- Already a country of immigration since the 1970s, 7.3% of GR residents were born abroad (75% outside the EU)
- Employment rates in GR declined the most since the crisis/austerity and are now the lowest in the EU (only around 50%)
- Also during the crisis, GR experienced the highest rise and levels of anti-immigrant attitudes within the developed world, with only 41% saying GR is a welcoming place and >2/3 saying immigrants do not contribute economically or culturally
- While asylum and irregular arrivals are major issues for GR’s immigration system, new legal arrivals declined by 50% since the crisis and most legal residents in GR are long-settled as former labour and family migrants
- Government approach to immigration likely to change after 2012-2014 centre-right/left coalition replaced in 2015 by majority radical left in coalition with right-wing populists
- Rank: 27 out of 38
- MIPEX Score: 44
- LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY 55
- FAMILY REUNION 55
- EDUCATION 36
- HEALTH 27
- POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 30
- PERMANENT RESIDENCE 54
- ACCESS TO NATIONALITY 34
- ANTI-DISCRIMINATION 60
Changes in context
Key Common Statistics
|Country of net migration since:||% Non-EU citizens||% Foreign-born||% Non-EU of foreign-born||% Non-EU university-educated||% from low or medium-developed (HDI) country|
|UN 2010 data in 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013||Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013||Eurostat 2013|
Changes in policy
- +9 points overall in 2010 with just 3 Laws facilitating naturalisation, birthright citizenship and local voting rights: the greatest progress of any MIPEX country at the time
- -5 points overall in 2013: GR became the 1st country in recent history to take away the right to vote from immigrants, while repeal of birthright citizenship left large numbers of children born in GR without equal rights and even some without papers until 2014
- 2014 Immigration Code transposes EU laws in ways to make more flexible legal migration and residence system, including better access to self-employment and family reunion procedure (+2 overall)
- With crisis/austerity, general inaction and limited funds for integration; many civil society actors had to turn their attention from improving integration outcomes to recording and fighting extreme right racist violence
- Law 4285/2014 in response improves protections against hate speech and racist crimes (+1 overall)
Conclusions and recommendations
The recession and austerity exacerbated structural problems within GR social and integration policies. Its rigid labour market reacted to the global crisis with some of the developed world’s weakest social benefits and largest cuts in mainly private sector jobs, general wages and job quality, especially for vulnerable groups like non-EU immigrants. Few had secured permanent residence and equal rights under GR’s rigid and restrictive residence policies, which were slow to respond while many who lost their jobs also lost their legal status and basic social entitlements. In the health sector, further limits and discretion in available services and even higher out-of-pocket payments led more people, especially vulnerable groups with weak entitlements like non-EU migrants, to develop unmet health needs due to costs, waiting lists and access. GR’s small-scale investments and infrastructure on integration were severely cut in terms of language and vocational trainings, intercultural schools and support for immigrant civil society. Moreover, the anti-immigrant minority grew, as did the extreme-right (from 0.3% in parliamentary elections in 2009 to 7% in 2012 and 6.3% in 2015), both attempting to block reform of GR’s traditionally exclusive and ethno-nationalist policies on citizenship, voting rights and discrimination.
By the end of 2014, GR ranked 27th out of the 38 MIPEX countries, alongside countries with smaller, newer and more homogenous immigrant communities than GR (e.g. JP, SI, HR, HU). Long-term improvements in GR’s economic, social and political prospects would certainly improve GR and non-EU citizens’ societal outcomes – and make it easier to work on integration. Much can, has been and must be done within the current context to fix the residence, citizenship and anti-discrimination policies for GR’s now long-settled immigrant population. The needs for integration are greater now more than ever and are more visible both to the GR public and international community. Any solutions must rely on limited administrative capacity and significant political will.
The new 2015 SYRIZA government promised a more humane and rational migration policy as part of its social policies. A prospective MIPEX assessment using the 2014 GR data suggests that legal reforms in the several MIPEX areas would substantially improve the conditions for integration, bring GR up to the European average and put local communities on the 1st steps to becoming stable and welcoming, as in IT and ES.
POLICIES - SUMMARY
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POLICIES - DETAILS
Labour Market Mobility
Equal legal access without any targeted support makes the bad GR labour market even worse for various low- and high-educated legal non-EU residents, who are less likely than GR citizens or immigrants elsewhere to access education or training, unemployment benefits, qualified jobs or a living wage
How many immigrants could be employed?
