It’s time to talk about the National Pension

The public debate that has recently started regarding pensions, based on a proposed bill by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs: “Social Reform and Digital Transformation of the National Social Security Agency (e-EFKA)”, which is scheduled to be voted today February 27, expresses little concern on a chronic problem regarding the retirement of immigrants and Greeks of immigrant origin who have lived and worked in Greece for years. 

According to the current legislation (Law 4387/2016) immigrants, as well as Greek citizens, must have completed at least 20 years of insurance and 40 years of permanent and legal residence in order to receive the full amount of the national pension (384 euro). Those who are unable to prove 40 years of permanent residence receive a reduced pension of 1/40 for each missing year. Permanent and legal residence for citizens of countries outside the European Union is demonstrated by residence permits. As is known, the first coordinated and structured legalization process began in 1998 in accordance with Presidential Decrees 358/1997 and 359/1997. Therefore, a large proportion of citizens from countries outside the European Union as well as naturalized Greek citizens are unable to prove 40 years of legal and permanent residence. 

Regarding this issue, Generation 2.0 RED filed a report to the Greek Ombudsman in August 2019. In the letter that was sent to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs on 21 January  2020 as well as in the official reply that we received on 5 February 2020, the Ombudsman concludes that “the criterion of years of residence is foreign to the Greek insurance system” because “the calculation of benefits based on the years of insurance was and remains an essential element of its architecture”. In addition, the Ombudsman states that the examination of 40 years of residence in Greece for the grant of the full national pension in practice requests of applicants to prove the impossible therefore the gaps in legislation during the 1990’s should be taken into account. The reduction in the national pension based on years of residence leads to very low pensions and at the same time to very large inequalities between insured persons with the same insurance period and the same pensionable earnings. 

The inability to prove 40 years of residence in Greece is an issue that also affects the co-ethnic Greeks from Albania, as until 1998, the year of publication of the Ministerial Decision stipulating the Special Co-Ethnic Greek Identity Card (SCEGC) as a residence and work title, co-ethnic Greeks had no possibility to arrange their stay and work in the country. The Northern Epirus Delegation had received a written commitment from Mr. Mitsotakis in May 2019 to abolish the regulation that deprives them of a full national pension. However, due to the non-compliance with this commitment, co-ethnic during the last days held demonstrations as a sign of protest. On February 13, a question was addressed to the Minister of Labor by a KKE member, Mr Katsotis, on the abolition of this discrimination on the basis of residence.

Is it not perhaps time to talk about the national pension, and especially in the light of equal treatment, a principle which is at stake? In the end, why do people receive a reduced national pension when they meet the necessary qualifications, such as years of insurance and age, and who have paid all compulsory social insurance contributions during their employment?