, and obligations to the European Union.[15]

The execution of the Annual Budget of Central Government is assured by the General Accounting Office of the State, which manages public property and must cooperate in every general act entailing expenses.[16] Moreover, the execution of the Annual Budget is monitored by the Committee of Review and General Balance of the State and of the Monitoring of the Execution of the Budget of Central Government. This Committee is informed by the Minister of Finance every three months on the execution of the Annual Budget and on the management of public finances. Further, the Minister of Finance submits a monthly report on the revenues and expenditure of the Budget.[17] For the collecting of the necessary information, a special Office has been created by the new statute, the Office of the Budget of Central Government to the Parliament, which compiles and submits trimestral and annual reports on public finances.[18] Until the end of July, the General Accounting Office of the State compiles the Review of the execution of the Annual Budget of Central Government and the Balance-sheet, which represents the clear image of the financial status of Central Government, as well as other financial reports. These documents are based on information given by the competent authorities. They are submitted to the Court of Audit, which must scrutinize their correctness within two months. Then, the Minister of Finance introduces them, together with the decision by the Court of Audit and his/her own comments, to Parliament (the same committee is competent) for approval, before the end of November and, in any case, before the introduction of the new Annual Budget.[19]

The annual budgets of the rest of the institutions of General Government are compiled and executed under the guidance and surveillance of the competent Minister or head officer, who are responsible for their correct execution.[20] The drawing up of these budgets is coordinated by the Minister of Finance and the time-line is defined by the General Accounting Office of the State for each economic year.[21] Their execution is monitored and reviewed by the General Accounting Office of the State and the Minister of Finance, with the cooperation of the Head of Financial Services, which is a new organ, appointed in every institution of General Government for the monitoring of the management of its finances.[22] The General Accounting Office of the State must cooperate in any general act entailing expenses to the annual budgets.[23]

Statute 4111/2013 established fiscal rules and practices for General Government institutions and services. Most importantly, every institution or service must set monthly and trimestral budgetary objectives according to the Annual Budget voted by Parliament.[24]

A summary of the rest of the annual budgets of General Government are annexed to the Annual Budget of Central Government, when submitted for approval to Parliament. Also, they are accompanied by a declaration by the Minister of Finance for their conformity to the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy.[25] Moreover, the Minister of Finance also submits to Parliament the various reports of the competent Directors of taxation services and of the General Accounting Office concerning public revenues and expenses, as well as the report of the General Director of Public Property, which concerns the results of the exploitation of public property. Finally, the Minister of Finance informs Parliament on the total amount of the public debt and on any other subject, in order to render public finances transparent and accessible to the public.[26]

Article 98 of the Constitution attributes an important role to the Court of Audit for the monitoring of the management of public finances. According to the first paragraph of this article,

1. The jurisdiction of the Court of Audit pertains mainly to:


a) The audit of the State’s expenditures, and of local government agencies or other public law legal persons subject to its audit by special laws.

b) The presentation to Parliament of the financial report and balance sheet of the State.

c) Advisory opinions concerning statutes on pensions or on the recognition of service for granting of the right to a pension, in accordance with article 73 paragraph 2, and on all other matters specified by law.

d) The audit of the accounts of accountable officials and of the local government agencies and public law legal persons specified in subparagraph (a).

e) The trial of legal remedies on disputes concerning the granting of pensions and the audit of accounts in general.

f) The trial of cases related to liability of civil or military servants of State and local government agency civil servants for any loss, through malicious intent or negligence, incurred upon the State or upon the above agencies and legal persons.

2. The authority of the Court of Audit shall be regulated and exercised as specified by law.

The provisions of article 93 paragraphs 2 and 3 shall not be applicable in the cases specified in (a) through (d) of the preceding paragraph.

3. The judgments of the Court of Audit in the cases specified in paragraph 1 shall not be subject to the control of the Supreme Administrative Court.[27]

The comments by the Court of Audit on the financial management of the State, included in its annual report, are communicated to the various Ministers. The responses to the comments are communicated to the President of the Court of Audit who communicates them together with the report to the President of the Parliament. All these documents are published to the Official Gazette of the Government.[28]

The above characteristics were subsequently incorporated into a new systematic text on budgetary process, which entered into force with law 4270/2014 on 28th of June 2014.[29]

The public debt is managed by a legal entity in public law (Οργανισμος Διαχειρισης Δημοσιου Χρεους, Public Debt Management Agency).[30]

General change           
II.2
How has the budgetary process changed since the beginning of the financial/Eurozone crisis?

Statute 3871/2010[31] introduced important changes to the budgetary process, a few months after the conclusion of the first loan agreement for Greece. The goal of the statute was “the creation of contemporary budgetary rules and principles for the management of public finances” and “the reestablishment of the credibility of the budget of our country”. The statute aimed at the modernization of the budgetary management with rules, principles, and models according to what exists in other developed countries; the modernization of the budgetary monitoring according to the internationally valid monitoring models; the establishment of the responsibility of all the organs which participate to the management of public finances; the amelioration of the effectiveness and the creation of confidence to the economic management of the country; the harmonization of the budgetary process with the respective process of the Member States of the EU; the consolidation of transparency; the strengthening of the role of Parliament in the monitoring of the budgetary policy of the government and its execution by the ministries; the strengthening of the role of the Minister of Finance with responsibility and surveillance of the budgetary management of General Government.[32]

The statute established many rules and deontological principles (principle of the prudent budgetary management, of responsibility, of impartiality and justice, of sincerity, and of transparency) concerning the content of the Budget. Moreover, it extended the competences of the Minister of Finance to General Government and the competences of the General Accounting Office of the State, as well as of the various competent Ministers. What is more, it appointed a Head of Financial Service in each institution of General Government. Further, it introduced the instrument of the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy, which comprises the goals of the government for the whole General Government for the three years following its redaction. The statute also introduced the top-down method for the compilation of the Annual Budget of Central Government and it changed the time-line of the compilation of the Budget. Concerning statistics and accounting, the Statute put in place a double-entry accounting system.[33] It defined in detail the content of the Budget and the various documents constituting it. Moreover, it introduced the complementary budgets, thus regulating the exceeding of the credits provided for in the Budget. The expenses from the Central Government Budget and the Local Authorities Budget, as well as the other annual budgets, are submitted to scrutiny by the Court of Audit, which also exercises a preventive scrutiny in certain cases. Also, a special office in Parliament was created for the better supervision and monitoring of the execution of the Budget and of the Medium Term Budgetary Frameworks. Finally, the statute established certain rules for the enforcement of budgetary stability.

The application of the statute met obstacles in the beginning. For example, the first scientific committee of the special budget office in Parliament was dismissed after having concluded that the debt was not sustainable.[34]

Further, statute 4111/2013 established fiscal rules and practices for General Government institutions and services. Most importantly, every institution or service must set budgetary objectives according to the Annual Budget voted by Parliament.[35]

Finally, statute 4270/2014 incorporated these changes in a systematic code of budgetary process and added further changes aiming at the harmonization of domestic law to the precepts of the “six-pack”.[36] Namely, it instituted an Independent Fiscal Council; it established the Medium term budgetary objective procedure and an adjustment path procedure, as well as a corrective mechanism in case of important deviation from these objectives; it harmonized the Greek budgetary time-line with the European semester and it established the legal framework for the fiscal surveillance of General Government sub-sectors. Further, the statute clearly defines the institutional framework of the budgetary process and the competences of the various authorities (articles 18 f.). It states the general principles governing the management of General Government finances (principle of reasonable financial management, of responsibility and reason giving, of transparency and of sincerity –article 33). The statute also enounces some principles concerning pluriannual fiscal planning (article 34): it should give priority to the repayment of the debt and to the consolidation of fiscal and economic stability, it should be unitary and concern all General Government sectors, it should be based on medium term forecasts, it should be transparent and subject to scrutiny by independent authorities.[37]

Institutional change        
II.3
What institutional changes are brought about by the changes in the budgetary process, e.g. relating to competences of parliament, government, the judiciary and independent advisory bodies?

Statute 3871/2010[38] of 2010 (see also question II.2) brought about important institutional changes in the budgetary process. These changes were subsequently incorporated into statute 4270/2014, which instituted a wholly new budgetary process.[39]

First of all, it has importantly increased the competences and powers of the Minister of Finance, who now has the power and competence to exercise the general management of public finances of Central Government, as well as the coordination and surveillance of the General Government finances. Among his/her particular competences are the submission of the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy and its eventual up-to-date versions to Parliament; the submission of a draft of the Annual Budget of Central Government, the Annual Report and the Balance of the State to Parliament; the surveillance of the redaction and execution of the annual budgets and of the budgetary reports of the institutions of General Government; the submission of a report concerning the budgetary developments of General Government to Parliament and its publication on the internet; the conclusion of loan agreements as a representative of the Greek State; the surveillance and monitoring of programmes which are financed by the EU or other international organizations.  The Minister of Finance also determines the models, the regulations and the procedures that govern the economic management of the public sector. Together with the co-competent Minister or head officer, he/she is responsible for the correctness and accuracy of the information and the elements included in all the documents of the Budget and in the various reports. Moreover, ministerial decrees by the Minister of Finance define the procedure and the time-line of the redaction of all the Annual Budgets, except from the unified annual budgets of Local Administration. They also define in detail the competent State organs and the procedure for credits, the major categories of expenses in the Budget of Central Government, the categorization of the revenues and expenses for the domains of General Government and any other detail for the redaction of the Budget.

The General Accounting Office of the State has also been attributed extended competences. Among them are the following: the General Accounting Office draws up the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy and its eventual amendments; communicates through circulars to all institutions of General Government the time-line for the redaction of the Budget of the next economic year; compiles the draft of the Annual Budget of Central Government, and proposals for complementary budgets; compiles the Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the State, as well as the rest of the financial reports of Central Administration; manages public property and monitors the execution of the Budget; obligatorily approves the enactment of general acts causing expenses to the expense of the Budget; compiles reports for the execution of the annual budgets of the institutions and services of General Government; exercises review to the financial management of the local authorities and of the legal persons depending on them; monitors the financial management of various legal persons which are financed by the Budget; monitors the management of programs which are financed by the EU or other international organizations; collects the information for the exercise of its competences; enacts directives and circulars concerning the budgetary process and the public financial management.

According to the new budgetary process, the competent Ministers and head officers of the remaining General Government institutions are attributed the following budgetary competences and responsibilities: they manage and execute the budget of their institution according to the legal statute; they compile and present a draft of their annual budget, according to the maximum limits of defined in the Medium Term Budgetary Framework; they execute the annual budget; they supervise and direct the organs under their surveillance for the compilation of the budget in conformity with the Medium Term Budgetary Framework and their correct execution; they manage public property and resources; they work out reports for the execution of the budget of their institution and the institutions under their surveillance; they work out and submit information on the financial situation of these institutions.

Moreover, a new official has been appointed to the financial service of each Minister and each institution of General Government, the Head of Financial Service. He/she is responsible for guaranteeing a prudent budgetary management of the institution where he/she is appointed and of the institutions financed by it. He/she also supervises the procedures concerning the budget and the accounting information, according to the directives of the General Accounting Office of the State. Law 4270/2014 separated the function of Authorizing Officer from that of the Head of Financial Service and made them incompatible. It also attributed more competences to the Head of Financial Service. Both the Authorizing Officer and the Head of the Financial Service of each institution must sign decisions concerning the assuming of obligations by General Government sectors.

Further, since 2010 (Kallikratis plan, concerning the Local Authorities)[40] the budget of the Local Authorities is monitored ex ante by the Court of Audit. The statute of 2010 introduced the ex post review of the execution of the budget of these authorities (for the first and second degree), as well as of their enterprises and organizations.

For the better information of the Parliament, the Office of Budget to the Parliament has been created, which assists the various competent committees in their work, especially through the collection of the necessary information.

Statute 4055/2012 charged the Court of Audit with the scrutiny of the new fiscal governance introduced by the 2010 statute.[41]

Finally, statute 4270/2014 instituted an independent Fiscal Council, thus incorporating Directive 2011/85/EU into the domestic order. Among the Council’s competences are the evaluation of public macroeconomic forecasts and the monitoring of the State’s observance of fiscal rules.[42]

Change of time-line 
II.4
How has the time-line of the budgetary cycle changed as a result of the implementation of Euro-crisis law?

According to the statute 3871/2010, the time-line of the budgetary cycle is divided in calendrical stages accordingly:

1) January-March (1st Stage): the General Governmental Strategy is defined and the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy is compiled.

2) April-May (2nd Stage): The Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy is approved by the Ministerial Council and is approved by the Parliament.

3) June-July (3rd Stage): The budgetary process for Central Government begins, together with the preparation of the budget of the rest of the institutions of General Government.

4) August-October (4th Stage): Negotiations between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministries concerning their budget and timely preparation of the Social Budget.

5) November-December (5th Stage): Submission and voting of the Central Government Budget by Parliament with a parallel publication of the budget of the remaining institutions of General Government (Social Security Funds, Hospitals, Local Authorities).[43]

Before this statute, no budgetary time-line was legally defined.

Statute 4270/2014 incorporated this time-line into the new budgetary process that it instituted and further harmonized domestic law to the “European semester”.[44] Thus, it provided that the Fiscal Council (an independent administrative authority instituted for the first time by the same statute) will publish twice per year, in conformity with the “European Semester” time-line, a report in which it will elaborate its conclusions concerning the macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts, the fiscal objectives and the fiscal results.[45]

Miscellaneous
II.5
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and changes to the budgetary process?

It is important to note that, independently from the legally determined budgetary process, since the first loan agreement on May 2010, a de facto process is taking place, under the directives and surveillance of an international formation, the so-called “troika”. The “troika” is composed by one representative of each one of the country’s creditors, that is, the IMF, the ECB, and the European Commission, representing the Eurozone MS. Any important evolution concerning the planning of the budgetary strategy, the execution of the Budget and the Medium Term Budgetary Framework, and the management of public property and finances, is negotiated with and approved by this sui generis institution, which functions as an independent technocratic council. The report by the “troika” constitutes the basis of the Eurogroup decision for the disbursement of the tranches of the financial assistance to Greece.[46] Even though the Government formed after the 2015 elections refused to negotiate with the “troika”, negotiations are still taking place with the “institutions” (ECB, IMF and Commission) in order to conclude an agreement as to financial assistance to Greece.

Moreover, according to article 4 of statute 4063/2012,[47] the reimbursement of the public debt has priority to any other expenses. Thus, the revenues of the Budget from the EFSF and other determined revenues are deposed into a special account which is created exclusively to this objective.

[1] ΦΕΚ Α’ 247/27.11.1995, concerning the accounting of public finances, the monitoring of the expenses of the State, and other provisions.

[2] ΦΕΚ Α’ 141/17.8.2010, budgetary management and responsibility.

[3] The new articles 1, 1A and 5 Law 2362/1995 define a large number of general principles which govern the budgetary process.

[4] See the Interim Progress Report on the implementation of Council Directive 2011/85/EU on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/occasional_paper/2013/pdf/ocp128_en.pdf.

[5] According to article 1B, General Government comprises the Central Government, first and second degree Local Administration  and the Social Security Organizations of. The Central Government comprises the Central Administration (Presidency, Ministries, Decentralized and Independent Authorities), the legal persons of public law and the legal persons of private law that are monitored and financed by the Central Administration.

[6] Article 6 Law 2362/1995.

[7] Article 6Γ Law 2362/1995.

[8] Article 6Δ Law 2362/1995.

[9] Article 6E Law 2362/1995.

[10] Article 8 par. 1 of the statute. According to article 4, the economic year begins on the 1st of January and finishes on the 31st of December of the same year. It includes the administrative act and the events that are relative to the management of the public accounts and the movement of the public property of the State.

[11] http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/kanonismos-Thematiko-syntagma%202010.pdf.

[12] Article 121 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

[13] Article 8 par. 2 Law 2362/1995.

[14] Article 121 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

[15] Article 8A Law 2362/1995. The Minister of Finance must submit a report within 60 days for these expenses.

[16] Article 3 par. 8 Law 2362/1995.

[17] Article 31A of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

[18] Article 8B Law 2362/1995. Cf. also http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Dioikitiki-Organosi/Ypiresies/Grafeio-Proypologismou-tou-Kratous-sti-Vouli/ and http://www.pbo.gr/.

[19] Articles 72 f.

[20] Article 3.

[21] Articles 2 and 3.

[22] Article 3B.

[23] Article 3 par. 8

[24] Cf. Law 4111/2013, ΦΕΚ 18 Α‘/25.01.2013, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=3cde3e1c-d018-4244-af66-c69249f657f6.

[25] Article 8.

[26] Article 8.

[27] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[28] Article 77 of the legal statute.

[29] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision, public accounting and other provisions.

[30] http://www.pdma.gr/index.php/en/

[31] ΦΕΚ Α’ 141/17.8.2010, budgetary management and responsibility.

[32] See the informative note accompanying the bill, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=22cdbbfe-ed73-4fe5-8f49-d6a1c6f88494. See also the explanatory report to the bill, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=22cdbbfe-ed73-4fe5-8f49-d6a1c6f88494.

[33] See also Presidential Decree 15/2011, ΦΕΚ Α’30/2.3.2011.

[34] Cf. the Interim Report by the Budget Office in Parliament, “The New Economic Governance in the Eurozone and Greece [in Greek]”, January 2014, available at http://www.pbo.gr/Home/TabId/1081/ArtMID/5211/ArticleID/1092/THE-NEW-EUROPEAN-ECONOMIC-GOVERNANCE-IN-THE-EURO-ZONE-AND-GREECE-Surveillance-mechanisms-and-solidarity-after-the%E2%80%9CMemorandum%E2%80%9D.aspx.

[35] Cf. Law 4111/2013, ΦΕΚ 18 Α‘/25.01.2013, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=3cde3e1c-d018-4244-af66-c69249f657f6.

[36] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision, public accounting and other provisions. See the explanatory report to the statute, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/2f026f42-950c-4efc-b950-340c4fb76a24/a-apred-eis-olo.pdf.

[36] On this, cf. questions VII.1 f.

[37] On this, cf. questions VII.1 f.

[38] ΦΕΚ Α’ 141/17.8.2010, budgetary management and responsibility.

[39] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision, public accounting and other provisions.

[40] Statute 3852/2010, ΦΕΚ Α’87/7.6.2010.

[41] See article 80 of the statute 4055/2012, ΦΕΚ Α’ 51/12-3-2012.

[42] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision, public accounting and other provisions.

[43] See the informative note accompanying the bill, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=22cdbbfe-ed73-4fe5-8f49-d6a1c6f88494. See also the explanatory report to the bill, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=22cdbbfe-ed73-4fe5-8f49-d6a1c6f88494.

[44] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision, public accounting and other provisions.

[45] Article 2 paragraphs 4 f.

[46] For more information, see the questions relevant to the financial assistance to Greece (X.1 and following).

[47] ΦΕΚ Α’ 71/30.3.2012. With this legal statute the Parliament ratified the TFEU amendment, the Fiscal Compact and the ESM Treaty.





III - Changes to Constitutional Law

Nature national instruments     
III.1
What is the character of the legal instruments adopted at national level to implement Euro-crisis law (constitutional amendment, organic laws, ordinary legislation, etc)?

Ordinary legislation is usually employed for the implementation of Euro-crisis law.[1] For the voting of the legislative statutes a normal procedure is mobilized, that is, one that does not require a qualified majority. This has sometimes raised objections of unconstitutionality of the parliamentary procedure from the part of the opposition,[2] as well as before the Council of State.[3] The legislation is subsequently applied through administrative acts and circulars.

Generally, statutes implementing or ratifying Euro-crisis law often comprise broad authorizations to the executive, especially the Minister of Finance, to take all the necessary measures for their application.[4] In certain cases, the Minister of Finance is authorized to sign any relevant international agreements for the application and effectiveness of the Euro-crisis legal instruments, which are operative from their signature and are only introduced to Parliament for “discussion and briefing”.[5] This expansion of executive powers was necessary in order to accommodate the “troika” review missions[6] and has provoked strong reactions in the legal, political and academic world. It was used as an argument for the unconstitutionality of the relevant statutes before the Council of State.[7]

In many cases, legislative measures implementing Euro-crisis law and measures concerning the conditions set by the loan agreements have been voted according to an emergency procedure, which entails abbreviation of deadlines for parliamentary debate and voting of the statute under consideration, both in the competent parliamentary committees and in the plenary session.[8] This has been the case, most importantly, of the first and second MoU, which was discussed and voted in one day in the Plenum of the Parliament. Members of the Government, later, admitted that they had not had the time to read the MoU, a subject that caused strong reactions in Parliament and the media.[9] The employment of this procedure has provoked reactions by the deputies of the opposition, and sometimes even of those supporting the Government coalition.[10]

Especially, Governments during the crisis have made an extensive use of a sui generis legal instrument, the so-called “administrative acts of legislative content”. These are executive administrative acts, normally issued under exceptional circumstances, having a content which normally belongs to the competence of the Parliament. These administrative acts are invested with the status of a legal statute, under the condition that they are ratified by Parliament within a certain time period.[11] More precisely, according to article 44 paragraph 1 of the Greek Constitution: “Under extraordinary circumstances of an urgent and unforeseeable need, the President of the Republic may, upon the proposal of the Cabinet, issue acts of legislative content. Such acts shall be submitted to Parliament for ratification, as specified in the provisions of article 72 paragraph 1, within forty days of their issuance or within forty days from the convocation of a parliamentary session. Should such acts not be submitted to Parliament within the above time-limits or if they should not be ratified by Parliament within three months of their submission, they will henceforth cease to be in force.[12] Administrative acts of legislative content are subject to scrutiny following an action for their annulment before the Council of State. However, after their retroactive ratification by Parliament they are immune from direct judicial scrutiny. Greek courts can still declare their provisions unconstitutional, yet their decisions lack an abrogative effect. What is more, unconstitutionality can only concern the content of these acts, since the fulfillment of procedural conditions is immune from judicial scrutiny, belonging to the interna corporis of Parliament.