The need is great for more ambitious employment programmes for particularly vulnerable groups in GR, including immigrants, similar to the situation in other Southern European countries. More than 40% of working-age non-EU citizens not in employment, education or training, according to 2011/2 estimates. These levels are almost as high in ES. Many types of immigrant workers and families are affected. In GR as in several countries, these levels are considerably higher for women, up to 1/2 of low-educated women. 'Brain waste' is also a severe problem in GR, even pushing high-educated people out of the labour market. Only in GR and CY are high-educated men more likely than the low-educated to be outside employment, education and training.
Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?
GR guarantees legal non-EU residents with equal access to the labour market, education, training, study grants and social rights, with a few exceptions. 2014's New Migration Code simplified and reorganised the permits granting access to the GR labour market, with greater opportunities for entrepreneurs (+5 points in this area).
Besides providing access to employment, education and training, GR policies have completely ignored the specific employment problems facing newcomers and the foreign-trained. Immigrants receive almost no additional support to get oriented, trained or recognised in their field of work. This lack of targeted support was the case before and after the crisis. This approach is relatively weak, even compared to other recent destinations undergoing austerity.
Looking ahead, proposals for a more flexible work permit system would provide slightly favourable labour market access for migrants with the right to work in GR. The country could also start to offer targeted support for labour market integration through ‘one-stop services’ providing information and referrals on workers’ rights, the public employment service, the recognition of foreign qualifications and skills (for the most-recognised best practice, see the largely EU-funded CNAI in Portugal).
Dimension 1: Access to labour market
- Following the 2014 New Migration Code (+30), non-EU citizens should have slightly favourable access to the labour market and, now, self-employment
- In contrast, immigrants enjoy slightly greater access in several other recent destinations, including in Southern Europe (BG, CZ, IT, PT, ES)
- Under the Code, non-EU citizens renewing their 1st permit receive a permit for employment or entrepreneurs, with clearer conditions on setting up a business in GR
- This simpler system benefits several categories of immigrants, though migrant workers can only become entrepreneurs after becoming long-term residents (see instead immediate in 10, e.g. BG, HU, IT, PL, PT, ES)
- GR is 1 of only 9 countries restricting non-EU citizens' access to the public sector (similar to most in Central and Southeast Europe but unlike PT, ES, and recently IT), though the number of public sector jobs is small and shrinking
Dimension 2: Access to general support
- Non-EU citizens should enjoy equal access to education, training, study grants and employment services in GR, as in most Southern European countries
- Equal access is guaranteed under EU law to most general support
- Regularly residing non-EU citizens should also enjoy equal access to study grants (same in IT, PT, ES, TU)
- Non-EU immigrants with work experience may benefit from easier recognitions of their skills (EOPPEP created in 2011)
- The high-educated face complicated, uneven and uncertain procedures to recognise non-EU academic and professional qualifications (see instead recent efforts at facilitation in PT)
Dimension 3: Targeted support
- GR is 1 of only 3 countries (PL, SK) with no targeted job support to help low- or high-educated job-seekers to overcome their limited experience, knowledge and language skills (see instead PT, EE, Northwest Europe)
- Ad-hoc EU-funded language and professional trainings are not regular, accessible or adapted enough to reach the many non-EU immigrants in need
- Across Europe, immigrants usually receive targeted information on their rights and the various recognition procedures
- Most other forms of targeted support are very new and limited, often in response to immigrant employment statistics, but requiring political will
- Increasingly countries are putting available funding into more structural programmes including labour market integration (e.g. one-stop-shop advice and orientation services, job-specific or -based language courses, peer-to-peer mentoring programmes)
Dimension 4: Workers' rights
- Once migrants find jobs, they should enjoy the same social benefits, working conditions and access to unions as GR citizens
- Problems certainly arise in practice with the internal regulations and the renewal of permits
- One small gap in non-EU workers' rights is access to the now largely defunct housing financing schemes
Are immigrants acquiring new skills?
Non-EU adults are least likely to access education and training in GR (<3%) than in most other European countries, followed closely by other Central and Southeastern European countries (CY, IT, HU). What's more, only around 1/5 of unemployed working-age non-EU citizens were able to count on the support of unemployment benefits to help them find a new job.
