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Parliamentary questions
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22 October 2018
Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-004119/2018

Law 4387/2016 aimed at ensuring the long-term fiscal sustainability of the pension system, which had been seriously compromised, by enhancing actuarial fairness, strengthening incentives to work in the formal economy and have longer working lives. It introduced a universal regime of old-age social protection, establishing a homogeneous set of rules for all workers. The new rules for survivors’ pensions provide greater protection to the more vulnerable individuals, such as widows and widowers older than 67 or with dependent children, or those unable to engage in gainful employment.

Regarding the fundamental rights issues raised by the Honourable Member, according to Article 51 (1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the provisions of the Charter are addressed to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. In the matter at hand, Law 4387/2016 as adopted does not implement Union law(1). Directive 2000/78/EC does not apply to payments made by state social security schemes(2).

The design and administration of survivor's pensions is a matter of national competence. Member States follow highly diverse approaches. The eligibility of a surviving spouse to a pension and its amount may depend on such conditions as age, incapacity for work or not remarrying, while some Member States do not provide any survivor's pension for spouses. The funding of pension systems through social security contributions does not prejudge the existence and eligibility conditions of survivor's pensions. More detailed information about survivor's pensions in Member States is available from the MISSOC database(3) or the 2015 Pension Adequacy Report(4).

(1)Law 4378/2016 was adopted in the context of the implementation of the stability support programme for Greece of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The ESM is not EU institution, and its acts fall outside the EU legal order.
(2)Article 3(3) of the directive.
(3)www.missoc.org, see Table VII ‘Survivors’
(4)The 2015 Pension Adequacy Report: current and future income adequacy in old age in the EU. Volume I, Section 3.4. Derived pension rights, p. 145. http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=738&langId=en&pubId=7828&visible=0

Last updated: 23 October 2018Legal notice