The Government has used this instrument in order to approve certain financial assistance instruments and to provide authorization to the executive authorities to sign the relevant agreements.[13] The extended use of this exceptional instrument has sometimes caused the reaction of the parties of the opposition, and even of the Government coalition, as well as of legal scholarship and public opinion in general, who often stress the degradation of the role and functioning of the Parliament as a consequence of the financial crisis.[14] The public television and radio were closed after the issuing of such an act, which led the left party of the Government coalition (DIM.AR., Democratic Left) to stop supporting the Government in June 2013. [15]

Constitutional amendment   
III.2   
Have there been any constitutional amendments in response to the Euro-crisis or related to Euro-crisis law? Or have any amendments been proposed?

No constitutional amendment in response to the Euro-crisis law has been adopted. The need for a constitutional amendment in order to implement the balanced budget rule of the Fiscal Compact is stressed out by some legal scholars, who consider the statute implementing the Fiscal Compact insufficient and incompatible with the exigencies of the treaty.[16]

Nevertheless, especially since Spring  2012, there is a public debate on the need of a constitutional amendment. In their electoral campaigns for the elections of May 2012, the two main political parties of the bipartisan, until then, political system included propositions for an extended amendment of many parts of the Constitution, or even the creation of a new Constitution from the beginning, in order to respond to the new needs of the Greek State, which were mainly a result of the financial crisis. The Constitution of 1975 was considered outdated and related to the deficiencies of the political process and of the institutional functioning of the Greek State by the main political parties. However, after the two consecutive elections in 2012 and the important shock that they bore in the political world, the debate has changed focus. The question is whether the need for a constitutional amendment still persists or if the de facto changes in the functioning of the Constitution make this amendment unnecessary. Except from the debate on the inclusion of the Balanced Budget Rule in the Constitution, which mainly takes place in the academic world, changes proposed concern institutional and fiscal matters that would eliminate corruption phenomena and instability of the taxation system, the separation of powers (increase of powers of the President, restriction of the power of the Prime Minister, independence of the judiciary, establishment of a constitutional court), and the form and functioning of the parliamentary system itself (reduction of the number of parliamentarians, popular legislative initiative, changes in the functioning of political parties, transparency of the financial situation of parties, revision of the immunity of Members of the Government from criminal responsibility).[17] The debate is taking place in public fora for the moment and no official proposal has been submitted to Parliament.

Article 110 of the Constitution sets a rigid procedure of revision of the Constitution:

1. The provisions of the Constitution shall be subject to revision with the exception of those which determine the form of government as a Parliamentary Republic and those of articles 2 paragraph 1, 4 paragraphs 1, 4 and 7 , 5 paragraphs 1 and 3, 13 paragraph 1, and 26.

2. The need for revision of the Constitution shall be ascertained by a resolution of Parliament adopted, on the proposal of not less than fifty Members of Parliament, by a three-fifths majority of the total number of its members in two ballots, held at least one month apart. This resolution shall define specifically the provisions to be revised.        
3. Upon a resolution by Parliament on the revision of the Constitution, the next Parliament shall, in the course of its opening session, decide on the provisions to be revised by an absolute majority of the total number of its members.

4. Should a proposal for revision of the Constitution receive the majority of the votes of the total number of members but not the three-fifths majority specified in paragraph 2, the next Parliament may, in its opening session, decide on the provisions to be revised by a three-fifths majority of the total number of its members.
5. Every duly voted revision of provisions of the Constitution shall be published in the Government Gazette within ten days of its adoption by Parliament and shall come into force through a special parliamentary resolution.

6. Revision of the Constitution is not permitted before the lapse of five years from the completion of a previous revision.[18]

Nevertheless, because of the profundity of the constitutional changes proposed, certain political actors have adopted the narrative of the creation of a new Constitution through the exercise of “constituent power”, which would entail the dispensation from the procedural and substantial requirements of article 110.[19]

Constitutional context
III.3
If national constitutional law already contained relevant elements, such as a balanced budget rule or independent budgetary councils, before the crisis that are now part of Euro-crisis law, what is the background of these rules?

National constitutional law did not contain a balanced budget rule before the Euro-zone crisis. Neither did national constitutional law already contain an independent budgetary council. The drafting of the national budget was a competence of the General Accounting Office of the State, a public service coming under the Ministry of Finance.[20]

Purpose constitutional amendment 
III.4
What is the purpose of the constitutional amendment and what is its position in the constitution?

No formal proposal of constitutional amendment is yet submitted to Parliament. Nevertheless, especially since spring of 2012, there is a public debate on the need of a constitutional amendment. In their electoral campaigns for the elections of May 2012, the two main political parties of the bipartisan, until then, political system included propositions for an extended amendment of many parts of the Constitution, or even the creation of a new Constitution from the beginning, in order to respond to the new needs of the Greek State, which were mainly a result of the financial crisis. The Constitution of 1975 was considered outdated and related to the deficiencies of the political process and of the institutional functioning of the Greek State by the main political parties. However, after the two consecutive elections in 2012 and the important shock that they bore in the political world, the debate has changed focus. The question is whether the need for a constitutional amendment still persists or if the de facto changes in the functioning of the Constitution make this amendment unnecessary. Except from the debate on the inclusion of the Balanced Budget Rule in the Constitution, which mainly takes place in the academic world, changes proposed concern institutional and fiscal matters that would eliminate corruption phenomena and instability of the taxation system, the separation of powers (increase of powers of the President, restriction of the power of the Prime Minister, independence of the judiciary, establishment of a constitutional court), and the form and functioning of the parliamentary system itself (reduction of the number of parliamentarians, popular legislative initiative, changes in the functioning of political parties, transparency of the financial situation of parties, revision of the immunity of Members of the Government from criminal responsibility).  The debate is taking place in public fora for the moment. Because of the profundity of the constitutional changes proposed, certain political actors have adopted the narrative of the creation of a new Constitution through the exercise of “constituent power”, which would entail, among others, the dispensation from the procedural and substantial requirements of article 110.[21]

Relationship with EU law        
III.5
Is the constitutional amendment seen as changing the relationship between national and European constitutional law?

Not applicable. The discussions on an eventual constitutional amendment are for the moment very vague and general and do not take place in Parliament but rather in the media and the public fora.

Organic law      
III.6
Have there been changes to organic laws or other types of legislation that are of a different nature or level than ordinary legislation, in relation to Euro-crisis law or the budgetary process?

After their implementation, Euro-crisis legal instruments have a different status than ordinary legislation. Article 28 of the Constitution states:

1. The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.   
2. Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement.

3. Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.”[22]

Thus, the debate on the place of these legal statutes in the normative hierarchy of the Greek legal order is closely connected to the question of their function, that is whether they are ratifying supra-national law or not.[23] Especially concerning the relationship of these statutes to the Constitution, scholars accept the possibility of “tacit” constitutional amendment through the application of article 28, when European treaties are amended. However, according to the majority of scholars, in order for this to happen, the special procedure and the substantial conditions set by paragraphs 2 and 3 of this article must be respected.[24] In the case of the implementation of Euro-crisis law, this procedure has never been applied. In any case, there is no constitutional court in Greece with the competence to monitor the procedure of constitutional amendments.

Constitutional amendment and ordinary law       
III.7
If ordinary legislation was adopted in conjunction with a constitutional amendment, what is the relationship between the two?

Not applicable.

Perception source of legal change   
III.8
In the public and political discussions on the adoption of ordinary legislation, what was the perception on the appropriate legal framework? Was the ordinary legislation seen as implementing national constitutional law, or Euro-crisis law?

Article 28 of the Constitution sets substantial and procedural conditions for legal statutes implementing supra-national agreements that attribute constitutional competences to supra-national institutions and restrict the exercise of national sovereignty.[25] Thus, the appropriate legal framework for the implementation of Euro-crisis legal instruments depends on 1) their character of international/supra-national legally binding agreements, 2) if they attribute constitutional competences to supra-national institutions, or 3) if they restrict the exercise of national sovereignty. Further under the procedural and substantial conditions of this article, scholarship has accepted the possibility of “tacit” constitutional amendment.[26] This would be the case, for example, if the agreements implemented were changing the repartition of constitutional competences.

Most of the Euro-crisis legal instruments have been perceived as part of European law in public debates, and this, despite their intergovernmental character in some cases.[27]

However, the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for the loan agreements have been argued to constitute the political programme of the Government, albeit in the form “staff-level” agreements. Thus, they have not been ratified, nor have the Loan Agreements themselves.[28]  Moreover, virtually all statutes containing austerity measures have been perceived as implementing exigencies of the creditors, either they are formally mentioned in a Euro-crisis legal instrument, or they are required by the “troika”, as a precondition for the disbursement of the tranches of the loan.[29] Yet, by virtue of subsequent Council Decisions in the context of the excessive deficit procedure, which reiterate the measures of MoU, the latter also acquire European “garb”. The European nature of the financial assistance instruments has been stressed by many academics. However, the Council of State explicitly negated the formal connection of the MoU to EU law in its decision 1285/2012.[30]

Subsequently, in decision 1507/2014,[31] the Council of State refused to introduce a preliminary reference to the ECJ concerning the PSI procedure. The majority of the judges found that, even though the statute determining the PSI conditions was drafted after deliberations between the Greek authorities and EU institutions, the latter had only a consulting function in the “political or technocratic” decisions on the PSI. The relevant statute and the implementing measures were thus sovereignly decided by the constitutionally competent Greek authorities and no application of EU law was at issue. Relevant statements by the Eurogroup or the Euro-area MS’ Heads of State and Government only had a political character (point 19).

In the same paragraph, the Council of State clarified that the EFSF is not an EU institutional authority but a legal entity under private law, constituted by the Eurozone MS for providing financial assistance to the countries that need it and for ensuring financial stability in the Eurozone (point 19).

There has been a heated political debate, inside and outside Parliament, on the appropriate legal framework for the implementation of Euro-crisis law. The public debate in the media has been mainly concentrated on the implementation of the MoU setting the conditions, usually austerity plans, for providing financial assistance to Greece. Political actors from the opposition and public actors,[32] trade unions,[33] bar associations,[34] academics,[35] journalists, NGOs, artists,[36] and even the Scientific Service of the Parliament[37] have objected that statutes voted in application of Euro-crisis law were formally and substantially violating the Greek Constitution. Especially in the relevant parliamentary debates, the opposition constantly repeated that a special procedure for the voting of the relevant legal statutes or a constitutional amendment was needed.[38] What is more, many public and political actors have objected to the adoption of this legislation through emergency procedures, and through the sui generis legal instrument of the “acts of legislative content”. Also, they have accused the Government of deliberately following opaque nondemocratic procedures.[39]

Many statutes and administrative acts implementing Euro-crisis law, and especially the MoU, have been brought before the Supreme Administrative Court (the Council of State) and other courts, in the context of the diffused constitutionality review. Also, many of the relevant legal statutes have been attacked before international institutions, such as the ECHR, the European Committee of Social Rights and the International Labor Organization.[40] The various recourses have been introduced by trade unions, judges, University professors, bar associations, and private persons.[41] However, despite the almost commonsensical character of the unconstitutionality of at least some of the statutes implementing Euro-crisis law, and the encouraging decisions of certain international institutions,[42] in Greece there is no strong and independent constitutional court that could annul these acts.[43] Nevertheless, some court decisions sanction the unconstitutionality, formal or substantial, of certain specific provisions mainly concerning taxes, collective and individual labor rights, and social security.[44]

Often, when facing legal-procedural arguments of the opposition, the Government has invoked the political and moral responsibility to save the economy of the country, which does not allow for formalism.[45] 

When not using moral-political argumentation, people supporting the Government and the austerity policies required by the Eurozone partners, the EU and the IMF, have repeatedly answered that the statutes related to Euro-crisis law are also implementing, and not violating, national constitutional law. More precisely, the main legal argument has been that article 28 of the Constitution provides for European integration. Moreover, the loan agreements, austerity policies, and budgetary discipline are necessary for the reform of the Public Administration, for the efficacious functioning of the State, for the fight against corruption, clientelism, and tax evasion, and for the fulfillment of the country’s budgetary needs, so that it can regain its sovereignty, which is lost because of the debt crisis. Thus, the defenders of the Government policies have underlined that the implementation of Euro-crisis law does not restrict the exercise of national sovereignty and does not entail the concession of any constitutional competences to institutions of supra-national organizations.[46] Besides, in the public debate, which is characterized by a constant prediction of impeding calamities, it has usually been argued that there is no alternative to the implementation of these measures, if one wants the State and the economy to function. Indeed the non-implementation is presented as a synonym to the exit of the country from the Euro and its bankruptcy which will burden the citizens.[47]

Decision no. 668/2012, 20 February 2012, of the Greek Council of State, concerning the legal statute implementing the first MoU, is characteristic of this argumentation.[48] Indeed, the Council of State argued that, even though it is a result of negotiations and agreement between Greece and certain international authorities, the Memorandum does not constitute an international treaty which is legally binding the Greek Government, but only the governmental program for the confrontation of the economic problems of the country, a compelling public interest and a common interest of Greece’s Eurozone partners. Therefore, as a political program, the Memorandum does not result in the transfer of competences to international authorities, it does not create legal norms and it does not possess a direct effect in the domestic legal order, given that, for its application, the constitutionally competent organs have to enact some implementing measures. Thus, no special procedure or constitutional amendment was needed for its enactment.[49]

However, generally the need for a constitutional amendment in order to accommodate the changes brought about by the Euro-crisis has been affirmed by all parties of the political world.[50] Especially since the spring of 2012, there has been a public debate on the need for such an amendment. In their electoral campaigns in May 2012, the two main political parties of the bipartisan, until then, political system included propositions for an extended amendment of many parts of the Constitution, or even the creation of a new Constitution from the beginning, in order to respond to the new needs of the Greek State, which were mainly a result of the financial crisis.[51] The Constitution of 1975 was considered outdated and related to the deficiencies of the political process and of the institutional functioning of the Greek State by the main political parties. Because of the profundity of the constitutional changes proposed, certain political actors have adopted the narrative of the creation of a new Constitution through the exercise of “constituent power”, which would entail the dispensation from the procedural and substantial requirements of article 110.[52]

After the two consecutive elections in 2012 and the important shock that they bore in the political world, the debate has changed focus. The question is whether the need for a constitutional amendment still persists or if the de facto changes in the functioning of the Constitution make this amendment unnecessary. Except from the debate on the inclusion of the Balanced Budget Rule in the Constitution, which mainly takes place in the academic world,[53] changes proposed concern institutional and fiscal matters that would eliminate corruption phenomena and instability of the taxation system, the separation of powers (increase of powers of the President, restriction of the power of the Prime Minister, independence of the judiciary, establishment of a constitutional court), and the form and functioning of the parliamentary system itself (reduction of the number of parliamentarians, popular legislative initiative, changes in the functioning of political parties, transparency of the financial situation of parties, revision of the immunity of Members of the Government from criminal responsibility).[54] The debate is taking place in public fora for the moment and no official proposal has been submitted to Parliament.[55]

Miscellaneous
III.9
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and to changes to national (constitutional) law?

Even though the Constitution has not been formally amended, one can easily observe the dramatic change of the way the Constitution is applied since the burst of the Euro-zone crisis. In an academic article, Giannis Drosos argues that the first Memorandum constitutes a “turning point” of the Greek political regime, because it imposes the exercise of some of the most important political powers in cooperation with organs that have an international nature, like the “troika”.[56] Also, Lina Papadopoulou refers to the “normative power of the facts themselves” that overrules the formal Constitution.[57] Kostas Giannakopoulos argues that the Memorandum has completely substituted the [constitutionally] imposed balancing of constitutional rules and principles” and has fixed the interpretation of the flexible domestic economic constitution as pursuing the EU economic policy.[58] It is true that the interpretation of constitutional rules and rights has importantly changed during the last years, and, in the context of austerity policies implemented by Governments, it has legitimized restrictions in constitutional rights and practices of the executive that would be unthinkable some years earlier.[59] What is more, the upheaval of the political correlations after the elections of 2012, as well as the configuration of the coalition government between left and right pro-European parties, have importantly changed the functioning of Government and has led Antonis Manitakis to speak about the “collapse” of the post-junta political-institutional regime.[60] These substantial changes, without a formal corroboration, are in deep contrast with the superficial constitutional amendments which have been the practice of past Governments.[61]

[1] Cf. for example Legal Statute 3845/2010, ΦΕΚ Α 65/6.5.2010 (1st bailout agreement), Legal Statute 3985/2011, ΦΕΚ Α 151/1.7.2011 (Medium term budgetary framework 2012-2015), Legal Statute 4021/2011, ΦΕΚ Α 218/3.10.2011 (EFSF Treaty), Legal Statute 4024/2011, ΦΕΚ 226 Α/27.10.2011 (austerity measures for the application of the Medium term budgetary framework), Legal Statute 4046/2012 (2nd bail out agreement), Legal Statute 4063/2012, ΦΕΚ Α 71/30.3.2012 (136 TFEU amendment, ESM, and Fiscal Compact), Legal Statute 4093/2012, ΦΕΚ Α 222/12.11.2012 (Medium term budgetary framework 2013-2016).

[2] Cf. for example the section concerning the financial assistance instruments (section X) and the question concerning the approval of the 136 TFEU amendment (question V.2), the ESM Treaty (question VIII.2), and the Fiscal Compact (Legal Statute 4063/2012) (question IX.2).

[3] See the decision 668/2012, 20 February 2012, of the Greek Council of State, on the procedure of ratification of the first bailout agreement, in the official site of the Bar Association of Athens, www.dsanet.gr/Epikairothta/Nomologia/668.htm. See also the relevant question in the section “Member States receiving financial assistance” (question X.8).

[4] See for example article 2 of the statute 3845/2010.

[5] See for example article 1 paragraph 4 of the statute 3845/2010, as amended by the statute 3847/2010. See also article 93 of the statute 3862/2010. Cf. the section concerning the financial assistance instruments and the EFSF/M.

[6] Cf. question X.7.

[7] See questions IV.2 and IV.6 concerning the EFSF agreement, as well as the questions concerning financial assistance to Greece (question X.1 and following).

[8] Article 76 paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Constitution: “4. A Bill designated as very urgent by the Government shall be introduced for voting after a limited debate among the rapporteurs involved, the Prime Minister or the competent Minister, the leaders of parties represented in Parliament and one spokesman for each party. The duration of speeches and the time for the debate may be limited by the Standing Orders. 5. The Government may request that a Bill of particular importance or of an urgent nature be debated in a specific number of sittings, not to exceed three. Parliament may prolong the debate through two additional sittings on the proposal of one-tenth of the total number of Members of Parliament. The duration of each speech shall be specified by the Standing Orders.” Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[9] See questions X.1 and following, especially question X.5.

[10] The first and the second Memoranda (Legal Statutes 3825/2010 and 4046/2012) have been voted under this procedure, on the 6th of May 2010 and on the 12th of February 2012 respectively. See the Minutes of the Greek Parliament on the 6th of May 2010, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20100506_1.pdf and on the 12th of February 2012, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20120212.pdf, where the reactions of the opposition. Also, the Medium term budgetary framework 2013-2016 (Legal Statute 4093/2012) has been voted following this procedure. See the parliamentary debates on the 7th of November 2012, where the reactions of the opposition, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20121107.pdf . For example, the Government tried to insert certain measures concerning over-debited citizens to the Parliament according to the emergency procedure, but finally followed the normal procedure, after reactions of the opposition and of the parties of the Government coalition. See “The Government yielded concerning the urgent character of the Government bill on the loans” [in Greek], http://tvxs.gr/news/%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%AC%CE%B4%CE%B1/%CE%BF%CE%BC%CE%B1%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%BA%CF%8C-%C2%AB%CF%8C%CF%87%CE%B9%C2%BB-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF-%C2%AB%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%80%CE%B5%CE%AF%CE%B3%CE%BF%CE%BD%C2%BB-%CF%84%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%BD%CF%83-%CE%B3%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CF%84%CE%B1-%CE%B4%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%B1.

[11] Cf. for example legal statutes 4047/2012, ΦΕΚ 31 Α/23.2.2012, and 4147/2013, ΦΕΚ 98 Α/26.04.2013. It is interesting to note that the public television and radio has been shut down after an act of legislative content, extending the legislative authorization to the administration on the matter.  Cf. ΠΝΠ ΦΕΚ Α’ 139/11.6.2013, available at http://www.dsanet.gr/Epikairothta/Nomothesia/pnp11_6.htm. This act was the legal basis of the Decision 02/11.6.2013, “Suppression of the public enterprise Greek Radio – Television, A.E. (ERT-A.E.)”, ΦΕΚ B 1414/11.6.2013 issued the same day. This measure was presented by the Government as satisfying the exigency of the “troika” for the reducing the number of public employees. However, the Commission denied that they demanded the closure of the public radio and television organization. The act of legislative content was never ratified by Parliament and thus is not valid anymore.  However, this has not any de facto consequences.

[12] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[13] Cf. the question on the implementation of the financial assistance instruments (section X).

[14] See, for example, the article “They bring emergency bill following pressures by the creditors” [in Greek], Eleftherotypia, 12 January 2013, http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=335156. See the reaction of political leaders to the closure of ERT, “Virulent reactions of the parties to the closure of ERT” [in Greek], Ta Nea, 11 June 2013, http://www.tanea.gr/news/politics/article/5023292/sfodres-antidraseis-twn-kommatwn-gia-to-loyketo-sthn-ert/. See also the reaction of the unions of Administrative Judges and of the Court of Audit for the closure of ERT, “The rule of law is not established through acts of legislative content” [in Greek], Eleftherotypia, 14 June 2013, http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=369551.

