Social security changes to affect Greek migrants


The planned amendment to the European Union directive on the coordination of member-states’ social security systems is likely to result in reduced access to social handouts such as unemployment and housing benefits for hundreds of thousands of Greeks as well as millions of EU citizens who seek employment opportunities in another member-state.

The European Commission and the European Parliament are discussing two interventions, concerning the coordination of social security systems and the promotion of a European personal pension program, creating a significantly different environment for the already vulnerable Greeks who emigrate.

The changes to European legislation being considered mainly concern four fields: the provision of long-term care, unemployment benefits, family benefits and economically inactive citizens’ access to financial handouts.

The two draft law initiatives are aimed at safeguarding the principle of free movement of workers within the EU and are of particular significance for Greece, which during its economic crisis has seen some 700,000 of its citizens leave to seek work in other EU states. More than a third of them – some 250,000 Greeks – are estimated to have remained permanently in their adopted countries, mainly Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and France. Notably, the pace of Greeks leaving the country has soared to 109,000 from 40,000 in 2009, with the outlook being for a further increase.