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The European Commission has requested Greece to end its practice of requiring foreign workers benefiting from a Greek old-age pension to open and keep a bank account at the National Bank of Greece S.A. (NBG).
This practice puts migrant persons at a disadvantage compared to those residing in Greece as people living in another EU country may be forced to travel personally to Greece to open a bank account and therefore face additional travel and accommodation costs.
According to EU law, conditions which can be more easily fulfilled by national workers than by migrant workers constitute indirect discrimination and can affect a person’s decision to exercise their right to move freely within the Union.
The request to Greece takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures. Greece now has two months to inform the Commission of measures it has taken to comply with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Greece to the EU's Court of Justice.
The complainant, a German citizen, was obliged to open a bank account at the National Bank of Greece in order to have her Greek pension exported to her German bank account. In the Commission’s view, the obligation to maintain an account in a specific Member State is unnecessary and could be perceived as an obstacle to the free movement of capital and workers. By failing to remove this particular condition for the payment of an old-age pension to a person residing in another Member State, the Greek authorities are in breach of their obligations EU law to not discriminate, directly or indirectly, against migrant workers.
Photo: © Marina Dyakonova, under license of Shutterstock.com