[15] Cf.  Act  OJ  Α’  139/11.6.2013,  available  at http://www.dsanet.gr/Epikairothta/Nomothesia/

pnp11_6.htm. This act was the legal basis of the Decision 02/11.6.2013, “Suppression of the public

enterprise Greek Radio – Television, A.E. (ERT-A.E.)”, OJ B’ 1414/11.6.2013, issued the next day. Cf. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/21/us-greece-idUSBRE95K0IJ20130621, http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2013/06/25/nouveau-gouvernement-de-coalition-en-grece-pour-garantir-la-stabilite_3436423_3214.html .

[16] See the question concerning the implementation of the balanced budget rule in the section “Fiscal Compact” (question IX.4).

[17] Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, “The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Greek Constitution”, in Xenophon Contiades (ed.), Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis (Ashgate 2013),  chapter 7, 195.

[18] The last Constitutional revision took place in 2008, 8th Revisionary Parliament, Resolution of the 27th of May 2008, ΦΕΚ Α 102/2.6.2008. Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[19] Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, op.cit.

[20] Cf. the relevant question II.1 in the section “Changes to the budgetary process”.

[21] Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, “The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Greek Constitution”, in Xenophon Contiades (ed.), Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis (Ashgate 2013),  chapter 7, 195.

[22] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[23] For this question, see question III.8.

[24] On this matter, see question IX.4.

[25] See question III.6.

[26] See question IX.4.

[27] For example, the Fiscal Compact is perceived as a part of European law in the relevant parliamentary debates, and even by academics. Cf. the debates on the 28th of March 2012, during the ratification of the Fiscal Compact, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030. See also the newspaper article by Petros Stagkos, Professor of European Law in the University of Thessaloniki, “Constitution and “golden rule”” [in Greek], Ta Nea, 19 February 2013, http://www.tanea.gr/opinions/all-opinions/article/5001990/syntagma-kai-xrysos-kanonas/.

[28] Though the Government approves and delegates their signature by the Minister of Finance and other executive authorities through administrative acts of legislative content, which subsequently introduces to Parliament for ratification. On this constitutional “acrobatic”, see the question X.3 on the status of the financial assistance instruments.

[29] Usually, before the implementation of austerity measures, there is a “thriller” in the media concerning the negotiations between the Government and the “troika”, who always has very strict requirements. Concerning the negotiations between the new Minister of Administrative Reform, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the “troika” on the mobility scheme for public sector workers, “Troika deal within reach as talks on public sector reforms get under way”, ekathimerini.com,  3 July 2012, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_03/07/2013_507327 ; “Greece, troika agree to public sector worker dismissal reserve”, ekathimerini.com, 9 July 2013, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_09/07/2013_508286.

[30] Cf. the relevant question X.3 on the status of the financial assistance instruments.

[31] Plenum decision, 28 April 2014. Cf. question X.9.

[32] Cf. “Al. Tsipras: Memorandum or SYRIZA”[in Greek], To Vima, 10 July 2013, http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=521748; Notis Marias, “Referendum for the Amendment of the Lisbon Treaty” [in Greek], Epikaira, 24 March 2011, http://www.epikaira.gr/epikairo.php?id=15885

[33] See for example the press release of GSEE (General Confederation of Greek Workers), http://www.gsee.gr/news/news_view.php?id=1757&year=&month=&key=%EC%ED%E7%EC%FC%ED%E9%EF&page=0&limit=10, on the 16th of February 2012, concerning the MoU II. See also the site of ADEDY (Confederation of Civil Servants’ Unions), www.adedy.gr.

[34] The Athens Bar Association has organized many conferences on the constitutional questions raised by the MoU. For example, the conference on the 15th of June 2010, “Memorandum, Constitution, European Treaty, and ECHR”. The Volos Bar Association is also active in the public debate. See for example, “The Memorandum has been voted through an unconstitutional procedure” [in Greek], Eleftherotypia, 12 August 2010, http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=192485.

[35] On the academic –which is also political, given the politicization of the constitutional doctrine in Greece- debate concerning the first MoU, see Kostas Botopoulos, “Common sense and gaps in the ‘Memorandum Decision” [in Greek], op. cit. and the bibliography cited. In this debate, many important constitutionalists have defended the unconstitutionality of the MoU. See also Giorgos Katrougkalos, “The ‘Paraconstitution’ of the Memorandum and the Other Way” [in Greek], Nomiko Vima, February 2011. See also George Katrougalos, The Greek Austerity Measures: Violations of Socio-Economic Rights, Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, January 29, 2013, available at: http://www.iconnectblog.com/2013/01/the-greek-austerity-measures-violations-of-socio-economic-rights. Concerning the second MoU, voted in February 2012, five important constitutionalists made a common statement on its unconstitutionality. See “The Memorandum is unconstitutional” [in Greek], news247, 12 February 2012, http://news247.gr/eidiseis/oikonomia/antisyntagmatiko_to_mnhmonio.1638556.html.

[36] “Personalities from the Left against the Memorandum”, To Vima, 7 July 2010, http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=341868. Concerning the third MoU, voted in November 2012, see the opinion of Kostas Chrysogonos, Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Thessaloniki, after the question of Alexis Tsipras, President of SY.RIZ.A. in “Chrysogonos: Why the Memorandum III is unconstitutional” [in Greek], news247, 8 November 2012, http://news247.gr/eidiseis/koinonia/xrysogonos_giati_einai_antisyntagmatiko_to_mnhmonio_iii.2001637.html.

[37] “Scientific Service of the Parliament: the Memorandum is Unconstitutional” [in Greek], I Avgi, 13 February 2012, http://archive.avgi.gr/ArticleActionshow.action?articleID=669174.

[38] See the questions concerning the ratification procedure of the various legal instruments.

[39] See question III.1.

[40] See the relevant questions, especially concerning financial assistance to Greece.

[41] Concerning the first MoU, “Deliberation in the Council of State concerning the recourses against the Memorandum” [in Greek], “http://www.constitutionalism.gr/site/1774-syzitisi-sto-ste-twn-prosfygwn-kata-toy-mnimonioy/, “The Memorandum faces the Constitution” [in Greek], http://www.newstime.gr/?i=nt.el.article&id=50074. Concerning the second MoU, “The Memorandum 2 sticks to the Council of State” [in Greek], Eleftherotypia, 3 April 2013, http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=354820. Concerning the third MoU, “The judges make recourse to the Council of State against the Memorandum” [in Greek], I Kathimerini, 7 July 2013, http://www.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_kathremote_1_13/01/2013_478242; “University professors make recourse to the Council of State against the Memorandum”, in.gr, 10 July 2012, http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1231256894.

[42] See the report of the High Level Mission of the ILO for Greece, http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_norm/@normes/documents/missionreport/wcms_170433.pdf, and the speech of the Director General of the ILO, http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/who-we-are/ilo-director-general/statements-and-speeches/WCMS_216803/lang–en/index.htm

[43] See Xenophon Contiades, “The return of judges” [in Greek], Ethnos, 17 July 2012, http://www.contiades.gr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1026.

[44] See question X.9.

[45] See the questions concerning the financial assistance instruments (questions X.1 and following).

[46] See the parliamentary debates cited in the questions concerning the implementation of the specific Euro-crisis law instruments.

[47] Tryfon Koutalidis, “Unconceivable consequences if the Memorandum is declared unconstitutional” [in Greek], Forum, May 2011. See also the interview of the Associate Minister of Finance, Pantelis Oikonomou, to the journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou, http://www.minfin.gr/portal/el/resource/contentObject/id/6ad8a79e-6576-47f1-9628-9e5bcd2f1ce4.

[48] www.dsanet.gr/Epikairothta/Nomologia/668.htm.

[49] Point 28 of the decision.

[50] Chrysogonos argues that such an amendment would not be possible because of the eternity clause of the Greek Constitution (art. 110) imposing the eternity of the most fundamental constitutional provisions. See Kostas Chrysogonos, «Η χαμένη τιμή της Ελληνικής Δημοκρατίας. Ο μηχανισμός «στήριξης της ελληνικής οικονομίας» από την οπτική της εθνικής κυριαρχίας και της δημοκρατικής αρχής [The lost honour of the Hellenic Republic. The “rescue” mechanism of the Greek economy from the point of view of national sovereignty and of the principle of democracy]»,  ΝοΒ 58 [2010] p. 1356

[51] Cf. for PA.SO.K. http://archive.pasok.gr/portal/resource/contentObject/id/81e35a51-16d6-4e6ebb0f-5acc818085e5 . For N.D. see “The 31 proposals by ND for the Constitutional Amendment” [in Greek], real.gr, 29 July 2011, http://www.real.gr/DefaultArthro.aspx?page=arthro&id=83283&catID=1

[52] Cf. the propositions of PA.SO.K. in June 2012 for a “New Form of Polity” http://archive.pasok.gr/portal/resource/contentObject/id/81e35a51-16d6-4e6e-bb0f-5acc818085e5

[53] See question IX.4.

[54] Xenophon Contiades and Ioannis Tassopoulos, “The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Greek Constitution”, in Xenophon Contiades (ed.), Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis (Ashgate 2013),  chapter 7, 195.

[55]See the proposition of N.D. in the stage of public deliberation on the internet http://www.nd.gr/web/oi_protaseis_mas_gia_ti_suntagmatiki_anatheorisi__gia_na_anoiksei_o_dromos_gia_ti_nea_metapoliteusi See also, “Proposition by Stylianidis for radical constitutional amendment” [in Greek], To Vima, 10 April 2013, http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=507157 . See also for the propositions by SY.RIZ.A., “The propositions of the Opposition for the political system-constitutional amendment”, I Avgi, 29 June 2013, http://www.avgi.gr/article/539667/oi-protaseis-tis-axiomatikis-antipoliteusis-gia-to-politiko-sustima-suntagmatiki-anatheorisi .

[56] Giannis Drosos, «ΤοΜνημόνιοως σημείο στροφής του πολιτεύματος [The ‘Memorandum’ as a turning point of the regime]», www.constitutionalism.gr, published in The Book’s Journal, Vol. 6, April 2011, 42.

[57] Lina Papadopoulou, “Can Constitutional Rules, Even if ‘Golden’, Tame Greek Public Debt?”, in Maurice Adams, Federico Fabbrini and Pierre Larouche (eds), The Constitutionalization of European Budgetary Constraints, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2014, 223, 239.

[58] Kostas Giannakopoulos, «Μεταξύ εθνικής και ενωσιακής έννομης τάξης: το «Μνημόνιο» ως αναπαραγωγή της κρίσης του κράτους δικαίου [Between National and EU Legal Order : theMemorandumas a Reproduction of the Rule of Law Crisis]», www.constitutionalism.gr, p. 5: «Η αναφορά –έστω και έμμεση- των κυβερνώντων στην εφαρμογή του ασαφούς, από άποψη κανονιστικής ισχύος, Μνημονίου της 3ης Μαΐου 2010, έφτασε να υποκαταστήση πλήρως την επιβαλλόμενη στάθμιση συνταγματικών κανόνων και αρχών.»,

[59] The example of the suppression of the public service of radio and television through an administrative act is a typical example of this case. For the interpretation of the scope and protection constitutional rights before the crisis see, among others, Prodromos Dagtoglou, Individual Rights, 2 vols., 2nd ed., (Athens-Komotini: Ant. N. Sakkoulas 2005) [in Greek], Kostas Chrysogonos, Individual and Social Rights, 2nd ed., (Athens-Komotini: Ant. N. Sakkoulas 2002) [in Greek]. For the extended powers of the executive as a result of the economic crisis, see Lina Papadopoulou, op.cit., section “Executive Unbound?”, 236 f.

[60] Antonis Manitakis, «Η κατάρρευση του μεταπολιτευτικού πολιτικού συστήματος [The collapse of the Metapolitefsi political regime]», www.constitutionalism.gr

[61] The Greek Constitution has been amended in 2001 and in 2008: 7th Revisionary Parliament, Resolution of the 6th of April 2001 (ΦΕΚ 84 Α/17.4.2001), 8th Revisionary Parliament, Resolution of the 27th May 2008 (ΦΕΚ 102 A/2.6.2008).





IV - Early Emergency Funding

Prior to 2010, loan assistance to States was made primarily via bilateral agreements (to Latvia, Hungary, Romania, 1st round of Greek loan assistance).   
The European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) are two temporary emergency funds, both resulting from the turbulent political weekend of 7-9 May 2010. On May 9, a Decision of the Representatives of the Governments of the Euro Area Member States was adopted expressing agreement on both funds.         
The EFSM is based on a ‘Council regulation establishing a European financial stabilisation mechanism’ of May 11, 2010 adopted on the basis of article 122(2) TFEU and therefore binding on all 27 member states of the EU.       
(
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:118:0001:0001:EN:PDF)
The EFSF is a special purpose vehicle created under Luxembourgish private law by the 17 member states of the Eurozone. The EFSF Framework Agreement was signed on June 7, 2010. On June 24, 2011, the Heads of State or Government of the Eurozone agreed to increase the EFSF’s scope of activity and increase its guarantee commitments.
(
http://www.efsf.europa.eu/attachments/20111019_efsf_framework_agreement_en.pdf and http://www.efsf.europa.eu/attachments/faq_en.pdf

Negotiation
IV.1    
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the negotiation of the EFSF and the EFSM, in particular in relation to (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law, socio-economic fundamental rights, and the budgetary process?

When the Greek debt crisis burst in 2010, the initial main problem was that there was no existing mechanism in place to provide financial assistance to indebted countries. Therefore, the 1st Greek bailout programme consisted of bilateral loans from Euro area member states amounting to 80bn euros and a 30bn euros loan from the IMF. In the meantime, however, the EFSM was set up through Regulation 407/2010 of the 11th of May 2010 under the procedure of Article 122§2 TFEU, whereas the EFSF was created by the euro area Member States following the decisions taken on 9 May 2010 within the framework of the Ecofin Council.[1] The EFSF provided financial assistance to Greece under the second Economic Adjustment Programme, while the undisbursed assistance from the Greek Loan Facility was also shifted to the EFSF.[2]

The negotiations for the EFSF/M thus took place at the same time with the finalisation of the Greek Loan Facility. Therefore, many of the political/legal difficulties concerned this agreement[3] and the EFSF/M was not discussed in Parliament as such during its negotiation. There was no major opposition to the establishment of the EFSF and the general attitude of the Greek MPs throughout the crisis is that EU institutions should do more to address the crisis. In that context, the EFSF was never perceived as problematic from a constitutional perspective. Generally, in the public and parliamentary debates, the Government presented the establishment of a European bailout mechanism as a negotiated success, a proof of the recognition of the European character of the economic crisis and a net of security for the Greek and the Eurozone economy. On the contrary, the opposition parties often objected that this European mechanism is nothing but a mechanism for an orderly default and only serves the interests of the creditors.[4]

Entry into force     
IV.2    
Article 1(1) EFSF Framework Agreement provides that it will enter into force if sufficient Eurozone member states have concluded all procedures necessary under their respective national laws to ensure that their obligations shall come into immediate force and effect and provided written confirmation of this. What does this procedure look like in Greece and in what way does it involve Parliament?

It is difficult to say what the procedure is for the obligations of Greece vis-à-vis the EFSF to come into force and effect, as it depends on the nature of the EFSF agreement. This issue provoked many debates in Parliament; from the relevant debates it is obvious that there is uncertainty on the subject.

Article 28 of the Constitution determines the procedural and substantial conditions for the ratification of international agreements:

“1. The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.   
2. Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement.

3. Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.”[5]

The interpretive clause of this article states that “Article 28 is the basis for the participation of the Country in the procedures of European integration.” However, for the EFSF agreement, this constitutional procedure was not followed until September 2011.

Article 1 paragraph 4 of the legal statute 3845/2010, containing measures for the implementation of the mechanism for the support of the Greek economy,[6] provided a very broad authorization to the Minister of Finance to represent the Greek State and to sign any memorandum, agreement or loan, bilateral or multilateral, with the European Commission, the Member-States of the Eurozone, the IMF and the ECB, in order to implement the First Economic Adjustment Programme. According to the last sentence of this paragraph, “[t]he memorandums, agreements and conventions are introduced to Parliament for ratification.” Some days later, however, the Government proposed an amendment to this procedure which was voted in Parliament through the emergency procedure: instead of ratification, the relevant texts would be introduced to Parliament for “discussion and briefing.” The amendment added also that these memorandums, conventions and agreements would enter immediately into force with their signature.[7] In other words, with this amendment, the entering into force of the relevant agreements did not presuppose the substantial and procedural ratification conditions set by the Constitution (articles 36 and 28). Therefore, if the EFSF is considered part of the mechanism for the rescuing of the Greek economy, no ratification procedure is needed.

However, the Minister of Finance submitted a draft law on the 4th of June 2010, concerning the ratification of the Greek Loan Facility and the participation of the country to the EFSF. The second article of the draft law habilitated the Minister of Finance to sign any memorandum, agreement and convention in relation to the EFSF.[8]

The explanatory report of this draft is not clear as to the entering into force of the EFSF agreement. It mentions that “[Greece], which has been already financed and will be financed for three years by the loan facility approved the previous month, will not participate immediately in the European mechanism [meaning the EFSF], or, more precisely, it is considered that it has already participated, since [the EFSF] is in continuity with and constitutes an expansion of the Greek support mechanism. [Greece] will of course participate in the legal person that will materialize [the European support mechanism] and will participate integrally in the future, when it will have overcome the crisis and will have fulfilled the obligations that it has assumed.”[9] Nevertheless, this draft law was only discussed in the Permanent Commission of Finance and was never introduced to the Parliament Plenary Session for voting.[10]

The situation becomes more complicated, as article 93 of the statute 3862/2010, implementing three non-related non-related European directives, habilitates the Minister of Finance “to represent the Greek State in the EFSF and to sign any memorandum, agreement or loan, bilateral or multilateral, with the European Commission, the Member-States of the Eurozone and the ECB and to proceed to any necessary act for the participation of the Greek State in legal persons and authorities constituted for the implementation of the European Support Mechanism.”[11] The same article declares that the relevant agreements and conventions enter into force with their signature and are brought into Parliament for discussion and briefing. Concerning the loan agreements, however, the article requires their ratification by Parliament and provides that they enter into force only after the publication of the ratification statute in the Official Gazette. Finally, article 94 of the same statute attributes a retroactive effect to these provisions, from the 1st of June 2010.[12] In her speech in the parliamentary debates on the 5th of July, the representative of the majority argued that Greece had signed the EFSF agreement of the 16th June under the condition of approval by the Parliament; it was this approval that was asked with the submission of article 93 to vote.[13]

A little more than a year later, however, the EFSF Framework Agreement of the 16th of June 2010 (along with its 3 annexes), the amendment of the EFSF Framework Agreement of the 30th of June 2011 (along with its 4 annexes), and the amendment of the EFSF Framework Agreement of the 1st of September 2011 (along with its 3 annexes) were all ratified by the Greek Parliament through Law 4021/2011, also imposing a property tax and regulating bank supervision.[14] In fact, it is practice in Greece to try and discuss agreements along with the fiscal measures that accompany them in one go, in order to put pressure on MPs to vote in favour of ratification as a package deal. The agreements were introduced verbatim in both English and Greek. For their ratification, the procedure of Article 28§1 of the Constitution was used, which provides the requirement of a simple majority of MPs to vote in favour of its ratification.[15] The ratification statute was discussed in the Plenum on the 20th, 21st and 22nd and the 27th of September 2011 and entered into force with its publication in the Official Gazette on the 3rd of October.[16] In the relevant parliamentary debates, it is sometimes implied that it is not the EFSF per se that is ratified, but rather the new role assumed by the EFSF, which, after the amendment of the Framework Agreement, could provide loans to countries in financial difficulty for the recapitalization of banks, could buy bonds of over-debited countries in the primary and secondary market and could provide preventive loans to countries submitted to pressures by the markets.[17]

Guarantees
IV.3    
Member states are obliged to issue Guarantees under the EFSF. What procedure was used for this in Greece? What debates have arisen during this procedure, in particular in relation to the implications of the guarantees for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law, socio-economic fundamental rights, and the budgetary process?

Greece stepped out from the obligation to issue Guarantees under the EFSF (See article 2(7) of the Framework Agreement).[18] There was no discussion in Parliament about the issuance of guarantees for the EFSF and possible practical repercussions of this. An extended public discussion took place on the guarantees required by the creditors for the loan agreements with Greece, which is described in the relevant questions. Further, no information could be retrieved on eventual guarantees issued before the stepping-out of Greece.[19]

Activation problems      
IV.4    
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter during the national procedures related to the entry into force of the EFSF Framework Agreement and/or the issuance and increase of guarantees?

The legal and political difficulties during the national procedures related to the entry into force of the EFSF Framework Agreement did not concern so much the agreement per se or the issuance and increase of guarantees but rather the role of Parliament in its application (see question IV.6).

The EFSF Framework Agreement and its amendments were all ratified by the Greek Parliament through Law No 4021/2011.[20] The ratification statute was discussed in the Plenum on the 20th, 21st and 22nd and the 27th of September 2011 and entered into force with its publication in the Official Gazette on the 3rd of October.[21] However, the debate in Parliament was not focused on the EFSF. This is due to the fact that through the same Act two sets of provisions were introduced that were perceived as more important at the time; first, the rules for bank supervision and for the Fund that would assume responsibility for the recapitalization of the Greek Banking system and, second, a new tax linked to property.[22] In fact, it is practice in Greece to try and discuss agreements along with the fiscal measures that accompany them in one go, in order to put pressure on MPs to vote in favour of ratification as a package deal. Indeed, the statute obtained a broad consensus in Parliament precisely because most political parties perceived the institutionalization of the EFSF and its ratification by Parliament as a positive evolution for the Greek economy.[23]

In general, there was no major opposition to the establishment of the EFSF and the general attitude of the Greek MPs throughout the crisis is that EU institutions should do more to address the crisis. In that context, the EFSF was never perceived as problematic from a constitutional perspective. Relevant objections (e.g. transfer of sovereignty, English law as the applicable law to the agreement) had already been raised at an earlier stage when the first bailout agreement went through the Greek Parliament (see questions X.1-X.7). The only objection raised by the opposition parties to the EFSF institutional framework was that it constituted a mechanism of orderly default that only protected the interests of the creditors.[24]

As explained above, the EFSF Framework Agreement and its amendment that concerned the increase of guarantees were ratified through one Act by the Greek Parliament. However, concerning the issuance or increase of guarantees, the question is not applicable to Greece, since the country stepped out from its relevant obligations (see question IV.3). There was some resentment in the Greek Parliament concerning the initial refusal of Slovakia to contribute to the EFSF given that the Greek Parliament has consented to its accession to the Eurozone just a few months earlier (by the LA.O.S. party).[25]

Case law      
IV.5    
Is there a (constitutional) court judgment about the EFSM or EFSF in Greece?