What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?
- Lower and now lowest employment rates in EU, with negative growth as in most Southern European countries
- Relatively rigid employment protection legislation, as across Southern Europe
- Majority of pre-crisis migrants worked legally or irregularly in GR, as across Southern Europe
- Limited opportunities to properly learn GR language before or after migration to GR
- Few non-EU-born obtain degrees in GR
Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?
While the employment and social situation is bad for GR citizens, in many ways it's worse for non-EU immigrants. Comparing the GR native-born and the non-EU-born living 10+ years in GR, low-educated immigrants are more likely to be working, but often working in poverty (43%). Similar trends are observed in nearby CY and IT. In contrast, high-educated immigrants are 25% likely to find jobs and 3 times more likely to work below the level of their qualifications. While overqualification is problem for immigrants in most labour markets in Southern Europe, GR has one of the largest gaps in overqualfication rates in Europe (alongside IT, LU). Both before and after the crisis, GR proposed hardly any targeted support to address these specific needs and situation of non-EU citizens on the GR labour market.
GR's small number of transnational families are less and less likely to reunite in GR after the crisis, due to its rigid residence rules and its disproportionate required incomes/fees, with GR ranking 28th out of 38
How many immigrants are potentially living in transnational couples?
The potential number of non-EU residents separated from their spouse/partner is similar in GR to many other European countries (e.g. AT, CZ, FR, IE, IT). According to 2011/2 estimates, 5.5% of non-EU citizen adults were likely to be living in an internationally separated couple, and thus one type of potential sponsors for family reunion.
How easily can immigrants reunite with family?
Separated non-EU families who want to reunite in GR face more restrictions and requirements than in 27 out of the 38 countries. In fact, many GR families would not pass these restrictive definitions of the family and disproportionate fees and income requirements because they do not reflect the reality of life and families in GR. The new Migration Code barely improved the procedure for family reunion (+2, see box). Instead more equitable conditions for GR families and separated non-EU families would GR in line with average practice in Europe, for example, by removing the 2-year delay (as in 14 countries), lowering the fees (as in 17) or income requirement (as in 22, e.g. done in PT due to the crisis). The 2014 European Commission guidelines on family reunion recommend a more flexible and proportionate approach based on EU law and court rulings.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- Ranking 32nd, GR delays and restricts eligibility for family reunion much more than most countries; the approach both discourages sponsors from investing in their integration and limits the prospects of integration for children and spouses
- Rigid residence requirements mean that sponsors must have two years of legal stay to become eligible for family reunion; in contrast, most other countries allow sponsors to apply immediately after obtaining their own permit (in 14 countries, e.g. PT, ES) or after 1 year (in 10 others)
- Immigration law does not recognise same-sex partners (unlike 26 countries, recently AT, FR, IE, MT, SI, US) or other long-term relationships (unlike 17)
- Non-EU adult children/parents are allowed for GR and EU citizens, but not for non-EU sponsors (unlike in 25 of the 38 countries, e.g. CZ, IT, PT, ES, TU)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- To reunite with their family, non-EU sponsors must submit proof that their housing is up-to-standard and must meet the potentially steep income requirements
- Applicants must be able to pay high fees by GR standards, anywhere from 150€, relatively average for the countries, up to 450€, the 2nd highest fee after FI among EU countries subject to EU law
Dimension 3: Security of status
- If authorities respect the procedure, families who meet the requirements should be somewhat secure that they can reunite in GR and remain as long as their sponsor
- Authorities are supposed to take a decision within 9-12m and weigh several personal/family circumstances in the applicant's favour, as required by EU law
- Their permit lasts as long as their sponsor's, as in 19 countries, mostly Southern and Western Europe
- The security of their family life should no longer depend on their sponsor's financial security, since the new Migration Code (+10, see box)
Dimension 4: Rights associated
- As in most countries, reuniting families enjoy near-equal rights as their sponsors
- Family members' path to an autonomous permit takes 5 years, or sooner for all children turning adults (since law 4251/2014) and for vulnerable families, under certain conditions
- Adult family members have the same right to work as their sponsor since 2009
- The social and housing benefits can create some gaps between reunited families and their sponsor
The New Migration Code (Law 4251/2014) removed the requirement for sponsors to prove their resources at every single permit renewal, with the aim to protect family unity in cases of financial insecurity. Front-line staff will need proper training to change their policy in practice.
