Challenge to austerity measures

A series of legal challenges against the austerity measures adopted by the government in the wake of an emergency loan agreement it signed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are due to begin next week, sources told Kathimerini. The first appeals are expected to be made over the next few days by the Athens Bar Association (ABA), the civil servants’ union ADEDY and a union representing retired public servants. ABA, which often provides legal advice to the government and public bodies, is expected to be the first to submit its case to the Council of State, probably on Tuesday. The president of the ABA, Dimitris Paxinos, said recently that the aim of the legal action was «to protect the fundamental rights of citizens and of social groups affected by the proposed reforms.» Sources said that the ABA’s appeal is not only going to challenge the legality of the government’s decision to cut wages and pensions but will also argue that the law which rubber-stamped the memorandum that Greece signed with the EU and IMF was unconstitutional. The provisions of the memorandum were approved by a simple majority vote in Parliament but the ABA will argue that a qualified majority of 180 of the 300 MPs was needed, as the agreement was what the Constitution refers to as an «international treaty.» The lawyers claim that any austerity measures based on this memorandum, such as the slashing of public servants’ wages as well as reductions in pension payments, are not legal. The association will also challenge the legality of the agreement for Greece to borrow 110 billion euros, as it was not approved by Parliament. The government has been bracing for legal challenges to the measures it was forced to take in order to qualify for the emergency loan. Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis is due to submit next month a bill that will allow any challenges to the measures or the EU-IMF memorandum itself to be fast-tracked through the courts so that the judicial system is not swamped by cases. Kastanidis has pledged that verdicts would be delivered within four months of the appeals being lodged.

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