No, the constitutional court judgment concerns measures implemented under the financial assistance instruments and not the EFSF per se (see question X.9). There is no constitutional judgment concerning the EFSM.

Implementation
IV.6    
What is the role of Parliament in the application of the EFSF, for example with regard to decisions on aid packages (Loan Facility Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding) and the disbursement of tranches, both of which need unanimous approval by the so-called Guarantors, i.e. the Eurozone member states?

The role of Parliament in the application of the EFSF is marginal. This provoked heated debates in Parliament, especially during the discussion of article 93 of the law 3862/2010. This article, included in a statute implementing three non-related European directives, habilitates the Minister of Finance “to represent the Greek State in the EFSF and to sign any memorandum, agreement or loan convention, bilateral or multilateral, with the European Commission, the Member-States of the Eurozone and the ECB and to proceed to any necessary act for the participation of the Greek State in legal persons and authorities constituted for the implementation of the European Support Mechanism.”[26] The same article declares that the relevant agreements and conventions enter into force with their signature and are brought into Parliament for discussion and briefing.[27]

These provisions provoked strong reactions by many deputies during the discussions of the draft law in the competent Permanent Commission of Finance of the Parliament. Most deputies, including some important members of the governing party (V. Papandreou, Geitonas, Magkoufis), objected that this article conceded too broad powers to the Minister of Finance, practically giving him/her a “carte blanche” and making any effective parliamentary scrutiny impossible.[28] The degradation of the role of Parliament through these provisions was also stressed in the Plenum discussion on the 5th of July 2010 by deputies of all the parties of the opposition.[29]

As a response to the strong reactions in the Permanent Commission, the Government proposed an amendment concerning loan agreements under the EFSF framework. For their entering into force, article 93 requires their ratification by Parliament and the publication of the ratification statute in the Official Gazette. However, during the Plenum discussion, the representative of N.D. objected that, in these cases, the ratification would only be fictitious and Parliament would be obliged to approve already taken decisions at the European level.[30] The representative of LA.O.S. argued that this provision had no sense because Greece would never be able to become a creditor for other countries.[31]

Despite these reactions, article 93 was voted by the majority of deputies and was attributed retroactive effect, from the 1st of June 2010.[32]

Implementing problems
IV.7
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the application of the EFSF?

The application of the EFSF was never a major issue in the public debates in Greece, given that Greece was a recipient of the EFSF. Relevant political/legal difficulties only arose during the negotiation and implementation of the specific financial assistance instruments, for which see the relevant questions (X.1 and following).

Bilateral support    
IV.8    
In case Greece participated in providing funding on a bilateral basis to other EU Member States during the crisis, what relevant Parliamentary debates or legal issues have arisen?

No, Greece was only a recipient of loans on a bilateral basis. It did, however, contribute to the EFSF and the ESM later on.

Miscellaneous
IV.9    
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and the EFSM/EFSF?

Greece is a debtor state to the EFSF, so relevant information can be found in the section concerning financial assistance (questions X.1 f.).

[1] See the chronological account of the Euro-crisis, http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/crisis/2010-05_en.htm

[2] See EFSF, Frequently Asked Questions, p. 18 f., available at http://www.efsf.europa.eu/attachments/EFSF%20FAQ%2004032013.pdf.

[3] See Questions X.1-X.6.

[4] See for example Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session of the 5th of July 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20100705.pdf

[5] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[6] Law 3845/2010, ΦΕΚ Α’ 65/6.5.2010.

[7] Law 3847/2010, ΦΕΚ A’ 67/11.5.2010, sole article, paragraph 9 (statute readjusting certain allowances for public pensioners). On the parliamentary debates that this provision caused, see questions X.1 and following.

[8] See the draft law, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/c8827c35-4399-4fbb-8ea6-aebdc768f4f7/CDANEIO.pdf.

[9] See the report, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/2f026f42-950c-4efc-b950-340c4fb76a24/K-TAMEIONOM-EIS1.pdf,1β.

[10] The draft law was not voted: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=bcf0f265-06e2-4d43-a1ce-06ce96d27fb1. The only information that could be retrieved on the relevant discussions in the Permanent Commission of Finance is available at http://www.skouzekaifilonos.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=423:h-&catid=55:2010-04-28-12-55-47&Itemid=55. According to this information the draft law was not voted, because, according to the laws 3845/2010 and 3847/2010, only an information procedure of the Parliament was institutionalized and not any ratification procedure.

[11] See law 3862/2010, ΦEK 113 A’/13.07.2010. This statute was submitted to Parliament on the 22nd of June, was voted on the 5th of July 2010.

[12] See the statute.

[13] See the debates of the 5th of July 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20100705.pdf, p. 9581 f.

[14] See law 4021/2011, ΦEK A’ 218/03.10.2011.

[15] This is explicitly provided in the minutes of the relevant Parliamentary session. See Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session of the 20th September 2011, available at

http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110920.pdf.

[16] http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=96a46802-d7ce-4477-92cf-f845b79275d6.

[17] See the speech of the representative of the majority in the debates on the 20th of September 2011, cited above, p. 17245 f.

[18] http://www.efsf.europa.eu/attachments/EFSF%20FAQ%2004032013.pdf, p. 2.

[19] The representative of the majority in the debates on the 5th of July 2010 implied that no such guarantees would be issued. See the relevant parliamentary debates, cited above, p. 9582.

[20] See Act 4021/2011 ΦEK 218A’/2011.

[21] http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=96a46802-d7ce-4477-92cf-f845b79275d6.

[22] See the relevant parliamentary debates, on the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 27th of September: Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session on the 20th of September, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110920.pdf; Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session on the 21st of September, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110921.pdf; Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session on the 22nd of September, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110922.pdf; Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session on the 23rd of September, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110927.pdf.

[23] See the debates on the 20th, the 21st and the 22nd of September, cited above.

[24] See the Minutes of the Greek Parliament cited above.

[25] See the speech of the LA.O.S. deputy Kostas Aivaliotis in the debates on the 20th of September, cited above.

[26] See law 3862/2010, ΦEK 113 A’/13.07.2010. This statute was submitted to Parliament on the 22nd of June, was voted on the 5th of July 2010.

[27] This provision, practically identical with the one concerning the Greek Loan Facility (amended article 1 paragraph 4, law 3845/2010) is actually a repetition of the article 2 of a draft law, submitted on the 4th of June 2010 and concerning the ratification of the Greek Loan Facility and the participation of the country to the EFSF. However, this draft was never discussed and voted in Parliament. See question IV.2. See also the comment by the N.D. deputy Christo Staikoura, http://www.cstaikouras.gr/2010/06/dilosi-gia-ti-sizitisi-ke-enimerosi-epi-mnimonion-simfonion-ke-simvaseon/

[28] See «Νέες αντιδράσεις για το «εν λευκώ» [New reactions for the “carte blanche”]», Ελευθεροτυπία, Friday 25 June 2010, http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=176809.

[29] See the Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session of the 5th of July 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20100705.pdf, p. 9581 f.

[30] See the speech of Nikolopoulos in the debates of the 5th of July, cited above.

[31] See the speech of Aivaliotis in the debates of the 5th of July, cited above.

[32] See article 94 of the statute.





V - 136(3) TFEU

At the 16/17 December 2010 European Council a political decision was taken to amend the Treaties through the simplified revision procedure of article 48(6) TFEU. On March 25, 2011 the European Council adopted the legal decision to amend article 136 TFEU by adding a new third paragraph: “The Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.”          
The process of approval of this decision by the member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements as prescribed by article 48(6) has been completed and the amendment has entered into force on 1 May 2013.

Negotiation
V.1
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU?

There were no major political/legal difficulties in the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU. This was presented by the Greek Government (PA.SO.K.) as the result of a difficult negotiation, as a success in the effort to save the State from bankruptcy and as a symbol of the decisiveness of the European partners of Greece to support the country.[1] However, concerning the concrete structure of the Stability Mechanism, the Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou emphasized the need to preserve the autonomy and the equality of States, independent of the size of their national debt, as well as the need for growth provisions.[2]

The content of the amendment of the TFEU has been debated shortly in Parliament, on the 28th of March 2012,[3] and only in relation with the agreement for the creation of the ESM. Especially concerning the amendment, the main issue debated in Parliament concerned the approval procedure. Indeed, during its negotiation, the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. and other academic and political cycles demanded a referendum in order for this amendment to enter into force.[4] The Prime Minister responded that he had mentioned to the European Heads of State the possibility for him to organize a referendum in case the changes concerning the EU and the Eurozone are very important.[5]

Approval
V.2
How has the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment been approved in Greece and on what legal basis/argumentation?

The Greek Constitution contains several rules concerning the approval of treaties and treaty amendments.

In particular, article 36 of the Greek Constitution declares:

 “1. The President of the Republic, complying absolutely with the provisions of article 35 paragraph 1, shall represent the State internationally, declare war, conclude treaties of peace, alliance, economic cooperation and participation in international organizations or unions and he shall announce them to the Parliament with the necessary clarifications, whenever the interest and the security of the State thus allow.

2. Conventions on trade, taxation, economic cooperation and participation in international organizations or unions and all others containing concessions for which, according to other provisions of this Constitution, no provision can be made without a statute, or which may burden the Greeks individually, shall not be operative without ratification by a statute voted by the Parliament.

3. Secret articles of an agreement may in no case reverse the open ones.

4. The ratification of international treaties may not be the object of delegation of legislative power as specified in article 43 paragraphs 2 and 4.”[6]

Moreover, article 28 declares:

“1. The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.

2. Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement.

3. Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.”[7]

An interpretive statement added with the constitutional reform of 2001 declares that “Article 28 is the basis for the participation of the Country in the procedures of European integration.”

Thus, article 28 of the Constitution in combination with the EU treaties, habilitate the EU institutions to exercise constitutional competences and, under certain conditions, to restrict the national sovereignty of Greece. Therefore, this article is considered by the majority of the doctrine to have a “tacit constitutional reform function”.[8] In the case of the amendment of article 136 TFEU it was the Prime Minister, Giorgos Papandreou, who represented the country by participating in the meeting of the Council where this amendment was decided.

The statute approving the amendment of Article 136 TFEU was voted according to the regular parliamentary procedure of articles 70 f. of the Constitution. The constitutional basis invoked by the Government for the following of this procedure was article 28 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which states that “The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.”[9] An interpretive statement added to the constitutional reform of 2001 declares that “Article 28 is the basis for the participation of the Country in the procedures of European integration.” The article, however, does not specify the majority required for the vote of the statute ratifying the treaty.[10]

Ratification difficulties           
V.3
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter during the ratification of the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?

There have been no major legal/political problems during the approval of the amendment of article 136 TFEU. This amendment has been presented as a habilitation for the creation of a mechanism for the financial help of countries like Greece. Thus, it has been considered by most political parties (PA.SO.K., N.D., LA.O.S., DIM.AR., DI.SY.) the symbol of enhanced cooperation and solidarity in the European Union, and a step towards the redistribution of budgetary resources between Eurozone member states and towards further European integration. The rest of the parties (SY.RIZ.A. and K.K.E.) have criticized this amendment only in relation to the following Euro-crisis legal instruments (the ESM and the Fiscal Compact).[11]

However, things have been more complicated as far as the approval procedure is concerned, the debates for which took place during the campaign for the elections of the 6th May 2012. The amendment of the TFEU treaty was part of a more general draft bill, which also contained the ratification of the ESM and the Fiscal Compact. Therefore, debates concerning the constitutionality of the bill, and especially of the procedure of voting, were sometimes focused on these texts (see also questions VIII.2, VIII.3 and IX.3). The bill approving the Treaty amendment was drafted on March 15th, 2012 and was debated and voted in Parliament on March 28th, 2012.[12] It was voted in one day, with a majority of 194 deputies out of the 253 present voting in favor (total of deputies is 300). The deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the two parties of the government coalition at the time, voted in favor. The members of SY.RIZ.A., DIM.AR., LA.O.S., and DI.SY. voted against. However, the members of DIM.AR. did not disapprove the treaty amendment itself, for which they declared “present”. Instead they voted against the statute in principle. It is interesting to note that LA.O.S. had participated in the government at the time of the decision of 9 December 2011(the political decision leading to the 136 TFEU amendment and the Fiscal Compact).[13]

During the parliamentary debates on 28 March 2012, the deputies of the opposition accused the PA.SO.K./ND Government of hiding these treaties from the Greek people, through the concise parliamentary procedure mobilized for their ratification. In general, especially the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. and LA.O.S., repeatedly criticized the functioning of the Parliament and the negligence to the parliamentary procedure and monitoring by the Government. In response, the deputies of PA.SO.K. claimed that they were “not acting in absentia of the Greek people because, by voting these treaties, [they were] supporting the basic choice of the Greek people, which is that the country remains in the Eurozone.”[14]

More precisely, deputies from LA.O.S. objected that the statute in question, because of its crucial importance for Greece and for Europe in general, and because of the fact that it attributes constitutional competences concerning fiscal and budgetary policy to organs of international organizations, should be voted according to the procedure defined in paragraph 2 of article 28. According to this paragraph, “Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement.”[15] (180/300). The members of LA.O.S. argued that it was the Fiscal Compact that imposed a qualified majority for ratification in order to enter into force. They argued that the treaties under ratification change the structure and the decision-making procedure inside the Eurozone, and thus constitute a concession of constitutional competences to the Eurozone organs.[16] Thus, in order to preserve the validity of the voting procedure and to prove that the statute had been adopted by the qualified majority required, they demanded the procedure of nominal vote, which was followed at the end.[17]

The members of SY.RIZ.A. rejected the competence of Parliament to amend the treaties of the European Union. Reiterating objections already raised during the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU (see question V.1),[18] they argued that this amendment, as well as the ESM and Fiscal Compact entailed an amendment of the Constitution. Thus, a constitutional reform or a referendum was required, following the example of other European countries, like Ireland. In order to support the argument, the deputies invoked article 3 paragraph 2 of the Fiscal Compact. Thus, they invited the government to proceed to a referendum for the ratification of these provisions, or, at least, to wait for the elections, which were scheduled for the 6th of May. In any case, they argued that the government did not want to follow the special procedure of article 28 paragraph 2, even though it possessed the qualified majority needed, because it did not want to create a precedent for future voting procedures.[19] Mobilizing these arguments, the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. raised an objection of unconstitutionality before the Parliament, which was rejected by a raising vote, according to article 100 paragraph 2 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.[20]

Finally, the deputies of DIM.AR. emphasized the fact that the majority required was the absolute majority of the total number of deputies (151/300), according to paragraph 3 of article 28. According to this paragraph, “Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.”[21] The deputies of DIM.AR. alleged that paragraph 1 of article 28 of the Constitution, invoked by the government, was only interpretive and did not require a specific procedure for the ratification of European treaties, which have been always voted according to the third paragraph of this article. Indeed, according to them, the European Union is not an international organization but a union which they would like to be federal.[22]

The deputies of the governing parties (PA.SO.K. and N.D.) argued, however, that the Treaty amendment, the Fiscal Compact and the ESM do not expand the competences of the European Union. To support their argument they invoked the simplified procedure of Treaty revision followed.[23] In addition, the deputies of N.D. argued that European Union is not an international organization, according to the terms of article 28 paragraph 2 of the Greek Constitution, but a sui generis state organization.[24]

The Greek constitutional doctrine has been divided on the subject.[25] Most scholars, however, before the Eurozone crisis, considered that for the ratification of European Treaties and their amendments in general (and not with the simplified procedure followed), the Constitution requires a combined application of the procedural conditions of paragraph 2 and the substantial conditions of paragraph 3. Nevertheless, they emphasized that “the solution will not become definitive, until the broad until now parliamentary majority for the support of the European course of the country breaks.”[26]

Case law        
V.4

Is
there a (constitutional) court judgment in Greece on the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?

No, there is no court judgment on the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment. Indeed, in Greece there is no general possibility to directly attack legal statutes before the court.[27] Instead, judicial review of the legislator is diffused among all jurisdictions of the civil and administrative order, and is finally concentrated in the Supreme Administrative and Judiciary Courts (Council of State – “Symvoulio tis Epikrateias” and Areios Pagos respectively). Each justiciable possessing a legitimate interest, in the occasion of a litigation before a judge, can raise an objection of unconstitutionality of a legal statute applied in the case, both in case this statute is applied directly, and in case it is the legal basis of another act. According to article 93 paragraph 4 of the Constitution, “The courts are obliged to preclude the application of a legal statute, whose content is contrary to the Constitution.” Courts apply the same constitutional basis, in combination with article 28 paragraph 1, in order to monitor the compatibility of ordinary law with international conventions. Indeed, article 28 paragraph 1 declares: “The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.”[28] The result of unconstitutionality/unconventionality is the non-application of the statute in the concrete case before the judge. Courts in general refuse to examine the respect of the rules of parliamentary procedure, which is considered interna corporis of the legislator.[29] In any case, given that the TFEU amendment was approved in 2012 and given the time-consuming character of Greek judicial procedures, there is no court judgment on the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment.

Miscellaneous
V.5
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?

Not applicable.

[1] See the press conference of Giorgos Papandreou after the completion of the works of the European Council in Brussels, on the 25th of March 2011, available at http://archive.pasok.gr/portal/resource/contentObject/id/2d87c92c-84a6-411a-a67f-e00197e48071. See also “G. Papandreou: «No» to a suppression of vote, «yes» to a permanent support mechanism” [in Greek], Eleftherotypia, 29 October 2010, http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=218194.

[2] See question VIII.1 concerning the ESM negotiations.

[3] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012

[4] See the question of Alexis Tsipras in the parliamentary debates of the 10th of December 2010, in Πρακτικά Βουλής, Συνεδρίαση ΛΘ’, Παρασκευή 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 2732 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101210.pdf. See also, Notis Marias, “Referendum for the Amendment of the Lisbon Treaty” [in Greek], Epikaira, 24 March 2011, http://www.epikaira.gr/epikairo.php?id=15885.

[5] See the response of Giorgos Papandreou to the question of Alexis Tsipras in the debates cited above.

[6] Source of the translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf. In general, this source is not used for the translation of the provisions added or amended with the constitutional amendments of 2001 and 2008, because it is not updated.

[7] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf.

[8] Cf. Antonis Manitakis and Lina Papadopoulou (eds.), H προοπτική ενός συντάγματος για την Ευρώπη [The Perspective of A Constitution For Europe]  (2003 Athina-Thessaloniki: Ant. N. Sakkoulas) 160 ff. See also citations for the relevant literature.

[9] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[10] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030.

[11] See question V.1. See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012.

[12] Legal Statute 4063/2012, ΦΕΚ Α’ 71, published on 30 March 2012.

[13] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, 8030.

[14] See the speech by Konstantinos Geitonas in the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, 8043.

[15] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[16] See the parliamentary debates, 8020, 8030, 8037, 8057.

[17] Ibid, 8063.

[18] See the question of Alexis Tsipras in the parliamentary debates of the 10th of December 2010,  in Πρακτικά Βουλής, Συνεδρίαση ΛΘ’, Παρασκευή 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 2732 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101210.pdf

[19] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, cited above, 8020, 8032, 8050, 8058, 8063.

[20] Ibid, 8035. Traditionally there is no judicial review of the procedure followed by the Parliament, which is considered interna corporis. However, especially concerning the application of article 28 of the Constitution, the Supreme Administrative Court (Council of State), in its decision 668/2012 accepted to review the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Parliament. Cf. question X.9.

[21] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[22] Ibid., 8033, 8038, 8060, 8063.

[23] See the parliamentary debates.

[24] Ibid. 8037. See also the parliamentary debates of the 25th of October 2006, in the Commission for the Constitutional Reform, in Πρακτικά Επιτροπής Αναθεώρησης του Συντάγματος, Συνεδρίαση ΣΤ’, Τετάρτη 25 Οκτωβρίου 2006, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/25102006.pdf. In fact, the vagueness of article 28 concerning the European Treaties has led to discussions on its amendment in 2006. However, also because of the disagreement between parties, the amendment was abandoned.

[25] It is interesting to note that constitutional lawyers are very often political personalities in Greece. For example, the president of PA.SO.K. is Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Athens. Similarly, the Minister of Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance is Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Thessaloniki.

[26] See Cf. Antonis Manitakis and Lina Papadopoulou (eds.), Η προοπτική ενός συντάγματος για την Ευρώπη, [The Perspective of A Constitution For Europe](2003 Athina-Thessaloniki: Ant. N. Sakkoulas) 160 ff., esp. 173. See also citations for the relevant literature. In the same direction are the arguments of Theodora Antoniou, especially as far as the TFEU amendment is concerned, in «Η απόφαση της Ολομελείας του Συμβουλίου της Επικρατείας για το ΜνημόνιοΜια ευρωπαϊκή υπόθεση χωρίς ευρωπαϊκή προσέγγιση [The Decision by the Plenum of the Council of State on the Memorandum – A European Affair Without A European Approach]», ToΣ, 1/2012, 197.

[27] There is, however, the High Special Court, instituted according to article 100 of the Constitution, which can monitor the constitutionality of a statute, in the case of contrary decisions on the matter by the two supreme courts, Council of State (administrative) and Areios Pagos (judiciary).