Are families reuniting?
4,918 reunited with their non-EU sponsor in GR in 2013. The number of reuniting non-EU families has been on a sharp decline, decreasing from nearly 19,000 in 2008 to roughly between 13,000-8,000 during the period 2010-2012. These reuniting families come from the largest nationalities within GR's non-EU population: Majority from AL, with small percent from RU, UA, GA. Children are the most concerned by family reunion as they make up nearly 3/4 of all reuniting non-EU family members in GR. These numbers have decreased from 12,000-13,000 in 2008/9 to just 4,000-6,000 in 2012/3. The number of reuniting spouses has also declined from 5,000-6,000 in 2008/9 to just 1,000-2,000 in 2012/3 Women and girls made up nearly 2/3 of these reuniting spouses and children. Hardly any cases go through of reunion with other family members.
What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?
- Many pre-crisis migrants unlikely to return to their countries of origin, similar situation in GR as across Southern Europe
- Sizeable share of humanitarian migrants likely to need family reunion
- Most from developing countries and thus more likely to reunite
How often do immigrants reunite with family?
Non-EU families are less and less likely to reunite together in GR. Family reunion has been steadily declining and, as of 2013, lower than in nearly all European countries except CY, EE and IE. On average, only 1 family member arrives every year for every 100 non-EU residents in GR. While a family's choice and ability to reunite is determined by many personal and contextual factors, these low numbers are also clearly influenced by GR's restrictive family reunion policy.
GR, like other major new destinations, has weak targeted education policies that have not caught up with the now relatively large numbers of immigrant pupils and the need to teach all GR pupils about diversity and its benefits
How many pupils have immigrant parents?
Pupils with immigrant parents make up an important part of the school system in GR: 13% of 15-year-olds on par with the UK, according to 2012's PISA study. 1st generation born abroad make up 7.3% of all pupils. Unlike other recent destination countries, GR also has a relatively important number of 2nd generation pupils born in GR: 5.7%. 60% of these 1st/2nd generation pupils come from families not speaking GR at home.
Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?
GR's approach to immigration and diversity in the classroom offers weak support to address the needs and opportunities of the increasing number of pupils coming from immigrant families (13% of 15-year-olds in 2012). The GR approach ranks 21st, alongside ES, IT and FR. While all pupils regardless of status can access the education system, they may not receive enough high-quality courses to learn GR beyond their induction or learn their mother tongue/culture, with little other support on offer. Whether or not pupils are taught how to live and learn in a diverse society depends on whether the school decides to become an 'intercultural school'. GR’s rather peculiar institution of intercultural schools would need substantial improvements to not only target the specific needs of migrant pupils, but also open new opportunities and an intercultural education to all children in GR.
Dimension 1: Access
- Like most Western European countries, GR goes halfway to guarantee equal access to education for immigrant pupils; Pupils regardless of legal status are encouraged not to leave school, but the system does not try to guarantee equal access for immigrant pupils to all types of schools
- Only a few may end up in the small number of 'intercultural schools', established since 1996
- Teachers place newcomer pupils in the school and induction classes based on limited assessments of their learning abroad (see use of outside experts in FR, LU)
- All pupils, regardless of legal status, have access to the full education system (also as in FR, NL, ES)
- Immigrant pupils are not specifically supported to access or complete vocational or higher education (see traditional countries of immigration, Nordics, AT, PT)
Dimension 2: Targeting needs
- Most schools are not equipped to sufficiently address immigrant pupils' specific learning needs
- Ranked 30th out of 38, GR provides as much targeted support as mostly emigration countries with smaller numbers of newcomer foreign-language pupils (e.g. BG, HU, MT, PL)
- Immigrant parents choose their child's school and enrol them with little information and interpretation support (see instead FR, LU, PT, Nordics)
- Newcomer pupils only get enough intensive support to learn basic GR and function within the regular classroom
- These teachers are supposed to be trained and use quality teaching materials and be centrally monitored and evaluated (former ‘Institute of Education for Homogeneia and Intercultural Education' IPODE)
- Beyond this induction support, each pupil is not entitled to continuous support to attain academic fluency in GR or catch up academically with peers of their age (see instead 22 other countries)
Dimension 3: New opportunities
- GR education system has done relatively little to seize the new opportunities for learning and social integration, a weakness in most European countries
- As in most countries, immigrant pupils in GR are 'recommended' to be taught their mother tongue through 4 extracurricular hours-per-week if schools can find 7 pupils and 1 qualified teachers
- Schools can decide whether and how to teach about immigrants' cultures of origin (e.g. done in 'intercultural schools' for all immigrant and non-immigrant pupils)
- Revision of the ‘intercultural school’ model could avoid high-concentration schools and support the social integration of all pupils and parents, with and without an immigrant background (see BE, Nordics, DE, PT)
Dimension 4: Intercultural education
- Schools receive slightly weak support to make intercultural education a reality in all schools in GR, another weakness across Europe (see instead AU/CA/NZ, NL, NO, PT, UK)
- Countries like ES and UK make intercultural education a dedicated school subject, while BE, NL, PT and UK better integrate it into school materials and activities
- Schools are supposed to use an intercultural approach across all subjects and be monitored and evaluated on intercultural education (though Law 3966/2011 ordered an end to the monitoring body IPODE, running from 1996-2012)
Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?
