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Brussels, 28 January 2010

Commission takes legal action against Greece on discriminatory pension age

The European Commission has today sent a "letter of formal notice" to Greece over the country's failure to take concrete measures following a Court of Justice of the European Union ruling last year on the pensionable age for civil servants (case C-559/07). The Court found that current Greek provisions, which include differences in the pensionable age for male and female civil servants, violate the principle of equal pay. The Commission has therefore initiated infringement proceedings.

"Equal pay for women and men is a founding principle of the EU," said Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Equal Opportunities. "It is now ten months since the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that current Greek provisions are discriminatory. Greece needs to bring its legislation into line with the Court's judgement as soon as possible," he added.

Equal pay for women and men is enshrined in Article 157 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In the context of occupational pensions it means that pensionable ages have to be the same for women and men.

On 26 March 2009, the Court of Justice ruled that Greece's civil and military service pension scheme, an occupational scheme established by Presidential Decree n° 166/2000 of 3rd July 2000, is discriminatory in that it applies different pensionable ages to women and men. In general, under the Greek scheme it is necessary to complete at least 25 years of service before being able to retire. However, female public servants and women working in military service are treated differently. For example, married women and women with children are allowed to retire earlier (than married men and men with children).

As Greece has not yet taken the necessary measures to comply with this judgment of the Court of Justice, the Commission has sent Greece a letter of formal notice as provided under Article 260 of the TFEU.


Infringement procedures consist of three steps. The first step is that the Member State receives a letter of formal notice and has two months to respond. In case further compliance with EU legislation is needed, the Commission sends a reasoned opinion. Again the Member State has two months to reply. If there is no satisfactory reply, the Commission can refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. It can also request that the Court impose a fine on the country concerned if it does not comply with the Court's ruling.

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