[28] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[29] However, in the case concerning the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding, the judge accepted to enter into the examination of the procedure of ratification. See the relevant question.





VI - Euro Plus Pact

On March 11, 2011 the Heads of State or Government of the Eurozone endorsed the Pact for the Euro. At the 24/25 March 2011 European Council, the same Heads of State or Government agreed on the Euro Plus Pact and were joined – hence the ‘Plus’ – by six others: Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania (leaving only the UK, Czech Republic, Sweden and Hungary out).           
The objective of the pact is to foster competitiveness, foster employment, contribute to the sustainability of public finances and reinforce financial stability. In the Euro-Plus-Pact the Heads of State or Government have entered into commitments on a number of policy areas, in which member states are competent.         
(
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/120296.pdf)

Negotiation
VI.1
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the negotiation of the Euro-Plus-Pact, in particular in relation to the implications of the Pact for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law, socio-economic fundamental rights, and the budgetary process.

The issue of the Euro-plus pact was not extensively debated in Parliament. In general, in Greece, most of the relevant constitutional and political issues have been raised in the context of the bailout agreements and their implementation measures. These measures were often perceived as intrusive and/or in violation of the Constitution. Otherwise, increased supervision from Brussels was never perceived as a major issue by the mainstream political world and by the media, as long as it is accompanied by more help.

Concerning the Summit on the Euro-plus Pact, on the 1st of April 2011, the President of the Parliamentary Group of SY.RI.ZA. raised a question to the Prime Minister in the context of the Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government. In his speech Alexis Tsipras criticized Giorgos Papandreou for establishing long-term commitments that burden the Greek people, without even introducing them to Parliament for ratification according to article 28 of the Constitution. Papandreou responded that Tsipras’s objective was to terrorize the public opinion and that the Euro-plus Pact only contained policy objectives which were espoused by the Government and in some cases already adopted by it.[1]

No other discussion on the legal/political nature of the Pact could be retrieved. The general idea that is given from the public debate on the issue is that the Euro-plus pact has been perceived as another step in the financial integration of the Eurozone. It has always been closely connected to the establishment of a European financial support mechanism, as the fulfilment of its provisions has been perceived as a condition for the support of the Greek economy.

Miscellaneous
VI.2
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and the Euro-Plus-Pact?

Not applicable.

[1] See the Minutes of the Greek Parliament, Plenary Session of the 1st of April, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110401.pdf.





VII - Six-Pack

The ‘Six-Pack’ is a package of six legislative measures (five regulations and one directive) improving the Economic governance in the EU. The Commission made the original proposals in September 2010. After negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament, the package was adopted in November 2011 and entered into force on December 13, 2011. Part of the ‘Six-Pack’ measures applies only to the Eurozone member states (see the individual titles below).   
The ‘Six-Pack’ measures reinforce the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), among others by introducing a new Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure, new sanctions (for Eurozone member states) and reversed qualified majority voting. Also, there is more attention for the debt-criterion.   
(
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/index_en.htm)

Negotiation
VII.1
What positions did Greece adopt in the negotiation of the ‘Six-Pack’, in particular in relation to the implications of the ‘Six-Pack’ for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law
, socio-economic fundamental rights, and the budgetary process?

The position of the Government during the negotiations of the “six-pack” was not much discussed in public debates or in Parliament. Negotiations took place at the same time with the Greek bail-out negotiations and thus the latter monopolized public and parliamentary discussion. The “six-pack” enhanced budgetary surveillance and discipline was generally perceived by the Greek Government as a necessary step for further European integration.

The position of the Government was clarified by Papandreou, the Prime Minister at the time of the negotiations, in an interview given immediately after the September 2010 Euro-Summit. According to Papandreou, Greece was not opposed to a European mechanism of fiscal surveillance and to sanctions; he observed that, if such a mechanism existed some years before, it would have prevented the Greek crisis. However, he accentuated issues of justice and other aspects of economic governance, such as issues concerning fiscal paradises, sanctions against banks, growth and competitiveness. He stressed that austerity should be replaced by responsibility concerning macroeconomic figures, growth strategy and transition to a “green” economy. Papandreou proposed three tools to this direction: issuing of “green bonds”, imposition of the Tobin tax and of CO2 taxation.[1]

Directive 2011/85/EU
Council Directive 2011/85/EU of 8 November 2011 on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States

Implementation
VII.2
What measures are being taken to implement Directive 2011/85/EU on requirements for budgetary frameworks (required before 31 December 2013, article 15 Directive 2011/85/EU)?

Statute 4270/2014 implemented Directive 2011/85/EU into the Greek legal order.[2] The statute was introduced to Parliament on the 3rd of June 2014 and was discussed and voted on the 26th of June 2014. It entered into force on the 28th of June.[3] Apart from the implementation of the Directive, the statute aimed at the systematization of the Greek budgetary process, until then dispersed in various legal texts.

Implementation difficulties          
VII.3
What political/legal difficulties
did Greece encounter in the implementation process, in particular in relation to implications of the directive for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law and the budgetary process?

No serious political/legal difficulties were encountered during the implementation of Directive 2011/85/EU. Since Greece was subject to an Economic Adjustment Programme already providing for stringent economic supervision rules, the Directive was hardly a matter of public discussion. The Directive was implemented with statute 4270/2014.[4]

During parliamentary debates for the voting of the statute, the Directive was presented by the Government as a move for the consolidation of Euro-area Member States’ economies through the adoption of common rules and principles. It was also perceived as a proof that the Eurozone functions within the EU legal framework. In substance, the Government representative argued that the statute implementing the Directive would modernize the Greek budgetary procedure in order to avoid the deficits of the past.[5]

The representative of SY.RIZ.A. objected that the statute was imposing more stringent economic governance and was further removing issues from the political forum, in order to subject them only to evaluation according to technocratic standards. He contested the effectiveness of the measures from the point of view of economic rationality and he reproached the limited participation of Parliament to the choice of the members of the Fiscal Council instituted by the statute.[6]

The representative of PA.SO.K. responded that the adoption of growth policies would be only possible at a European level, while the political will of European leaders is absent.[7]

Macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts         
VII.4
What institution will be responsible for producing macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts (article 4(5) Directive 2011/85/EU)? What institution will conduct an unbiased and comprehensive evaluation of these forecasts (article 4(6) Directive 2011/85/EU)?

According to article 21 of statute 4270/2014, the General Accounting Office of the State (a service under the Ministry of Finance) is competent for producing macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts. The same statute instituted an Independent Fiscal Council according to the provisions of Directive 2011/85/EU, which is charged with the evaluation of these forecasts.[8]

Fiscal Council    
VII.5
Does Greece have in place an independent Fiscal Council (article 6(1) Directive 2011/85/EU: ‘independent bodies or bodies endowed with functional autonomy vis-à-vis the fiscal authorities of the Member States’)? What are its main characteristics? Does Greece have to create (or adapt) a Fiscal Council in order to implement Directive 2011/85/EU?

Greece instituted a Fiscal Council (called Hellenic Fiscal Council) with statute 4270/2014,[9] in order to implement Directive 2011/85/EU. This Council is an Independent Administrative Authority; its main characteristic is its functional independence and the personal independence enjoyed by its members.

The Council’s Board of Directors (President and four members) is staffed following an open call: a committee composed by the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Greece and the President of the Court of Audit select the most competent candidates (according to objective and predetermined criteria). The final selection of the members of the Board among these candidates belongs to the discretion of the Government. The selected persons must be subsequently approved by the special permanent parliamentary committee for Institutions and Transparency. They are nominated by the Minister of Finance for 5 years. Technocratic economic knowledge is the main criterion for being eligible as a member of the Council.

The Council is financed by the Budget and is responsible for managing its revenues and expenses.[10]

Regulation No 1176/2011 on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances     
(
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32011R1176:EN:NOT)

MEIP difficulties      
VII.6
What political/legal difficulties
did Greece encounter and what debates have arisen, in particular about implications of the regulation for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law, socio-economic fundamental rights, and the budgetary process?

No serious political/legal difficulties were encountered by Greece about the implications of Regulation No 1176/2011. Generally, debates at the time were focused on the Economic Adjustment Programme. However, the “six-pack” was perceived by the opposition as a prolongation of budgetary surveillance and discipline in EU Member States. Chountis, an MEP of SY.RIZ.A. (at the time in the opposition), in a relevant question to the European Commission in September 2013, argued that the “six-pack” and the “two-pack” limit Member States’ sovereignty and democratic rights. He further argued that these EU legal instruments “institutionalize unprecedented interventions by EU institutions and by strong Member States to the sovereign exercise of economic and fiscal policy at the domestic level, and render permanent a stringent austerity regime to the detriment of European peoples”.[11]

Regulation No 1175/2011 on strengthening budgetary surveillance positions
(
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1997R1466:20111213:EN:PDF)

MTO procedure
VII.7
What changes to the rules on the budgetary process are made to accommodate the amended Medium-term Budgetary Objective (MTO) Procedure?

Law 3871/2010 first established the obligation to draw up a Medium term budgetary framework.[12] Subsequently law 4270/2014 incorporated the rules concerning the medium term framework into the new budgetary process that it instituted and further harmonized Greek law to the precepts of the “six-pack” and especially to Directive 11/85/EU.[13]

Article 14 of the statute defines the MTO as “the medium term budgetary objective, according to what is defined in paragraph 1 of article 3 of the Treaty on the Stability, Coordination and Governance in the EMU”. Article 35 of the statute announces the Budgetary Position Rule, according to which the annual General Government structural balance should correspond to the MTO. Further, the same article defines maximum and minimum limits for the MTO, following Section 1-Aa of the consolidated Regulation (EC) No 1466/97. Article 35 provides that the MTO is mentioned in the Medium term budgetary framework and in the introductory report to the Annual Budget; the Minister of Finance re-examines the MTO at least every three years, according to the Stability and Growth Pact procedures.

Temporal deviation from the MTO is allowed only in exceptional circumstances, and only under the condition that such deviation will not endanger medium term fiscal sustainability, or in times of implementation of major structural reforms. Finally, article 35 defines for the first time a MTO on structural balance. Article 36 sets the MTO concerning the debt/GDP ratio according to the precepts of Directive 11/85/EU and article 2 of the consolidated Regulation (EC) No 1466/97. Article 37 announces the adjustment path rule, according to the precepts of amended Section 1-Aa of Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 and allows for deviations from this rule only in exceptional circumstances, and only under the condition that such deviation will not endanger medium term fiscal sustainability, or in times of implementation of major structural reforms.

Articles 38-40 regulate the corrective mechanism procedure, activated after initiative of the Minister of Finance, the Fiscal Council, or automatically after recommendation by the European Council, in case of important deviations from the MTO or the adjustment path. They describe the procedure and the content for the adoption of a corrective action plan, whose implementation is monitored by the Fiscal Council with the regular publication of relevant reports. Finally, article 41 provides that, if the country is under an economic adjustment programme (which is the case of Greece), the fiscal rules of articles 35 f. and their adjustment path are defined in this programme, in which the corrective action plan is incorporated as well.[14]

European semester  
VII.8
What changes have to be made to the rules and practices on the national budgetary timeline to implement the new rules on a European Semester for economic policy coordination (section 1-A, article 2-a consolidated Regulation 1466/97)?

Law 3871/2010 for the first time defined a specific budgetary time-line, before the “six pack”.[15] According to this statute, the timeline of the budgetary cycle is divided in calendrical stages accordingly:

1) January-March (1st Stage): the General Governmental Strategy is defined and the Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy is compiled.

2) April-May (2nd Stage): The Medium Term Framework of Budgetary Strategy is approved by the Ministerial Council and is approved by the Parliament.

3) June-July (3rd Stage): The budgetary process for Central Government begins, together with the preparation of the budget of the rest of the institutions of General Government.

4) August-October (4th Stage): Negotiations between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministries concerning their budget and timely preparation of the Social Budget.

5) November-December (5th Stage): Submission and voting of the Central Government Budget by Parliament with a parallel publication of the budget of the remaining institutions of General Government (Social Security Funds, Hospitals, Local Authorities).[16]

Statute 4270/2014 incorporated this time-line into the new budgetary process that it instituted (article 54) and further harmonized domestic law to the “European semester”.[17] Thus, it provided that the Fiscal Council (an independent administrative authority instituted for the first time by the same statute) will publish twice per year, in conformity with the “European Semester” time-line, a report in which it will elaborate its conclusions concerning the macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts, the fiscal objectives and the fiscal results.[18]

MTO difficulties       
VII.9
What political/legal difficulties
did Greece encounter and what debates have arisen, in particular about implications of the regulation for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law and the budgetary process?

The regulation was not particularly discussed during public or parliamentary debates. The MTO was perceived as a rule imposed by Directive 11/85/EU. During parliamentary debates for the voting of the statute 4270/2014, which harmonized Greek budgetary process with the “six-pack” precepts, the representative of SY.RIZ.A. objected that the statute was imposing more stringent economic governance and was further removing issues from the political forum, in order to submit them only to technocratic standards. He contested the effectiveness of the measures from the point of view of economic rationality and he reproached the limited participation of Parliament to the choice of the members of the Fiscal Council.[19] The representative of PA.SO.K. responded that the adoption of growth policies would be possible only at a European level, while the political will of European leaders is absent.[20]

Respect MTO       
VII.10
How is respect of the Medium-term Budgetary Objective included in the national budgetary framework (section 1A, article 2a consolidated Regulation 1466/97)?

Statute 4270/2014 harmonized the Greek budgetary process with the “six-pack” precepts and introduced the MTO procedure.[21] Article 35 provides that the MTO is mentioned in the Medium term budgetary framework and in the introductory report to the Annual Budget; the Minister of Finance re-examines the MTO at least every three years, according to the Stability and Growth Pact procedures. Temporal deviation from the MTO is allowed only in exceptional circumstances, and only under the condition that such deviation will not endanger medium term fiscal sustainability, or in times of implementation of major structural reforms. Finally, article 35 defines for the first time a MTO on structural balance. Article 36 sets the MTO concerning the debt/GDP ratio according to the precepts of Directive 11/85/EU and article 2 of the consolidated Regulation (EC) No 1466/97. Article 37 announces the adjustment path rule, according to the precepts of Section 1-Aa of the consolidated Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 and allows for deviations from this rule only in exceptional circumstances, and only under the condition that such deviation will not endanger medium term fiscal sustainability, or in times of implementation of major structural reforms. Articles 38-40 regulate the corrective mechanism procedure, activated after initiative of the Minister of Finance, the Fiscal Council, or automatically after recommendation by the European Council, in case of important deviations from the MTO or the adjustment path. They describe the procedure and the content for the adoption of a corrective action plan, whose implementation is monitored by the Fiscal Council with the regular publication of relevant reports. Finally, article 41 provides that, if the country is under an economic adjustment programme (which is the case of Greece), the fiscal rules of articles 35 f. and their adjustment path are defined in this programme, in which the corrective action plan is incorporated as well.[22]

Current MTO      
VII.11
What is Greece’s current Medium-term Budgetary Objective (section 1A, article 2a consolidated Regulation 1466/97)? When will it be revised?

Greece was expected to increase its primary surplus from 2.5% GDP in 2015 to 5.3% GDP in 2018. The debt/GDP ratio was expected to gradually decrease from 168.3% GDP in 2015 to 139.1% GDP in 2018.[23] In 2013 and 2014, Greece achieved its MTO. The objective, announced in the Medium term budgetary framework, should have been revised by April 30; however, though the procedure for its revision was initiated in March, the lack of agreement with Greece’s creditors has perturbed the process.[24]

Adoption MTO   
VII.12
By what institution and through what procedure is Greece’s Medium-term Budgetary Objective adopted and incorporated in the stability programme (Eurozone, article 3(2)(a) consolidated Regulation 1466/97)?

According to article 35 of statute 4270/2014, the MTO is mentioned in the Medium term budgetary framework and in the introductory report of the Annual Budget. These documents are drawn up by the General Accounting Office of the State, a service of the Ministry of Finance (articles 20 and 21). The same article imposes that the Minister of Finance re-examines the MTO at least every three years, according to the procedures set in the Stability and Growth Pact.[25]

Regulation No 1177/2011 on the excessive deficit procedure
(
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1997R1467:20111213:EN:PDF)

EDP difficulties         
VII.13
What political/legal difficulties
did Greece encounter and what debates have arisen, in particular about implications of the regulation for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law and the budgetary process?

No serious political/legal difficulties were encountered by Greece about the implications of Regulation No 1177/2011. Generally, debates at the time were focused on the Economic Adjustment Programme. However, the “six-pack” was perceived by the opposition as a prolongation of budgetary surveillance and discipline in EU Member States. Chountis, an MEP of SY.RIZ.A., in a relevant question to the European Commission, argued that the “six-pack” and the “two-pack” limit Member States’ sovereignty and democratic rights. He further argued that these EU legal instruments “institutionalize unprecedented interventions by EU institutions and by strong Member States to the sovereign exercise of economic and fiscal policy at the domestic level, and render permanent a stringent austerity regime to the detriment of European peoples”.[26]

Regulation No 1173/2011 on effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance
(
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32011R1173:EN:NOT)
Sanctions
VII.14
What political/legal difficulties
did Greece encounter and what debates have arisen, in particular about implications of the regulation for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law and the budgetary process?

No serious political/legal difficulties were encountered by Greece about the implications of Regulation No 1173/2011. Generally, debates at the time were focused on the Economic Adjustment Programme. However, the “six-pack” was perceived by the opposition as a prolongation of budgetary surveillance and discipline in EU Member States. Chountis, an MEP of SY.RIZ.A., in a relevant question to the European Commission, argued that the “six-pack” and the “two-pack” limit Member States’ sovereignty and democratic rights. He further argued that these EU legal instruments “institutionalize unprecedented interventions by EU institutions and by strong Member States to the sovereign exercise of economic and fiscal policy at the domestic level, and render permanent a stringent austerity regime to the detriment of European peoples”.[27]

General changes        
VII.15
What further changes have to be made to the rules on the budgetary process in order to comply with the Six-Pack rules?

Law 3871/2010 brought about important amendments to the Greek budgetary process, some months after the agreement of the First Economic Adjustment Programme (cf. questions II.1 f.). These amendments overlap with the “six-pack” rules. Subsequently, statute 4111/2013 established fiscal rules and practices for General Government institutions and services. Most importantly, every institution or service must set budgetary objectives according to the Annual Budget voted by Parliament.[28]

Statute 4270/2014 incorporated these changes into a systematic text and further harmonized the Greek budgetary process with the “six-pack” rules. Apart from the particular changes discussed in the previous questions (creation of an independent fiscal council, harmonization with the European semester, MTO and medium term budgetary framework etc.), the statute established the legal framework for the fiscal surveillance of General Government sub-sectors. Thus it imposes the adoption of specific fiscal rules at the level of General Government combined with clear economic objectives and with a clearly defined adjustment path for their achievement, as well as with a corrective mechanism in case of deviation from these objectives. The function of Authorizing Officer is separated from and incompatible with that of the Head of Financial Service of General Government institutions and the Head of Financial Service acquires more competences. Both the Authorizing Officer and the Head of the Financial Service of each institution must sign decisions concerning the assuming of obligations by General Government sectors (articles 24 f.). Further, the statute clearly defines the institutional framework of the budgetary process and the competences of the various authorities (articles 18 f.). It states the general principles governing the management of General Government finances (principle of reasonable financial management, of responsibility and reason giving, of transparency, of sincerity (article 33). The statute also enounces some principles concerning pluriannual fiscal planning (article 34): it should give priority to the repayment of the debt and to the consolidation of fiscal and economic stability, it should be unitary and concern all General Government sectors, it should be based on medium term forecasts, it should be transparent and subject to scrutiny by independent authorities.[29]

Miscellaneous
VII.16
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and the Six-Pack?

No information retrieved.

[1] Cf. the reportage on Papandreou’s speech after the Summit, To Vima, 16 September 2010, available at http://www.tovima.gr/finance/article/?aid=354834.

[2] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision (incorporation of Directive 1176/2011), public accounting and other provisions. For the situation before this statute, cf. European Commission, Occasional Paper on the European Economy, no 128, Interim Progress Report on the implementation of Council Directive 2011/85/EU on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States, February 2013, available at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/occasional_paper/2013/pdf/ocp128_en.pdf.

[3] Cf. http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=9be63580-976a-4580-a440-8bb787a2c0bc.

[4] Cf. question VII. 2.                                                

[5] Cf. Minutes of the Greek Parliament, 26 June 2014, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20140626.pdf, 290 f.

[6] Cf. the relevant debates, cited above, at 295 f.

[7] Cf. ibid, 297 f.

[8] Cf. Part A’ of the Statute.

[9] Cf. question VII. 2.                                                

[10] Cf. Part A’ statute 4270/2014.

[11] Cf. the relevant question by N. Chountis, available at http://www.europarl.gr/el/greek-meps/meps-activity/meps-activity-2013/september/sepmep14.html;jsessionid=5AD5723EAD20226EBB639DF77A7880C4.

[12] See question II.2.

[13] Cf. Part B’ statute 4270/2014.

[14] See the explanatory report to statute 4270/2014, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/2f026f42-950c-4efc-b950-340c4fb76a24/a-apred-eis-olo.pdf.

[15] Cf. question II.4.

[16] See the informative note accompanying the bill, http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=22cdbbfe-ed73-4fe5-8f49-d6a1c6f88494. See also the explanatory report to the bill, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=22cdbbfe-ed73-4fe5-8f49-d6a1c6f88494.

[17] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision, public accounting and other provisions.

[18] Article 2 paragraphs 4 f.

[19] Cf. the relevant debates, cited above, at 295 f.

[20] Cf. ibid, 297 f.

[21] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014, principles of fiscal management and supervision (incorporation of Directive 1176/2011), public accounting and other provisions, Part B’.