One potential indicator of immigrant pupils' access to targeted support is their uptake of extra out-of-school literacy courses, which comes from the OECD's 2012 PISA survey. Around half of low-literacy 1st generation pupils in GR are benefiting from these extra courses. This drops to 1/3 for low-achieving 2nd generation immigrants.
What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?
- >50% of immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools in GR, more often than pupils with low-educated GR mothers
- 40% of 1st/2nd generation speak GR at home
- Few foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12
- Student-teacher ratios relatively low in GR and other Southern European countries
How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?
The majority of 1st and 2nd generation pupils with low-educated mothers end up lacking basic math proficiency, more so than non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers. Low math achievers make up around 50% of non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers and 62-83% of the 1st & 2nd generation in similar families. This is the largest share of low-achievers in mathematics in each group across all OECD countries. Given the high numbers for all pupils, the gap between immigrant and non-immigrant pupils does not seem large. Then again, no progress is observed from one generation to the next.
Undocumented migrants face some of the most exclusionary provisions on healthcare in GR, unlike legal migrants and asylum-seekers; for all migrant patients, healthcare services may be even harder to access than for many GR citizens, and less responsive to their needs
Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?
The crisis and austerity exacerbated structural problems within the GR health system, such as limited available services, very high out-of-pocket payments and the discretion of health professionals. As a result, the number of people with unmet health needs due to costs, waiting lists or access increased significantly during the crisis for GR-born, for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and especially for non-EU migrants.
Ranked 32nd out of 38, eligible migrant patients are confronted with health services that are less accessible than in most countries and are entirely non-responsive to their specific health needs and questions. Migrant health policies are under-developed in GR, much like others in Southeastern Europe and the Baltics. While several of these countries like GR currently have very limited means, they also have much smaller immigrant populations without the same health needs as in GR. Reviewing all the legal, administrative and reporting/sanction requirements, GR policies are most exclusionary for undocumented migrant patients, ranking 36th out of the 38 countries (see instead CY, IT, PT, ES). The only other countries excluding undocumented patients as strictly as GR are UK, HR (under review in new integration strategy) and DE (under review with 2015 declared year of migration and health). These provisions may come up for review in GR.
Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE.
