EC tells Greece to open jobs

July 30, 1999

The Greek government is facing stiff fines for failing to comply fully with a European Court of Justice ruling ordering it to abolish national discrimination restrictions that stop non-Greeks gaining posts at Greek universities.

If judges agree an application from the European Commission, Athens will have to pay daily recurring fines of ¤57,400 (Pounds 38,300) until it implements EU laws guaranteeing free movement of labour across Europe.

Under these rules, only jobs that involve the "exercise of public authority" can be reserved for nationals of a particular member state, including ministers, top civil servants and - in some cases - senior university staff.

But this exception does not apply to lecturers and because Greece has failed to draw up legislation naming the positions that are reserved for Greeks and those that are not, universities have refused to employ non-Greeks.

An EC official said that there had been problems at the University of Salonika and its music conservatory, where job applications from British and German applicants have been rejected.

This has led to complaints to the commission that Greece is breaking one of the founding principles of the European Union: that its citizens should be able to live and work in whatever EU country they choose. The official added: "This could happen anywhere in Greece, in Athens and elsewhere. These universities impose nationality conditions for all jobs."

The Greek government has already lost a European Court of Justice case over its failure to abolish nationality clauses for a variety of jobs in the public sector, including teachers, council workers, railway workers, postmen and telecommunications officials.

This led to it issuing a blanket ban on such discrimination. But because it has not published its permitted list of jobs reserved for Greeks, national discrimination is still a problem in universities.

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