[22] See the explanatory report to statute 4270/2014, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/2f026f42-950c-4efc-b950-340c4fb76a24/a-apred-eis-olo.pdf.

[23] Cf. the Medium term budgetary framework (Law 4263/2014), ΦΕΚ 117 Α‘/14.05.2014, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=b65768b8-fbd9-42c8-ab30-627e8c36bdf1.

[24] Cf. circulars 2/16590/ΔΠΔΣΜ/6.3.2015 and 2/17310/ΔΠΓΚ/10.3.2015, published on 11/3/2015, available at https://diavgeia.gov.gr/.

[25] ΦΕΚ Α’ 143/28-6-2014.

[26] Cf. the relevant question by N. Chountis, available at http://www.europarl.gr/el/greek-meps/meps-activity/meps-activity-2013/september/sepmep14.html;jsessionid=5AD5723EAD20226EBB639DF77A7880C4.

[27] Cf. the relevant question by N. Chountis, available at http://www.europarl.gr/el/greek-meps/meps-activity/meps-activity-2013/september/sepmep14.html;jsessionid=5AD5723EAD20226EBB639DF77A7880C4.

[28] Cf. Law 4111/2013, ΦΕΚ 18 Α‘/25.01.2013, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Nomothetiko-Ergo/Anazitisi-Nomothetikou-Ergou?law_id=3cde3e1c-d018-4244-af66-c69249f657f6.

[29] See the explanatory report to the statute, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/2f026f42-950c-4efc-b950-340c4fb76a24/a-apred-eis-olo.pdf.





VIII - ESM Treaty

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Treaty was signed on July 11 2011. It was later renegotiated and a new ESM Treaty was signed on February 2, 2012. The Treaty provides a permanent emergency fund that is intended to succeed the temporary emergency funds. It entered into force on September 27, 2012 for 16 contracting parties (Estonia completed ratification on October 3). The 17 contracting parties are the member states of the Eurozone, but the ESM Treaty is concluded outside EU law.          
(
http://www.european-council.europa.eu/eurozone-governance/esm-treaty-signature?lang=it and http://www.esm.europa.eu/pdf/FAQ%20ESM%2008102012.pdf)

Negotiation
VIII.1
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the negotiation of the ESM Treaty, in particular in relation to the implications of the treaty for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law, socio-economic fundamental rights, and the budgetary process.

No major political and legal difficulties were encountered by Greece in the negotiation of the ESM Treaty. PA.SO.K. (the Government party during most of the time of the negotiations, namely until the 11th of November 2011) sees the creation of a permanent support mechanism as a success against the hesitations of European partners, especially Germany, as a proof of the tough negotiations carried out by Greece at the European level, and as a personal success of the Prime Minister, Giorgos Papandreou, who was the first to propose such a mechanism.[1] More precisely, PA.SO.K. presents the ESM as a political victory, and as a step towards the completion of the deficient EMU and European integration. ESM is perceived as a mechanism of protection of Eurozone countries from asymmetric risks, as the admission of the European dimension of the financial crisis, and as a reorientation of Europe towards a more political union. It shows recognition of the sacrifices of the Greek people, and the decisiveness of the Eurozone partners to support Greece after 2012.[2] In the negotiations, the official position of the Government was thus positive about the creation of the ESM, a discussion which has been connected with the creation of Eurobonds, with the buying of national bonds by the ECB, and with the taxation of financial transactions. The Government, however, has been negative about the imposition of political sanctions to members with a high debt, a German proposal that was in the end not adopted.[3] However, the deputies of PA.SO.K. have emphasized their hope for more courageous decisions by Europe and criticized the political indecisiveness and hesitation of European leaders.[4] Moreover, the negotiations of the ESM Treaty have provoked the criticism of certain members of the Government party, who perceived the ESM as a default mechanism for the protection of creditors.[5]

N.D., which participated in the Government coalition during the final negotiations of the treaty and during its ratification, namely since the 11th of November 2011, also sees the ESM as a progress. However, it criticizes the participation of the IMF and the fact that the ESM has been created too late.[6] In addition, the deputies of N.D. criticize the strict conditionality under which financial support is given by the ESM and emphasize the need for growth.[7]

The most virulent criticism against the ESM came from the parties K.K.E. and SY.RIZ.A. Indeed, for these left wing parties the ESM is seen as a continuation of the EFSF, the Memorandum, and the austerity measures. More precisely, Alexis Tsipras has strongly criticized the implication of the IMF in the Eurozone, institutionalized through the ESM Treaty. He accused the Government of not effectively negotiating and of not listening to the propositions of the Left.[8] He also underlined that the ESM does not bring about any substantial changes to the deficient structure of the Eurozone, but consists only in an admission that Greece will not be able to borrow from the markets in 2013. According to SY.RIZ.A., the decision to create the ESM has as a major goal to protect creditors and is positive only for them and not for the Greek people.

K.K.E. follows a more radical line of reasoning. According to its members, the participation of Greece in imperialistic organizations such as the EU serves only the capital and business groups, and not the lower classes. The ESM is a proof of the unpopular character of the EU and the Eurozone, as it is an imperialistic mechanism of bankruptcy, which cannot counter the real causes of the crisis of capitalism, and which only protects creditors. The activation of the ESM is submitted to strict conditionality which undermines social and labor rights. Moreover, this conditionality entails considerable limitations to national sovereignty.[9]

Ratification
VIII.2
How has the ESM Treaty been ratified in Greece and on what legal basis/argumentation?

Things have been complicated as far as the ratification procedure is concerned, the debates for which took place during the campaign for the elections of the 6th May 2012. The ratification of the ESM treaty was part of a more general draft bill, which also contained the amendment of article 136 TFEU and the ratification of the Fiscal Compact (see questions V.3 and IX.3). The bill ratifying the ESM treaty was drafted on March 15th, 2012 and was debated and voted in Parliament on March 28th, 2012.[10] It was voted in one day, with a majority of 194 deputies out of the 253 present voting in favor (total of deputies is 300). The deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the two parties of the government coalition at the time, voted in favor. The members of SY.RIZ.A., DIM.AR., LA.O.S., and DI.SY. voted against. It is interesting to note that LA.O.S. had participated in the government at the time of the decision of 9 December 2011 for the (the political decision leading to the 136 TFEU amendment and the Fiscal Compact).[11]

The statute was voted according to the regular parliamentary procedure of articles 70 f. of the Constitution. The constitutional basis invoked by the Government for the following of this procedure was article 28 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which states that “The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.[12] An interpretive statement added with the constitutional reform of 2001 declares that “Article 28 is the basis for the participation of the Country in the procedures of European integration.” Although the ESM has been characterized by the government as “an inter-state mechanism that does not expand the competences of the EU”,[13] its concrete legal status has not been discussed and the terms “Eurozone stability mechanism”, “European Stability Mechanism” and “stability mechanism of the European Union” are used as synonymous in the parliamentary debates. During the negotiations of the ESM treaty in the past, PA.SO.K. defended that it possessed the status of EU primary law.[14] The article invoked by the Government as a basis for the ratification, however, does not specify the majority required for the vote of the statute ratifying the treaty.[15]

During the parliamentary debates on the 28th of March 2012, the deputies of the opposition accused the PA.SO.K./ND Government of hiding these treaties from the Greek people, through the concise parliamentary procedure mobilized for their ratification. In general, especially the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. and LA.O.S., repeatedly criticized the functioning of the Parliament and the negligence to the parliamentary procedure and monitoring by the Government. In response, the deputies of PA.SO.K. claimed that they were “not acting in absentia of the Greek people because, by voting these treaties, [they were] supporting the basic choice of the Greek people, which is that the country remains in the Eurozone.”[16]

More precisely, deputies of LA.O.S. objected that the statute in question, because of its crucial importance for Greece and for Europe in general, and because of the fact that it attributes constitutional competences concerning fiscal and budgetary policy to organs of international organizations, should be voted according to the procedure defined in paragraph 2 of article 28 of the Constitution. According to this paragraph, “Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement.[17] (180/300). The members of LA.O.S. argued that it was the Fiscal Compact that imposed a qualified majority for ratification in order to enter into force. They argued that the treaties under ratification were changing the structure and the decision-making procedure inside the Eurozone, and thus they constituted a concession of constitutional competences to the Eurozone organs.[18] Thus, in order to preserve the validity of the voting procedure and to prove that the statute had been adopted with the qualified majority required, they demanded the procedure of nominal vote, which was followed at the end.[19]

The members of SY.RIZ.A. rejected the competence of Parliament to amend the treaties of the European Union. Reiterating objections already raised during the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU for the creation of a stability mechanism (see question V.1),[20] they argued that the treaty amendment, as well as the ESM and Fiscal Compact entailed an amendment of the Constitution. Thus, a constitutional reform or a referendum was required, following the example of other European countries, like Ireland. In order to support the argument, the deputies invoked article 3 paragraph 2 of the Fiscal Compact. Thus, they invited the government to proceed to a referendum for the ratification of these provisions, or, at least, to wait for the elections, which were scheduled for the 6th of May. In any case, they argued that the government did not want to follow the special procedure of article 28 paragraph 2 of the Constitution, even though it possessed the qualified majority needed, because it did not want to create a precedent for future voting procedures.[21] Mobilizing these arguments, the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. raised an objection of unconstitutionality before the Parliament, which was rejected by a raising vote, according to article 100 paragraph 2 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.[22]

Finally, the deputies of DIM.AR. emphasized the fact that the majority required was the absolute majority of the total number of deputies (151/300), according to paragraph 3 of article 28 of the Constitution. According to this paragraph, “Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.[23] The deputies of DIM.AR. alleged that paragraph 1 of article 28 of the Constitution, invoked by the government, was only concerning the place of international treaties in relation to domestic law and did not require a specific procedure for the ratification of European treaties, which have been always voted according to the third paragraph of this article. Indeed, according to them, the European Union is not an international organization but a union which they would like to be federal.[24]

The deputies of the governing parties (PA.SO.K. and N.D.) argued, however, that the Treaty amendment, the Fiscal Compact and the ESM do not expand the competences of the European Union. To support their argument they invoked the simplified procedure of Treaty revision followed.[25] In addition, the deputies of N.D. argued that European Union is not an international organization, according to the terms of article 28 paragraph 2 of the Greek Constitution, but a sui generis state organization.[26]

The Greek constitutional doctrine has been divided on the subject.[27] Most scholars, however, before the Eurozone crisis, considered that for the ratification of European Treaties and their amendments in general (and not with the simplified procedure followed), the Constitution requires a combined application of the procedural conditions of paragraph 2 and the substantial conditions of paragraph 3. Nevertheless, they emphasized that “the solution will not become definitive, until the broad until now parliamentary majority for the support of the European course of the country breaks.”[28]

Ratification difficulties       
VIII.3
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter during the ratification of the ESM Treaty?

Despite the virulent criticisms that the ESM Treaty provoked from the part of the opposition, there were no major difficulties during its ratification, because of the broad parliamentary majority that supported the Government at the time. The legal statute ratifying the Treaty, as well as the amendment of article 136 TFEU and the Fiscal Compact, was debated and voted in one day, on the 28th of March 2012, with a majority of 194 deputies out of the 253 present voting in favor (the total of deputies is 300). The deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the two parties of the government coalition at the time, voted in favor. The members of K.K.E., SY.RIZ.A., DIM.AR., LA.O.S., and DI.SY. voted against. It is interesting to note that LA.O.S. had participated in the Government at the time of the decision of 9 December 2011 for the (the political decision leading to the 136 TFEU amendment and the Fiscal Compact).[29]

According to the deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the institutionalization of the ESM is an extremely positive development for Greece, even though the conditionality of the application of the ESM Treaty is very strict. In the parliamentary debate of 28 March 2013, the deputies supporting the Government defended that there is a need for economic stability in Europe. Moreover, claiming that Greece will be autonomous only if it does not need to borrow money, they maintained that there is no other way but to ratify the treaty. Finally, they admitted that Europe is oriented to neoliberal policies and they expressed hopes that, in case the socialist Hollande would win the French Presidential elections of May 2012, together with other politicians, they would work in order to change this. They emphasized the need for growth in the EU and especially in countries struck by the financial crisis and they criticized the one-sided character of the treaty ratified, focused only on competitiveness.

In general, the ESM Treaty has been criticized more because of the conditionality that it sets, than for the creation of the ESM itself. The Government has been also accused by the opposed parties of hiding the conventions ratified from the Greek people, through the mobilization of opaque procedures. A deputy of the majority responded that “[they] are not acting in absentia of the Greek people because, by voting these treaties, we are supporting the basic choice of the Greek people, which is that the country remains in the Eurozone.”[30]

The Communist Party (K.K.E.) claimed during the parliamentary debate of 28 March 2012 that the treaties under ratification showed the real face of the EU, which is an imperialist organization, against labor and social rights. In response to other parties’ claims on the unconstitutionality of the parliamentary procedure, they defended that the matter is not procedural and that inside the EU there is no possibility of democracy. They emphasized that the treaties ratified are limiting national sovereignty for the benefit of an imperialist organization and that there is no possibility of renegotiation of the Euro-crisis measures; instead, there is a need to exit the Eurozone and the EU, because the crisis is a crisis of capitalism. Concerning the ESM in particular, they stressed that this mechanism is not enough and that it is full of incoherences. They claimed that, at the end, the ESM Treaty, because of the asymmetry in the EU, benefits strong Germany and serves the capital against the working class. They characterized the ESM as a mechanism of controlled bankruptcy, which will bring about new memoranda and anti-popular measures, in the effort to protect creditors and the banking system at the European level.

During the same parliamentary debate, the deputies of LA.O.S criticized the time-consuming action of the EU, and expressed their hope that the socialist François Hollande would renegotiate the treaties under ratification, in order for them to contain growth provisions. Concerning the ESM in particular, they emphasized the incoherence of the treaty because of the need for countries with financial problems to participate in the saving of their own economy. They stressed that it would be difficult for the Greek government to find the money that it has to contribute to the ESM. Moreover, they claimed that the ESM Treaty raises sovereignty problems, among others because of the governance rules of article 4 of the Treaty, and provokes an “abdication of the Ministry of Economics”,[31] in the profit of Germany.

According to SY.RIZ.A., the ESM Treaty, together with the Fiscal Compact, demonstrate the commitment of the Greek Government to the neoliberal policy of Germany, which leads inevitably to economic decline. The ESM is a mechanism of controlled default, under conditions which benefit only the creditors and Germany. Indeed, an eventual uncontrolled default would have an immense cost for the European North. Furthermore, the deputies of SY.RIZ.A., invoking also press publications in internationally well-known journals, observed that the capital provided for the ESM is not enough in order to face the debt crisis of Eurozone Member States. They emphasized the need for taxation of financial transactions, and for a mechanism of financial redistribution between countries of the European North and South. Moreover, they stressed the fact that the ESM Treaty involves the IMF as an institutional counterpart of EU integration. According to them, the ESM Treaty undermines the equality between Member States, because the participation of each Member State in the decision-making procedure of the mechanism depends on the number of stakes it holds. Finally they highlighted that the ESM constitutes an admission of the failure of the monetary union and a turn to a permanent search of competitiveness, through austerity.

The deputies of DIM.AR. held a rather moderate position, accepting the ESM, but not the conditionality which complements it. They emphasized the need for a change of policy in the EU and the need for a political and social union.

Case law        
VIII.4
Is there a (constitutional) court judgment on the ESM Treaty?

No, there is no court judgment on the ESM Treaty. Indeed, in Greece there is no general possibility to directly attack legal statutes before the court.[32] Instead, judicial review of the legislator is diffused among all jurisdictions of the civil and administrative order, and is finally concentrated in the Supreme Administrative and Judiciary Courts (Council of State – “Symvoulio tis Epikrateias” and Areios Pagos respectively). Each justiciable possessing a legitimate interest, in the occasion of a litigation before a judge, can raise an objection of unconstitutionality of a legal statute applied in the case, both in case this statute is applied directly, and in case it is the legal basis of another act. According to article 93 paragraph 4 of the Constitution, “The courts shall be bound not to apply a statute whose content is contrary to the Constitution.[33] Courts apply the same constitutional basis, in combination with article 28 paragraph 1, in order to monitor the compatibility of ordinary law with international conventions. Indeed, article 28 paragraph 1 declares: “The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.[34] The result of unconstitutionality/uncoventionality is the non-application of the statute in the concrete case before the judge. Courts in general refuse to examine the respect of the rules of parliamentary procedure, which is considered interna corporis of the legislator.[35] In any case, given that the TFEU amendment was approved in 2012 and given the time-consuming character of Greek judicial procedures, there is no court judgment on the ESM Treaty.

Capital payment
VIII.5
What is the role of Parliament in the payment of the (first instalment of) paid-in capital required by the ESM Treaty (article 36 ESM Treaty)? What relevant debates have arisen in relation to this payment?      

Parliament has a marginal role in the payment of the installments of paid-in capital required by the ESM Treaty. This payment, prefigured to 450.672.000 euros per year in five installments,[36] is included in a chapter of the national budget, which has not at all been discussed during the parliamentary debates for the approval of the budget.[37] Thus, with the approval of the national budget, Parliament has habilitated the Government to take the necessary measures in order to assure the payment of this capital. That is because the application of the ESM Treaty is rather seen from the point of view of the beneficiary than that of a creditor to the ESM. The financial contribution of the country to the capital of the ESM has only been underlined during the parliamentary debates for the ratification of the ESM Treaty. In these debates, deputies of LA.O.S. objected that it would be difficult for the Government to provide the resources needed and that this would lead to new austerity measures against the Greek people.[38]

Application & Parliament    
VIII.6
What is the role of Parliament in the application of the ESM Treaty, for example with regard to decisions to grant financial assistance and the disbursement of tranches, which both require unanimous adoption by the Board of Governors composed of the national Finance Ministers.

Parliament has a marginal role in the application of the ESM Treaty, which is a competency of the Government. Indeed, the application of the ESM Treaty is rather seen from the point of view of the beneficiary than that of a creditor to the ESM. However, during the parliamentary debates, parliamentary monitoring is exercised to the position of the Government in the negotiations for financial assistance to third countries and the disbursement of tranches.[39] In general, there is not much transparency concerning the position of the Minister of Finance in the Eurogroup and the negotiations on the application of the ESM Treaty. Nevertheless, after the demand of the President of the Special Permanent Commission of European Affairs together with the Permanent Commission of Economic Affairs of the Parliament, a procedure of information of the Commission by the Minister of Finance concerning Eurogroup meetings has been institutionalized, albeit informally.[40]

Application difficulties 
VIII.7
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the application of the ESM Treaty?

As far as the application of the ESM Treaty is concerned, Spain and Cyprus are perceived by the press and the political world as suffering from the same problems as Greece, as cases that demonstrate the generality and the systemic nature of the Euro-crisis problem. The financial assistance to these countries is perceived and discussed more in a comparative perspective to the Greek case. Thus, the examples of Spain and Cyprus are used by all political parties in order to show errors in the financial assistance programs for Greece, the weakness of the negotiating capacities of Government officials or, on the contrary, in order to demonstrate the success of the negotiations effectuated by the Greek Government.

Concerning the financial assistance to Spain, it is important to note that a part of the negotiations coincided with the transitional period between the two Greek elections of 2012. The discussions in Parliament show that the Greek Government was not perceived as participating and having a say in the discussions at the European level. Even when European decisions have been criticized, it is Europe itself and rarely the position of the Greek government that is considered. After the elections of the 17th of June, all political parties expressed their hopes for the renegotiation of the Greek debt in order to obtain a solution similar to the one that was to be adopted for Spain, and thus, a transfer of part of the Greek debt (corresponding to 25% GDP) to the European financial support mechanism. Deputies from PA.SO.K. and DIM.AR. defended that the Greek case is similar to the Spanish one, and that this solution would be a result of an equal treatment of Eurozone Member States.[41] The Communist Party (K.K.E.), however, objected that the buying of state bonds by the ESM would be combined with memoranda and austerity measures.[42] In general, at the beginning, the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. and AN.EL. were criticizing the Government for not negotiating a similar solution for Greece as the Spanish did.[43] N.D. responded to the criticisms that this solution was conditioned by onerous measures, notably the control of Spanish banks by the EFSF.[44] After the adoption of the final solution for Spain, SY.RIZ.A., lamenting the lack of political union in the EU, criticized the fact that, at the end, it was the Spanish people that would be held responsible for the debts of banks, through the imposition of austerity measures.[45]

Concerning the case of Cyprus, the matter was a more sensible one because of the strong national, historic and cultural bonds between Greece and Cyprus. Almost all political leaders criticized the solution adopted with the first decision of the Eurogroup on the 15th of March.[46] During the debates on the 19th of March 2013, deputies from all parties characterized the rejection of the Eurogroup decision by the Cypriot Parliament courageous and expressed their solidarity to the Cypriot people. More precisely, deputies from PA.SO.K. (participates in the Government) characterized the Eurogroup decision as a “crime”,[47] and said that neoliberal policies in Europe are exclusively based on political decisions, emphasizing the need for change of orientation for Europe. They defended that the Greek Parliament should respect every decision of the Cypriot Parliament. Finally, they said that the Eurogroup decision was a wrong decision, which put Euro and Europe into danger, and which provoked division inside the Eurozone and has been criticized by the press. However, they maintained that the Greek government could not but accept this decision, which was already approved in the Eurogroup of the 15th of March, stressing out the need for more information on the position of the Government during the formation of the decision. DIM.AR. (participates in the Government) also condemned the decision of the first Eurogroup, which it characterized a “historical mistake”[48] that expresses the neoliberal forces prevailing in Europe.