Dimension 1: Entitlements
- Healthcare entitlements are relatively inclusive for legal migrants and asylum-seekers but exclusionary for undocumented migrants
- Legal migrants are entitled to equal healthcare coverage, depending on the conditions of their permit; problems renewing their permits can mean they lose their status and with it their healthcare entitlements
- Free hospitalisation and medical care for uninsured non-EU citizens is only available for a few groups such as humanitarian migrants, spouses of GR and EU citizens, and certain vulnerable groups
- Nevertheless, uninsured legal migrants may get free hospital (but not primary) care, based on the discretion of the doctor and hospital committee
- Free healthcare should also be available for asylum-seekers without sufficient financial means or insurance (rather inclusive provisions as in AT, CZ, RO), although obstacles to renewing their asylum cards can create obstacles to use the NHS
- Undocumented migrants are only entitled to free care in extreme emergencies and face additional conditions, documentation and discretion; even exempted groups (children, people with infectious diseases e.g. HIV) can face these problems in practice
Dimension 2: Access policies
- The few multilingual materials available on entitlements are not sufficient to reach most migrants or address all their problems accessing health services in the same way as GR citizens
- Access is weaker in GR than in 33 out of the 38 countries, tied with BG and LV and above only HR and SI
- Eligible migrants can only benefit from basic multilingual information about these entitlements (e.g. social insurance fund website in 7 languages)
- L. 4251/2014 on the Immigration Code confirms that healthcare providers can be disciplined and punished under the penal code for treating undocumented migrants beyond cases of emergencies and minors (contrast protections in e.g. FR, IT, PT, ES)
Dimension 3: Responsive services
- Healthcare services in GR have made no attempt to respond to migrant patients' specific health/access needs (only 9 other countries are entirely non-responsive, e.g. BG, TU)
- A near-majority of countries provide some sort of free interpretation services, diversity trainings for staff and mechanisms to involve migrants in designing and delivering information and services
Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change
- Authorities have taken hardly any action to help services become more accessible and responsive (see instead IT, MT, PT, ES)
- GR's level of inactivity ranks 30th alongside several countries facing economic difficulties; yet similar-scoring countries either have more inclusive and accessible services than GR (e.g. FR, LU) or much smaller immigrant populations than GR
- Some data and research are available to start developing migrant health policies
Without citizenship and electoral reform, immigration is turning GR into one of the most exclusive democracies in the developed world, with an estimated 5.6% of all adults disenfranchised, few others naturalised and most politically inactive
Who are disenfranchised from voting?
An estimated 500,000 non-EU adults (aged 15+) are disenfranchised in GR, according to 2014 data. That's roughly 5.6% of the population aged 15+, one of the highest levels of disenfranchisement among developed democracies, similar to AT, DE and IT.
Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?
In 2013, GR became the 1st country in recent history to take away the right to vote from non-EU immigrants (-9 points in this MIPEX area). GR's 2010 law had adopted policies that were average in the EU (e.g. local voting rights in 21 MIPEX countries). Immigrants had only started to know and use these rights in the 2012 elections, their 1st and only occasion to vote. Now, policies are slightly unfavourable for non-EU citizens to participate in democratic life in GR, ranked 24th alongside CY, MT, AT and JP.
Dimension 1: Electoral rights
- Non-EU residents were granted active and passive voting rights in 2010, able to vote in only local election that year and then disenfranchised in 2013 (see box)
- Currently 21 MIPEX countries (including 15 EU countries) grant all foreign citizens the right to local elections, while 14 (including 11 EU) grant the right to stand in local elections
Dimension 2: Political liberties
- Non-EU citizens enjoy basic political liberties to form associations and join political parties in GR, as across Western Europe
Dimension 3: Consultative bodies
- Official migrant integration councils to consult immigrants are government-led and slightly weak in cities and missing at national level in GR (similar to AT, NL)
- Previously, national advisory committees on integration consulted experts, but not immigrant-led civil society (see instead PT, ES)
- Councils for Migrants' Integration were required in regional municipalities under Law 3852/2010; appointed members are supposed to inform mayors of immigrants' problems in the region, present proposals to tackle them and counsel immigrants in the regional municipal services
Dimension 4: Implementation policies
- Immigrant civil society in GR receive no regular information or support to become civically active
- So little support is only available in 9 other countries, all except CY with much smaller immigrant populations than GR
- Before 2013, the information policy was focused on 'get-out-the-vote' for the 2010 local elections
- Several Western European countries provide dedicated funding for immigrant civil society to actively inform immigrants and work on all issues of civic participation and consultation (e.g. PT's GATAI office)
Law 3838/2010 presented voting rights as the most effective form of active integration, fighting social exclusion and promoting local governance. These voting rights were rather limited in GR, similar to recently reforming countries: long-term residents and 10-year permit holders could vote in local elections, but only stand for some positions (excluding mayor or vice-mayor) if they demonstrated sufficient GR knowledge for the task.
How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?
