The Council of State (CoS), the country’s highest administrative court, ruled on Tuesday that a ministerial decision allowing stores to open on 20 Sundays a year, from May to October, is not in violation of the Greek Constitution.
The ruling goes against one in 2017 by a CoS plenary session that had declared Sunday openings as unconstitutional on the grounds that employees and workers have the right to free time during the week.
On Tuesday, however, the court ruled – with a narrow majority of one judge – that the current situation is constitutional as it only refers to several Sundays a year in specific parts of the country with high tourist flows. The decision, which is irreversible, could also, eventually, lead to legislation stipulating more stores opening on Sundays in more areas.
It was lauded by business circles who stressed, however, that the next step for the government should be to reconsider which areas will be allowed to have Sunday opening hours.
The initial decision was signed in 2017 by then economy minister Dimitris Papadimitriou after negotiations with Greece’s creditors – with the International Monetary Fund at the forefront of demands to allow Sunday shopping.
It was challenged by Greece’s federations of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) and Private Employees (OIYE).
On the other hand, it has received the backing of the Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the Retail Business Association (SELPE), the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) and the Competition Commission.