N.D. and the Government tried to justify their position by saying that the agreement on the taxation of bank deposits was a sovereign political decision of the President of the Cypriot Republic together with the IMF, the ECB, the Commission and the Eurogroup partners. Indeed, they explained that in the Eurogroup a concrete decision is presented, on which the state representatives have to express themselves. Given the European correlation of powers, Greece could not oppose to the Eurogroup decisions by itself. They defended that, by agreeing to this decision, they showed their support and solidarity to Cyprus, and they maintained a responsible position. They held that the Greek Government could not intervene in the internal matters of another state. Also, they emphasized that, with the Eurogroup decision for Cyprus, Greece is protected from eventual consequences of the Cypriot crisis, through the transfer of the branches of the Cypriot banks operating in Greece to a Greek bank. Even though they admitted that this decision is a step back from the banking union and a turnover of the previous flexibilization of the position of the ECB, they pointed out that Cyprus is a particular case, because of its huge and problematic banking sector.[49] Finally, the Minister of Finance imputed the adoption of this onerous solution to the inexistence of a banking union between the Member States of the Eurozone.[50]

However, the deputies of the opposition exercised virulent criticism to the position of the Government during the negotiations and they demanded further explanations. They emphasized that the Greek Minister of Finance participated to the unanimous Eurogroup decision, showed no solidarity to the Cypriot people, and supported the disastrous decision on the “haircut” of bank deposits.[51] More precisely, deputies from SY.RIZ.A., using the term “colonization”,[52] criticized the role of the Eurozone and of Germany, who only promote the interests of bankers. They stressed the incoherence of the Eurogroup decision, causing leak of capitals and instability to the profit of banks owned or controlled by German banks, with the foundations and the justification of the existence of the monetary union itself. Moreover, SY.RIZ.A. representatives demanded the resignation of the Government. They emphasized that the “no” of the Cypriot Parliament is a proof that there is an alternative to austerity and economic recession as a way to face the crisis, that negotiation is possible. They added that Greece needs to support the European South and, as long as it does not, it undermines its own economy because of the insecurity provoked. Finally, they pointed out the consequences that the economic crisis in Cyprus may have at the level of the exploitation of the natural resources of the island, which are close to the ones belonging to Greece.

The rest of the opposition parties also criticized the Government. On the one hand, the deputies of AN.EL. held a similar position to SY.RIZ.A., saying that the Eurogroup decision destroys the confidence in the EU, that it is a crime, and that it violated the right to privacy and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. They emphasized the political responsibility of the Government because of its participation to such an illegal decision. Further, they demanded either the resignation of the Minister of Finance, or the resignation of the whole Government that supported the decision for Cyprus. On the other hand, the deputies K.K.E. defended that the first Eurogroup decision on Cyprus is a demystification of the role of Europe and of capitalism as a whole, as it shows the character of EU and the policies it promotes.[53]

The second Eurogroup decision on Cyprus on the 25th of March 2013 also provoked intense reactions by the political parties. The President of the Republic went as far as to characterize this decision as “intolerable”, because it constituted a discrimination against Cyprus.[54] The opposition talked about a “German hegemony”.[55] SY.RIZ.A. criticized the Greek Government for not supporting the decision of the Cypriot Parliament. They accused the Government of participating in the “attacks” to Cyprus for borrowing from a non EU state (Russia), and in the “blackmailing” by the ECB, the IMF and the Commission.[56] Moreover, they emphasized the geopolitical matters at stake. They said that the second Eurogroup decision undermines the European Union and creates problems to all Member States, including Germany. The deputies of AN.EL. defended that the new disastrous decision of the Eurogroup shows that European partners do not respect the European values of democracy, solidarity, and human rights. Invoking press publications, they emphasized that this decision undermined the confidence of deposit holders in the whole Europe and mined the image of Germany. They added that it was absurd that the EU morally condemned a model of economic growth of a Member State, and they imputed this model to the incidents between Cyprus and Turkey, and thus the division of the island, which did not permit any other economic growth. Finally, they accused the Greek Government for not participating in a “plan B” for Cyprus, even though the Cypriot crisis is largely caused by the Greek one. The deputies of K.K.E. criticized the decision for Cyprus, and they defended that no negotiation that would be beneficial for the people is possible inside the neoliberal European Union. They also expressed fears about eventual evolutions concerning the problem with Turkey and the exploitation of natural resources of the island.

The Government parties, even though they recognized that the Eurogroup decision was very onerous for Cyprus, emphasized the need for Cyprus to remain Member of the Eurozone. PA.SO.K. and DIM.AR. however criticized the lack of political union in the EU and expressed hopes for a reorientation of European policies to this objective. Finally, the Government parties used the disastrous consequences of the Cypriot “no” to the first Eurogroup decision as a proof of the negotiation power of the Eurozone partners.[57]

Greece was particularly concerned by the decision on the bailout of Cyprus because of the agreement between Cyprus and Greece on the Greek branches of Cypriot banks.[58] “In order to protect the stability of the Greek and the Cypriot banking sector”, the “troika” set as a condition the sale of these branches to a Greek bank in order to approve the financial support programme for Cyprus.[59] The Greek parties of the opposition doubted the promotion of the public interest and of the interests of Cyprus by this decision, they accused the Government of serving the interests of Pireus bank, which is the buyer, and demanded further information on the subject. The Minister of Finance alleged that it was the only solution. The Government claimed that it acted with the exclusive goal of the guarantee of deposits, the maintaining of working posts and the stability of the Greek financial sector. [60] For the transfer of the branches of the Cypriot banks to Pireus bank, an amendment of a legal statute was inserted at first on the 11th of April 2013. However, because of its irrelevance to the content of the bill in which it was added, and after the objections of many deputies provoked by the lack of information from the part of the Government, the latter retired the amendment[61] and inserted it into another –still irrelevant– bill on the 17th of April 2013.

The statute regulates ad hoc the transfer of the Cypriot banks, providing that the increasing of the Greek bank’s property is not included in the calculation of the capital needs of the bank, the 10% of which must be covered by private parties’ contribution for the recapitalization of the bank. Also, it excludes the transaction from taxes.[62] During the parliamentary debates, SY.RIZ.A. and AN.EL. alleged that the transfer under consideration was increasing the property of the Greek buyer bank. Thus, it had to be done according to the already existing legal framework, with transparency concerning the value of the branches and following the rules concerning banks’ capital and recapitalization. Also, it should be submitted to taxes. The Government responded that a special rule was necessary because no framework for the improvement of foreign banks existed at the time. They claimed that the existing legal framework was respected in principle and that the benefits accorded to the Greek bank were a result of the agreement with this bank. Besides, these benefits were justified by the fact that no other buyer was found for the Cypriot branches, which needed to be saved in order to assure deposits of Greek people and of social security funds. However, the opposition did not finally vote the amendment, fearing that the privileged treatment of the Greek private bank would become a general practice in the future.[63]

Implementation
VIII.8

Have there been any relevant changes in national legislation in order to implement or to comply with requirements set by the ESM-Treaty?

No, there are no changes in national legislation for the implementation of the ESM Treaty in particular. Relevant legislation has been adopted for the implementation of measures concerning the financial assistance to Greece and the EFSF.[64]

Miscellaneous
VIII.9
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and the ESM Treaty?

What is interesting is precisely the lack of information concerning the role of Parliament in the application of the ESM Treaty. After its ratification, its application seems to be an exclusive competency of the executive branches, whose exercise is not transparent and is rarely debated in Parliament.

[1] See the parliamentary debates on the national budget of 2011, on December 2010: Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ME’, Σάββατο, 18 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101218.pdf ; Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση MΣΤ’, Κυριακή, 19 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101219.pdf ; Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση MΖ’, Δευτέρα, 20 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101220.pdf ; Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση MΗ’, Τρίτη, 21 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101221.pdf ; Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση MΘ’, Τετάρτη, 22 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101222.pdf ; see also the debates after the European Council of the 11th of March, where the ESM is discussed: : Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση P’, Τετάρτη, 16 Μαρτίου 2011, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110316%20%28proi%29.pdf ; Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση PΑ’, Τετάρτη, 16 Μαρτίου 2011, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110316%28apog.%29.pdf . Cf. also the debates on the 14th of July 2011, after the signing of the first ESM Treaty, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση PΟΣΤ’, Πέμπτη, 14 Ιουλίου 2011, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110714.pdf. Finally, cf. the debates on the 7th of February 2012, after the signing of the final version of the ESM Treaty, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση OH’, Τρίτη, 7 Φεβρουαρίου 2012, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20120207.pdf;

[2] Debates on the national budget and the debates on the 14th July 2011. See also the debates on the 16th of March 2011, and on the 7th of February 2012.

[3] See the parliamentary debates on the 18th of November 2010, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση KB’, Πέμπτη, 18 Νοεμβρίου 2010, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101118.pdf , esp. 1367. See also the debates on the national budget of 2011, cited above, and the debates on the 14th of July 2011.

[4] Debates on the national budget of 2011, and debates on the 19th of October 2011, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΙΔ’, Τετάρτη, 19 Οκτωβρίου 2011, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20111019%20%28apog%29.pdf .

[5] See the speech of Pantelis Oikonomou, in the debates on the 21st of December 2010, cited above, 3131.

[6] Cf. the debates on the national budget of 2011 date? Reference?.

[7] See the debates on the 16th of March 2011.

[8] Cf. the debates on the national budget of 2011 date? Reference? and the debates on the 16th of March 2011.

[9] Cf. the debates on the national budget of 2011. Date/reference?

[10] Legal Statute 4063/2012, ΦΕΚ Α’ 71, published on 30 March 2012.

[11] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030.

[12] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[13] See the same parliamentary debates, 8022.

[14] See the speech of Evangelos Venizelos, in Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΟΣΤ’, Πέμπτη, 14 Iουλίου 2011, 13728, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20110714.pdf.

[15] Ibid. 8030.

[16] See the speech of Konstantinos Geitonas in the parliamentary debates, 8043.

[17] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[18] See the parliamentary debates, 8020, 8030, 8037, 8057.

[19] Ibid, 8063.

[20] See the question of Alexis Tsipras in the parliamentary debates of the 10th of December 2010,  in Πρακτικά Βουλής, Συνεδρίαση ΛΘ’, Παρασκευή 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 2732 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20101210.pdf

[21] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, cited above, 8020, 8032, 8050, 8058, 8063.

[22] Ibid, 8035. Traditionally there is no judicial review of the procedure followed by the Parliament, which is considered interna corporis. However, especially concerning the application of article 28 of the Constitution, the Supreme Administrative Court (Council of State), in its decision 668/2012 accepted to review the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Parliament. Cf. the relevant question.

[23] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[24] Ibid., 8033, 8038, 8060, 8063.

[25] See the parliamentary debates.

[26] Ibid. 8037. See also the parliamentary debates of the 25th of October 2006, in the Commission for the Constitutional Reform, in Πρακτικά Επιτροπής Αναθεώρησης του Συντάγματος, Συνεδρίαση ΣΤ’, Τετάρτη 25 Οκτωβρίου 2006, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/25102006.pdf. In fact, the vagueness of article 28 concerning the European Treaties has led to discussions on its amendment in 2006. However, also because of the disagreement between parties, the amendment was abandoned.

[27] It is interesting to note that constitutional lawyers are very often political personalities in Greece. For example, the president of PA.SO.K. is Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Athens. Similarly, the Minister of Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance is Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Thessaloniki.

[28] See Cf. Antonis Manitakis and Lina Papadopoulou (eds.), Η προοπτική ενός συντάγματος για την Ευρώπη, [The Perspective of A Constitution For Europe] (2003 Athina-Thessaloniki: Ant. N. Sakkoulas) 160 ff., esp. 173. See also citations for the relevant literature. In the same direction are the arguments of Theodora Antoniou, especially as far as the TFEU amendment is concerned, in

«Η απόφαση της Ολομελείας του Συμβουλίου της Επικρατείας για το ΜνημόνιοΜια ευρωπαϊκή υπόθεση χωρίς ευρωπαϊκή προσέγγιση [The Decision by the Plenum of the Council of State on the Memorandum – A European Affair Without A European Approach]», ToΣ, 1/2012, 197.

[29] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030.

[30] See the debates cited above, 8043.

[31] See the speech of the leader of LA.O.S., Georgios Karatzaferis, in the parliamentary debates cited, 8039.

[32] There is, however, the High Special Court, instituted according to article 100 of the Constitution, which can monitor the constitutionality of a statute, in the case of contrary decisions on the matter by the two supreme courts, Council of State (administrative) and Areios Pagos (judiciary).

[33] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[34] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[35] However, in the case concerning the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding, the judge accepted to enter into the examination of the procedure of ratification. See the relevant question.

[36] See the Preamble of the Legal Statute 4063/2012, ΦΕΚ Α’ 71, published on 30 March 2012, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/2f026f42-950c-4efc-b950-340c4fb76a24/k-slee-eis.pdf.

[37] See the Preamble to the national budget for 2013, available at http://www.minfin.gr/content-api/f/binaryChannel/minfin/datastore/23/78/55/23785536b0ff793c788edcb81129a634e74727d7/application/pdf/%CE%95%CE%B9%CF%83%CE%B7%CE%B3%CE%B7%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE+%CE%88%CE%BA%CE%B8%CE%B5%CF%83%CE%B7+2013.pdf

[38] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030, 8032.

[39] See the next question.

[40] See the video of the session of the Commission on the 15th of May 2013, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Vouli-ton-Ellinon/ToKtirio/Fotografiko-Archeio/#3b32b0de-43dd-41f2-b7f6-5a489117fa6a.

[41] See the parliamentary debates on the 7th of July 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση E’, Σάββατο, 7 Ιουλίου 2012, 50, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20120707.pdf

[42] See the parliamentary debates on the 8th of July 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΣΤ’, Κυριακή, 8 Ιουλίου 2012, 103, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20120708.pdf.

[43] See the parliamentary debates on the 8th of July, cited above and on the 12th of September 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΚΕ’, Τετάρτη, 12 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012, 886, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20120912.pdf.

[44] See the parliamentary debates on the 11th of September 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΚΔ’, Τρίτη, 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2012, 832, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20120911.pdf.

[45] See the parliamentary debates on the 8th of November 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΞΣΤ’, Πέμπτη, 8 Νοεμβρίου 2012, 4272, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20121108.pdf.

[46] See the reactions of political parties to the decision of the Eurogroup, at http://www.megatv.com/megagegonota/article.asp?catid=27371&subid=2&pubid=30809493

[47] See the parliamentary debates on the 19th of March 2013, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΜΖ’, Τρίτη, 19 Μαρτίου 2013, 9151, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20130319.pdf, 9166.

[48] See the parliamentary debates on the 19th of March 2013, cited above, 9174.

[49] See the parliamentary debates on the 19th of March 2013, cited above.

[50] See the information meeting on the 20th of March 2013 between the Minister and the Special Permanent Commission of European Affairs and the Permanent Commission of Financial Affairs of the Parliament, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Vouli-ton-Ellinon/ToKtirio/Fotografiko-Archeio/#5ae38d11-7e8f-4470-9ad3-1c01cd2adb55.

[51] See the parliamentary debates on the 19th of March 2013, cited above.

[52] See the parliamentary debates on the 19th of March 2013, cited above, 9197.

[53] See the parliamentary debates on the 19th of March 2013, cited above.

[54] “The reactions of the political world to the Eurogroup decision on Cyprus”, skai.gr, 25 March 2013, http://www.skai.gr/news/politics/article/227369/oi-adidraseis-tou-politikou-kosmou-gia-tin-apofasi-eurogroup-gia-tin-kupro/

[55] See the parliamentary debates on the 27th of March 2013, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΝΒ’, Τετάρτη, 27 Μαρτίου 2013, 9614, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20130327.pdf, and on the 28th of March 2013, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΝΓ’, Πέμπτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2013, 9667, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20130328.pdf.

[56] See the debates on the 28th of March 2013, cited above, 9701.

[57] See the parliamentary debates on the 27th and 28th of March, cited above.

[58] See press release of the Eurozone on the agreement: http://eurozone.europa.eu/newsroom/news/2013/03/eg-statement-cyprus-25-03-13/.

[59] See the press release of the Central Bank of Cyprus on this transaction: http://www.centralbank.gov.cy/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=12677&lang=en.

[60] See the parliamentary debates on the 8th of April 2013, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΞ’, Δευτέρα, 8 Απριλίου 2013, 10122, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20130408.pdf.

[61] See the parliamentary debates on the 11th of April 2013, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΞΓ’, Πέμπτη, 11 Απριλίου 2013, 10667, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20130411.pdf.

[62] See the amendment concerning the transfer of the Cypriot branches to Greek banks, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/bbb19498-1ec8-431f-82e6-023bb91713a9/%CE%88%CE%B3%CE%B3%CF%81%CE%B1%CF%86%CE%BF%20%288035923%29.pdf.

[63] See the parliamentary debates on the 17th of April 2013, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΞΖ’, Τετάρτη, 17 Απριλίου 2013, 10845, available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/a08fc2dd-61a9-4a83-b09a-09f4c564609d/es20130417.pdf.

[64] For this legislation, cf. the relevant questions in the section “Members receiving financial assistance” and the EFSF section. For the implementation of article 12 paragraph 3 of the ESM Treaty, at the administrative level, there has been a ministerial decree which defines certain “Rules of Collective Action concerning titles issued by the Greek State, with initially determined date of maturity in more than one year.” ΥΑ 2/25248/0023Α, ΦΕΚ Β’ 583, 13 March 2013.





IX - Fiscal Compact

The Fiscal Compact (Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union) was signed on March 2, 2012. Negotiations on this Treaty began between 26 member states of the EU (all but the UK) after the 8/9 December 2011 European Council. 25 contracting parties eventually decided to sign the Treaty (not the Czech Republic).       
After ratification by the twelfth Eurozone member state (Finland) in December 2012, the Fiscal Compact entered into force on 1 January 2013. For several contracting parties the ratification is still on-going.
(
http://www.european-council.europa.eu/eurozone-governance/treaty-on-stability?lang=it)

Negotiation
IX.1
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter in the negotiation of the Fiscal Compact, in particular in relation to the implications of the treaty for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law and the budgetary process.

No legal and political difficulties concerning the negotiation of the Fiscal Compact were encountered in Greece. The signing of this international treaty was practically debated in Parliament only during the ratification procedure.[1] Indeed, the signing of the Fiscal Compact coincided with discussions at the European level on the conditions of the agreement on the restructuring of the Greek debt with the participation of the private sector (P.S.I.) and of the new loan agreement for Greece. Thus, debates were focused on these matters, as well as the proposition of the German Minister of Finance for the setting of an economic commissioner for Greece. The signing of the Fiscal Compact by Greece was perceived and presented as necessary in order for the Greek State to avoid bankruptcy.[2] In the meeting they had the day before the agreement of the European leaders on the Fiscal Compact, the three political leaders supporting the technocrat government during the negotiations (PA.SO.K., N.D. and LA.O.S.) declared “absolute convergence” concerning the additional obligations and conditions set by the European partners. Thus, the Prime Minister participated in the negotiations following this position.[3] The former PA.SO.K. minister and independent deputy at the time of the ratification, Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, said that the Government has made a systematic effort to promote the interests of Greece, through propositions of amendments of the treaty. According to her, it is a success of the negotiations by the Government that in the Preamble of the Treaty there is a special provision concerning the respect of the role of social partners, even though some days later Commission and “troika” imposed the abdication of labor negotiations and labor law in Greece. Furthermore, the Government obtained the restriction of the role of ECJ to the implementation of the Fiscal Compact and not to its application. Finally, it is a success as well the fact that the Fiscal Compact does not alter the economic policy conditions of countries receiving financial assistance.[4]

Ratification
IX.2
How has the Fiscal Compact been ratified in Greece and on what legal basis/argumentation?

Things have been complicated as far as the ratification procedure is concerned, the debates for which took place during the campaign for the elections of the 6th May 2012. Greece was the first country to ratify the Fiscal Compact. The ratification of the Fiscal Compact was part of a more general draft bill, which also contained the amendment of the TFEU and the ratification of the ESM treaty. The bill ratifying the ESM treaty was drafted on March 15th, 2012 and was debated and voted in Parliament on March 28th, 2012.[5] It was voted in one day, with a majority of 194 deputies out of the 253 present voting in favor (total of deputies is 300). The deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the two parties of the government coalition at the time, voted in favor. The members of SY.RIZ.A., DIM.AR., LA.O.S., and DI.SY. voted against. It is interesting to note that LA.O.S. had participated in the government at the time of the decision of 9 December 2011 (the political decision leading to the 136 TFEU amendment and the Fiscal Compact).[6]

The statute was voted according to the regular parliamentary procedure of articles 70 f. of the Constitution. The constitutional basis invoked by the Government for the following of this procedure was article 28 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which states that “The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.[7] An interpretive statement added with the constitutional reform of 2001 declares that “Article 28 is the basis for the participation of the Country in the procedures of European integration.” The status of the Fiscal Compact has not been discussed concretely. However, the discussions during the parliamentary debates, give the impression that all the treaties ratified are considered as part of EU primary law, albeit binding only for the contracting Member-States. The article invoked by the Government as a basis for the ratification, however, does not specify the majority required for the vote of the statute ratifying the treaty.[8]

During the parliamentary debates, the deputies of the opposition accused the Government of hiding these treaties from Greek people, through the concise parliamentary procedure mobilized for their ratification. In general, especially the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. and LA.O.S., repeatedly criticized the functioning of the Parliament and the negligence to the parliamentary procedure and monitoring by the Government. In response, the deputies of PA.SO.K. claimed that they were “not acting in absentia of the Greek people because, by voting these treaties, [they were] supporting the basic choice of the Greek people, which is that the country remains in the Eurozone.”