Since 2013, 0% of non-EU citizens are enfranchised in GR elections. Unless voting rights are restored, naturalisation is the sole way for non-EU citizens to participate in GR democracy. However, an estimated 20% of non-EU-born had naturalised as GR citizens by 2012. Immigration without reform is turning GR into one of the most politically exclusive democracies in the developed world, together with other Southeastern European countries alongside countries such as DE, IT, CH and AT. Any future reforms must also facilitate the procedures and information for immigrants to use these new opportunities. For example, a reported 12762 foreign residents out of a potential electorate of 266,250 actually registered to vote for the November 2010 local elections.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?
- Generally low levels of civic engagement in GR
- Very few non-EU citizens in GR are university-educated and thus less likely to participate politically
- Sizeable number of humanitarian migrants in GR, potentially more likely to become civically active in the long-term
- Most now long-settled but still not yet naturalised as GR citizens
Are immigrants participating in political life?
The long-settled non-EU-born (10+ years' residence) are about 30% less likely to participate politically than GR-born people. Data collected throughout the 2000s (European Social Survey) suggests that 16% of the long-settled non-EU born have recently taken part in some civic act (through a political party, association, petition, demonstration or contacting a politician), compared to 23% of GR-born people, although no major gap emerges for the few university-educated non-EU immigrants.
Most restrictive requirements in the developed world create many ‘permanently temporary’ residents at risk of irregularity with a precarious legal status and at risk of social exclusion with limited socio-economic rights
Who can become long-term residents?
While GR is a 'transit' country and relatively 'recent' destination country, the vast majority of non-EU legal residents in GR have been settled there for 5+ years, one of the highest levels in Europe. An estimated 88% of male and female non-EU citizens have lived in GR for the required 5+ years to normally qualify for permanent residence, according to 2011/2 estimates. This is one of the highest levels of long-settled non-EU citizens in Europe (alongside AT, FR, IT, NL, ES, Baltics) and siginificantly higher than the rest of Southeastern Europe.
How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?
Non-EU residents settled 5+ years in GR face the most restrictive requirements to become long-term residents in the developed world, completely out-of-touch with integration and social realities in GR. Among countries subject to EU law, only immigrants in CY face requirements almost as demanding as GR's high costs, income calculations, poorly-supported integration assessment and recently-raised language level. These disproportionate requirements punish immigrants for GR's social and budget realities rather than recognise their real progress and long-term settlement.
Permanent residence needs to become a regular part of immigrants' integration in GR, as in e.g. ES, IT, SE, UK. A more flexible and realistic residence system can guarantee a clear right to national and EU long-term residence, based on the basic fee, language and income levels provided in the country. Campaigns can also inform and support immigrants to become EU long-term residents, as recommended by the European Commission in its 2011 application report.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- Relatively few temporary residents are completely ineligible to apply under slightly inclusive rules in GR, ranked 5th on eligibility alongside BG, LV, ES
- After 5 years, all but students can apply to become some type of permanent or long-term resident
- This list includes beneficiaries of subsidiary or temporary protection, asylum-seekers still awaiting a decision and holders of short-term permits (e.g. seasonal workers, commuters, artists, etc.)
Dimension 2: Conditions
- Many eligible non-EU citizens are likely deterred from becoming long-term or permanent residents by the most restrictive requirements in the developed world, with GR ranking last, just ahead of CY
- Immigrants will find it as, if not more, difficult to become a long-term resident as becoming a GR citizen
- Since 2014, immigrants will have to demonstrate even higher knowledge of the GR language in addition to its history and culture, all without enough guaranteed free courses; Migration Code raised the level from A2-to-B1
- Only 6 out of the 37 other countries set the benchmark for success so explicitly high (B1, e.g. AT, DE, EE, UK), and yet all provide more systematic language training than GR
- 2014 code confirms that applicants must be able to show a regular legal income at the level of the minimum wage + 10% per dependent family member, excluding any social assistance payments
- They must be able to pay the highest fees in Europe, from €300-900 for the 1st permit and €300-450 for a renewal, which works out to 1-2 months' income for the average non-EU adult in GR (vs. <160 euros in 20 countries)
- Unlike GR, most other countries just prove residents to have any basic legal income (26), basic language knowledge (8 A2, 2 A1 and 3 only course-attendance) without integration tests (23 with none)
Dimension 3: Security of status
- The security of an applicant's future status will depend on the permit (10-year vs. indefinite vs. EU 5-year)
- They can only lose this new status on a few limited grounds, but this also comes with the possibility of deportation
- For example, their time outside GR must be rather limited
- All permanent/long-term residents end up with a relatively secure status in FR, NO/SE, IT/PT/ES
Dimension 4: Rights Associated
- Permanent residents in GR should be able to work, study and live in GR with the same social and economic rights as GR citizens, just as in 29 other MIPEX countries
- EU long-term residents can also more freely work, study and live in other EU Member States
How many immigrants are long-term residents?