More precisely, deputies from LA.O.S. objected that the statute in question, because of its crucial importance for Greece and for Europe in general, and because of the fact that it attributes constitutional competences concerning fiscal and budgetary policy to organs of international organizations, should be voted according to the procedure defined in paragraph 2 of article 28. According to this paragraph, “Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement.[9] (180/300). The members of LA.O.S. argued that it was the Fiscal Compact that imposed a qualified majority for ratification in order to enter into force. They argued that the treaties under ratification change the structure and the decision-making procedure inside the Eurozone, and thus they constitute a concession of constitutional competences to the Eurozone organs.[10] In any case, according to them, the Fiscal Compact and the ESM entail the concession of national sovereignty to international organizations. Thus, in order to preserve the validity of the voting procedure and to prove that the statute had been voted with the qualified majority required, they demanded the procedure of nominal vote, which was followed at the end.[11]

The members of SY.RIZ.A. rejected the competence of Parliament to amend the treaties of the European Union. Reiterating objections already raised during the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU (see question V.3),[12] they argued that the treaty amendment, the ESM, and especially the Fiscal Compact, because of the commitment for many decades of the national economic and fiscal policy –through the balanced budget rule- that it contained, entailed an amendment of the Constitution. Thus, a constitutional reform or a referendum was required, following the example of other European countries, like Ireland. In order to support the argument, the deputies invoked article 3 paragraph 2 of the Fiscal Compact. Thus, they invited the government to proceed to a referendum for the ratification of these provisions, or, at least, to wait for the elections, which were scheduled for the 6th of May. In any case, they argued that the government did not want to follow the special procedure of article 28 paragraph 2, even though it possessed the qualified majority needed, because it did not want to create a precedent for future voting procedures.[13] Mobilizing these arguments, the deputies of SY.RIZ.A. raised an objection of unconstitutionality before the Parliament, which was rejected by a raising vote, according to article 100 paragraph 2 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.[14]

Finally, the deputies of DIM.AR. emphasized the fact that the majority required was the absolute majority of the total number of deputies (151/300), according to paragraph 3 of article 28. According to this paragraph, “Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.[15] The deputies of DIM.AR. alleged that the paragraph 1, invoked by the government, was only concerning the place of international treaties in relation to domestic law and did not require a specific procedure for the ratification of European treaties, which have been always voted according to the third paragraph of this article. Indeed, according to them, the European Union is not an international organization but a union which they would like to be federal.[16]

The deputies of the governing parties (PA.SO.K. and N.D.) argued, however, that the Treaty amendment, the Fiscal Compact and the ESM do not expand the competences of the European Union. To support their argument they invoked the simplified procedure of Treaty revision followed.[17] In addition, the deputies of N.D. argued that European Union is not an international organization, according to the terms of article 28 paragraph 2 of the Greek Constitution, but a sui generis state organization.[18]

The Greek constitutional scholarship has been divided on the subject.[19] Most scholars, however, before the Eurozone crisis, considered that for the ratification of European Treaties and their amendments in general (and not with the simplified procedure followed), the Constitution requires a combined application of the procedural conditions of paragraph 2 and the substantial conditions of paragraph 3. Nevertheless, they emphasized that “the solution will not become definitive, until the broad until now parliamentary majority for the support of the European course of the country breaks.”[20]

Ratification difficulties           
IX.3
What political/legal difficulties did Greece encounter during the ratification of the Fiscal Compact?

Despite the virulent criticism that the Fiscal Compact provoked from the part of the opposition, there were no major difficulties during its ratification, because of the broad parliamentary majority that supported the Government at the time. The legal statute ratifying the Compact, as well as the amendment of article 136 TFEU and the ESM Treaty, was voted in one day, with a majority of 194 deputies out of the 253 present voting in favor (total of deputies is 300). The deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the two parties of the government coalition at the time, voted in favor. The members of K.K.E., SY.RIZ.A., DIM.AR., LA.O.S., and DI.SY. (a center-right party, which was principally formed by seceded members of N.D. and  which supported the latter in the elections of June 2012) voted against.[21] It is interesting to note that LA.O.S. had participated in the Government at the time of the decision of 9 December 2011 (the political decision leading to the 136 TFEU amendment and the Fiscal Compact).

According to the deputies of PA.SO.K. and N.D., the institutionalization of the ESM is an extremely positive development for Greece, even though the conditionality of the application of the ESM Treaty, which presupposes the ratification of the Fiscal Compact, is very strict. The deputies supporting the Government defend that there is a need for economic stability in Europe. Moreover, claiming that Greece will be autonomous only if it does not need to borrow money, they maintain that there is no other way but to ratify the Fiscal Compact. Finally, they admit that Europe is oriented to neoliberal policies and they express hopes that, in case the socialist Hollande wins the French elections, together with other politicians, they will work in order to change this. They emphasize the need for growth in the EU and especially in countries struck by the financial crisis and they criticize the one-sided character of the treaty ratified, focused only on competitiveness.

The Government has also been accused by the opposition parties of hiding the conventions ratified from the Greek people, through the mobilization of opaque procedures. A deputy of the majority responded that “[they] are not acting in absentia of the Greek people because, by voting these treaties, we are supporting the basic choice of the Greek people, which is that the country remains in the Eurozone.”[22]

The Communist Party (K.K.E.) claimed that the treaties under ratification showed the real face of the EU, which is an imperialist organization, against labor and social rights. In response to other parties’ claims on the unconstitutionality of the parliamentary procedure, they defended that the matter is not procedural and that inside the EU there is no possibility of democracy. They emphasized that the treaties ratified are limiting national sovereignty for the benefit of an imperialist organization and that there is no possibility of renegotiation of the Euro-crisis measures; instead, there is a need to exit the Eurozone and the EU, because the crisis is a crisis of capitalism. Concerning the Fiscal Compact in particular, they see it as a continuation of the Maastricht Treaty. They claimed that, at the end, the Fiscal Compact, because of the asymmetry in the EU, benefits strong Germany and serves the capital against the working class. Indeed, the balanced budget rule will lead to the cut of expenses for salaries and pensions, health, education, social security, and infrastructures, in order to save money, which will be used for the profit of business groups and monopolies. The growth for which the Government parties are fighting cannot undo the infringement of labor rights. The Fiscal Compact focuses on competitiveness, and even imposes sanctions to countries with financial difficulties. Thus, it leads to a multi-speed European Union, according to the economic power and interests of each Member State.

The deputies of LA.O.S criticized the time-consuming action of the EU, and expressed their hope that the socialist François Hollande will renegotiate the treaties under ratification, in order for them to contain growth provisions. Concerning the Fiscal Compact in particular, they observe that it is closely connected to the ESM, but that it is impossible for the Greek State to comply with its provisions. Moreover, using a terminology evoking the Second World War, they claim that the Fiscal Compact raises sovereignty problems and provokes an “abdication of the Ministry of Economics”, [23] in the profit of Germany.

According to SY.RIZ.A., the ESM Treaty, together with the Fiscal Compact, demonstrate the commitment of the Greek Government to the neoliberal policy of Germany, which leads inevitably to economic decline. The Fiscal Compact and the ESM are equivalent to the submission of the country to a controlled default, under conditions which benefit only the creditors and Germany. Indeed, an eventual uncontrolled default would have an immense cost for the European North. SY.RIZ.A. observes that the Fiscal Compact sets asphyxiating, unrealistic goals, which demonstrate the focus of the EU on competitiveness through austerity. They emphasize that, if Europe does not change its policy in order to obtain growth, it will be divided. Finally, they criticize the incoherence of the position of the Government, who is voting a treaty that it would like to see changed some time later, under the influence of the French socialists.

The deputies of DIM.AR. hold a rather moderate position, accepting the ESM and the amendment of article 136 TFEU, but not the conditionality which complements it, that is, austerity and budgetary discipline. They accuse the Government of not negotiating for the profit of Greek people. They criticize the unrealistic character of the goals set by the Fiscal Compact, observing that even Germany was not respecting them under the previous treaties. They emphasize the need for a change of policy in the EU, with the complementation of the provisions concerning fiscal discipline, which they consider necessary, with provisions for growth, given that the Greek people cannot stand any more austerity. They express the hope that things will change after François Hollande wins the elections in France. Moreover, they express their hopes for a political and social union.

Balanced Budget Rule    
IX.4
Article 3(2) Fiscal Compact prescribes that the Balanced Budget Rules shall take effect in national law through “provisions of binding force and permanent character, preferably constitutional, or otherwise guaranteed to be fully respected and adhered to throughout the national budgetary processes.” How is the Balanced Budget Rule (intended to be) implemented in Greece? Will there be an amendment of the constitution? If not, describe the relation between the law implementing the Balanced Budget Rule and the constitution. If the constitution already contained a Balanced Budget Rule, describe the possible changes made/required, if any.

The Fiscal Compact and the Balanced Budget Rule that it contains have been ratified by a legal statute, which entered into force the 30th of March 2012 and implements them into the Greek legal order.[24] Even though there is a conversation and many propositions by almost all parties for a constitutional amendment in Greece, none of these discussions mentions the inclusion of the Balanced Budget Rule in the Constitution. According to article 28 paragraph 1 of the Greek Constitution, The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.[25] An interpretive statement added with the constitutional reform of 2001 declares that “Article 28 is the basis for the participation of the Country in the procedures of European integration.” The status of the Fiscal Compact has not been discussed concretely during the parliamentary debates. However, the discussions give the impression that all the treaties ratified with the legal statute under consideration were considered as part of EU primary law, albeit binding only for the contracting Member-States. Thus, the relationship between the law implementing the Fiscal Compact and the Balanced Budget Rule and the Constitution raises the well-known debate in the Greek legal doctrine on the possibility of “tacit” or “opaque” constitutional amendment via the provisions of article 28 of the Constitution, deviating from the formal procedure required by article 110. The majority of scholars accepts the possibility of such an amendment, contrary to the traditional dualist doctrine.[26] However, the subject was not discussed during the parliamentary debates on the ratification of the Fiscal Compact.

Nevertheless, things are even more complicated as far as the concrete legal statute is concerned. That is because, even if we accept that a “tacit” amendment of the Constitution is possible, this amendment should be normally done according to the procedure of paragraphs 2 and 3 of article 28, as it is only these paragraphs that are conferred a function of amendment of the Constitution.[27] These paragraphs declare: “2. Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations, when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law sanctioning the treaty or agreement. 3. Greece shall freely proceed by law passed by an absolute majority of the total number of Members of Parliament to limit the exercise of national sovereignty, insofar as this is dictated by an important national interest, does not infringe upon the rights of man and the foundations of democratic government and is effected on the basis of the principles of equality and under the condition of reciprocity.”[28] However, the Government, in the ratification procedure of Legal Statute 4063/2012 invoked only the first paragraph of article 28, which does not prescribe any parliamentary majority. The statute was finally voted under the normal parliamentary procedure of articles 70 f. of the Constitution.[29]

According to Petros Stagkos, Professor of European Law, with the ratification of the Fiscal Compact, Parliament has not amended tacitly the Constitution, because it did not follow the required procedure. Instead, the State has assumed the supra-national responsibility to amend the Constitution, in order to comply with the Balanced Budget Rule and the concession to the ECJ of the constitutional competency of scrutinizing its implementation. The author defends that the Greek State does not have the possibility to implement the Balanced Budget Rule via a normal legal statute, as this possibility is only open to States that recognize a supra-legislative force to the law approving the national budget.[30] In the same order of thought are the observations of Panagiotis Mantzoufas, Professor of Constitutional Law, who, nevertheless, raises the question of the compatibility with the Constitution of a legal statute that imposes the obligation to amend it.[31]

In any case, it is important to note that there is no constitutional court, and even more, no constitutional court with the competency to monitor the constitutionality of the procedure of constitutional amendments in Greece. Thus, as Lina Papadopoulou neatly put it, it is the “normative power of the facts themselves” that prevails.[32]  The supranational obligations of Greece to respect the Balanced Budget Rule and the tight fiscal surveillance by the European partners prove more effective than any formal amendment of the Constitution would be, even if we accept that it is politically possible.[33]

Statute 4270/2014 established the obligation to set MTO, according to the rules set out in the consolidated Regulation No 1466/97 and according to article 3 of the Fiscal Compact.[34] This statute has the status of ordinary law.

Debate Balanced Budget Rule   
IX.5
Describe the national debate on the implementation of the Fiscal Compact/Balanced Budget Rule, in particular in relation to the implications of the treaty for (budgetary) sovereignty, constitutional law and the budgetary process.

The Balanced Budget Rule and, in general, fiscal discipline and austerity, have been presented from the beginning by the press as an obsession of the German Government. Debates on the substantial legal problems raised by the implementation of the Balanced Budget Rule and the Fiscal Compact at a supra-legislative level, mainly took place during the parliamentary session of the ratification of the Fiscal Compact, on the 28th of March 2012. During this procedure, the parties of the opposition (mainly LA.O.S., SY.RIZ.A., DIM.AR., and K.K.E.) objected that the Fiscal Compact binds the economic policy of the Government for decades, and puts at stake the national sovereignty. This was one of the reasons for which they demanded the following of a special procedure with a qualified majority for the ratification of the Treaty. The parties of the opposition also alleged that, by imposing balanced and exceeding budgets and sanctions in case of noncompliance, the Fiscal Compact was imposing neoliberal policies which entail austerity, infringement of labor and social rights, and cuts on public services, for the profit of business groups and the capital in general. The Government, invoking the employment of the simplified procedure of Treaty revision at the European level (which proves that the competences of the Union are not extended) responded that the Fiscal Compact does not further restrict national sovereignty and that it does not extend the competences of the European institutions.[35]

The implementation of the Fiscal Compact and of the Balanced Budget Rule has not been further discussed in following parliamentary debates. This can be explained by the fact that Greece had already assumed the international obligation of fiscal discipline before the signing of the Fiscal Compact, in the Memoranda of Understanding determining the conditions of the loan agreements to Greece, as well as in the Medium term budgetary frameworks required according to the Stability and Growth Pact. Besides, the Preamble of the Fiscal Compact stipulates that the Treaty does not alter the obligations of countries receiving financial assistance, according to the stabilization programs of each.[36] The only additional element brought by the Fiscal Compact provisions, and criticized by the opposition, is the fact that it imposes policies of balanced or exceeding budgets at a constitutional level, thus binding future parliamentary majorities on the long term.[37] Therefore, in the parliamentary debates, but also in the public discussions, it is usually the Memoranda of Understanding and implementing laws that are perceived as imposing fiscal discipline and restricting the economic sovereignty of the Greek State.

As far as it concerns fiscal discipline and stability in general, Government officials and deputies supporting the Government emphasize that it is the only solution in order for the State to remain in the Eurozone and to respect its international obligations, to preserve its sovereignty and to obtain competitiveness and economic growth.[38]

Despite the lack of interest by the political world, the implementation of the Balanced Budget Rule at a constitutional level has provoked an interesting academic debate.[39] There are some members of the doctrine who defend the implementation of the “golden rule” in the Greek Constitution as the only way for Greece to respect its international obligations and to obtain a “fiscal civilization” that would counter populist and clientelist practices of the political world.[40] Nevertheless, most scholars reject the inclusion of such a rule in the Greek Constitution in particular, even though they do not reject its opportunity in general. The main arguments advanced are that the adoption of the Balanced Budget Rule is a purely political choice of economic governance that neglects the asymmetries and inequalities within the Eurozone and the European Union, and limits the sovereignty of the Member States and the margin of manoeuver of the democratically elected parliamentary majorities. Most scholars stress that the rigid respect of such a rule is difficult and sometimes even inopportune, especially in times of economic crises, and would thus undermine the normative power of the Constitution. The Balanced Budget Rule is equivalent to the imposition of a specific model of economic governance and symbolizes the prevalence of economics over politics. Moreover, scholars express their fear that such a rule would constitute a constitutional base for the restriction of fundamental rights, and especially social rights, and would excessively extend the powers of the technocrat executive. Some scholars defend that the insertion of this rule in the Constitution would thus lead to an amendment of principles concerning the foundations and the form of the polity, which is forbidden by article 110 paragraph 1 of the Constitution.[41] Finally, certain members of the doctrine underline that the adoption of such a rule via constitutional amendment would be impossible under the current political situation in Greece, provided that a qualified majority in parliament is required for such an amendment.[42] It would be unnecessary as well, given that fiscal discipline is de facto imposed, without a constitutional change. Besides, such a change would add nothing to the justiciability of the Balanced Budget Rule, because of the absence of constitutional court in Greece.[43]

Relationship BBR and MTO  
IX.6
What positions, if any, are taken in the national debate about the relationship between the Balanced Budget Rule of article 3(1)(b) Fiscal Compact and the Medium-term Budgetary Objective (MTO) rule in the Six-Pack (section 1A, article 2a Regulation 1466/97, on which see above question VII.10)?

There is no important national debate about the relationship between the Balanced Budget Rule of article 3(1)(b) Fiscal Compact and the Medium-term Budgetary Objective (MTO) rule in the Six-Pack (section 1A, article 2a Regulation 1466/97).[44] Actually, article 14 of statute 4270/2014, implementing the “six-pack” rules, defines the MTO as synonymous to the rules set out in article 3 paragraph 1 of the Fiscal Compact.[45] During the debates for the implementation of the MTO, however, Tsakalotos, an MP of SY.RIZ.A. (at the time in the opposition) implied that the “golden rule” implemented in Spain, Portugal or Italy was less restrictive than the MTO: contrary to the MTO, the “golden rule” allows the states in question to spend in investments and education, which will later lead to the growth of the GDP, whereas the MTO does not take this factor into account.[46] 

Case law        
IX.7
Is there a (constitutional) court judgment on the Fiscal Compact/implementation of the Balanced Budget Rule?

No, there is no court judgment on the Fiscal Compact. Indeed, in Greece there is no general possibility to directly attack legal statutes before the court.[47] Instead, judicial review of the legislator is diffused among all jurisdictions of the civil and administrative order, and is finally concentrated in the Supreme Administrative and Judiciary Courts (Council of State – “Symvoulio tis Epikrateias” and Areios Pagos respectively). Each justiciable possessing a legitimate interest, in the occasion of a litigation before a judge, can raise an objection of unconstitutionality of a legal statute applied in the case, both in case this statute is applied directly, and in case it is the legal basis of another act. According to article 93 paragraph 4 of the Constitution, “The courts shall be bound not to apply a statute whose content is contrary to the Constitution.[48] Courts apply the same constitutional basis, in combination with article 28 paragraph 1, in order to monitor the compatibility with international conventions of ordinary law. Indeed, article 28 paragraph 1 declares: “The generally recognised rules of international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are sanctioned by statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the law. The rules of international law and of international conventions shall be applicable to aliens only under the condition of reciprocity.[49] The result of unconstitutionality/unconventionality is the non-application of the statute in the concrete case before the judge. Courts in general refuse to examine the respect of the rules of parliamentary procedure, which is considered interna corporis of the legislator.[50] In any case, given that the Fiscal Compact was ratified in 2012 and given the time-consuming character of Greek judicial procedures, there is no court judgment on the Fiscal Compact.

Non-Eurozone and binding force       
IX.8
Has Greece decided to be bound by parts of the Fiscal Compact on the basis of article 14(5) Fiscal Compact already before joining the Euro area, or has this option been debated?

Not applicable, since Greece is a Euro area member state.

Miscellaneous
IX.9
What other information is relevant with regard to Greece and the Fiscal Compact?

It is interesting to note that, according to the Preamble of the Fiscal Compact, “no provision of this Treaty is to be interpreted as altering in any way the economic policy conditions under which financial assistance has been granted to a Contracting Party in a stabilisation programme involving the European Union, its Member States or the International Monetary Fund;”

Concerning the European Commission proposal on the coordination of major economic policy reforms, it was discussed in the Greek Parliament together with the evolutions concerning the Banking Union, and the Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument. The Minister of Finance, on the 15th of May 2013, informed the Permanent Commission of Financial Affairs of the Parliament on the Eurogroup meeting where the Commission proposal was discussed.[51]

In this information meeting, the matters discussed concerned essentially the structural deficiencies of the EMU and of the EU. Namely, the parties of the opposition (SY.RIZ.A. and AN.EL.), as well as certain deputies of parties supporting the Government (N.D., PA.SO.K., and DIM.AR.) emphasized that the extended competences of the European Commission on the economic policy of Member States raise the problem of its democratic deficit. Many deputies of the opposition exercised general criticism to the structure and the inertia of EU and EMU institutions. They emphasized that the new propositions, together with the strict financial policy imposed by the Eurozone partners in general, degraded the role of national parliaments. According to them, this lack of political union makes any effort of coordination ineffective. Moreover, they claimed that further convergence in economic policy would be in contrast with the important economic and social differences characterizing the various Member States. They objected that any further union between Eurozone Member States would be one-dimensional, and would undermine the equality between States, as it would neglect the needs of countries facing economic difficulties. They also criticized the focus on competitiveness and the absence of provisions on social cohesion and the environment.

The Minister of Finance admitted that EMU has important structural disadvantages, and that there is a need to change the one-sided emphasis of European leaders on competitiveness, in order to obtain a political union. He emphasized that in the discussions at the European level concerning this subject, the opinion of Greek officials is heard. [52]

[1] See the relevant question.

[2] See the blog http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/dimosionomiko-symfono-kai-esm-sto-epikentro-tis-synodoy-koryfis

[3] See the blog http://tvxs.gr/news/ellada/mprosta-stis-prosthetes-desmeyseis

[4] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030, esp. 8047.

[5] Legal Statute 4063/2012, ΦΕΚ Α’ 71, published on 30 March 2012.

[6] See the parliamentary debates of the 28th of March 2012, Πρακτικά Βουλής (Ολομέλεια), Συνεδρίαση ΡΙΣΤ’, Τετάρτη, 28 Μαρτίου 2012, 8004 available at http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/Praktika/Synedriaseis-Olomeleias?search=on&DateFrom=28%2F03%2F2012&DateTo=28%2F03%2F2012, 8030.

[7] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[8] Ibid. 8030.

[9] Source of translation: http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/f3c70a23-7696-49db-9148-f24dce6a27c8/001-156%20aggliko.pdf

[10] See the parliamentary debates, 8020, 8030, 8037, 8057.