174,669 permanent residents were living in GR in 2013. This total figure includes several types of permanent/long-term permits, mostly the 10-year or indefinite duration. Nearly 2/3 are holders of the national 10-year-stay permit. An increasing number of non-EU citizens became national 10-year-stay residents, as newcomers began to meet the residence and other requirements. The numbers rose from 821 in 2007 to 34,296 in 2008 and 107,080 by 2012. This total figure also includes the small number of EU long-term residents with the right to live and work in other EU Member States. They numbered only 70 in 2008 and increased up to only 877 in 2012. Just from 2014-2015, they rose from 8,000-to-10,000.
What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?
- Residents with <1-year-permits potentially ineligible: majority in MT, PL and 12-25% in BG, CY, FI, HU, IE, NL, UK
- Most report 5+ years' residence in CY, NO, SE, though problems with renewals were common in GR
- Mostly humanitarian or family migrants unlikely to return to their country of origin
- Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation in countries like GR with restrictive naturalisation policies
How often do immigrants become long-term residents?
While the overwhelming majority of non-EU citizens have lived in GR for 5+ years, only around 1/4 had become long-term residents by 2013. This level falls far below the EU average (45%). GR has one of the widest gaps between the number of potential and actual long-term residents of all European countries, alongside CY, GR, NL, BG, DK.
The number of permanent residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence and citizenship. New countries of immigration with restrictive residence policies (e.g. CY, GR, IE, MT) allow for very few temporary residents to become long-term residents. This policy creates large numbers of 'permanently temporary' residents at risk of irregularity with a precarious legal status and at risk of social exclusion with limited socio-economic rights. Being denied EU long-term residence, they are also denied the chance to live and work in other EU countries like emigrating GR citizens.
In contrast to GR, settled non-EU immigrants are more likely to become EU/national long-term residents in countries with inclusive residence policies (e.g. IT, PT, ES and most of Central Europe) or quickly become citizens in countries with clear paths to naturalisation (e.g. BE, IE, PT, SE).
Access to Nationality
Repeal of citizenship reform goes against European trends and undermines naturalisation and integration gains in Greece
Who can become a citizen?
Greece has one of the highest shares of potential new citizens in Europe. An estimated 80% of non-EU citizens have lived there long enough to be eligible for citizenship, according to 2011/2 data. An estimated 200,000 are Greek-born children living without the citizenship of the country of their birth.
How easily can immigrants become citizens?
The repeal of most parts of Law 3838/2010 (see box) significantly undermined access to Greek citizenship for long-settled immigrants, especially the 2nd generation. The reform created a path to citizenship similar to most established countries of immigration in Europe, following reform trends on birthright citizenship. Since the repeal, immigrants and their Greek-born children again face one of the most restrictive naturalisation policies compared to the other major destinations in Northern and Southern Europe.
Dimension 1: Eligibility
- The 2010 Law's rules had been slightly favourable and similar to rules in most other major destinations
- Since 2013, eligibility for Greek citizenship is seriously restricted for ordinary immigrants, especially the 2nd generation, and well below the European average
- With the end of the transitional measures, now only long-term residents may apply after 7 (not 5) years' legal stay
- While these rules are average for Europe, immigrants in Greece face greater difficulties to document their legal stay than in other countries
- Since the repeal, children born or raised in Greece do not have the right to Greek citizenship, going against the trend in now 18 MIPEX countries, most recently CZ and DK
Dimension 2: Conditions
- The 1st and now 2nd generation face slightly unfavourable requirements that are highly discretionary, extremely expensive and poorly supported
- Few can prepare for the interview with the Citizenship Acquisition Commission, where they are questioned on all aspects of their linguistic, social and economic integration
- In contrast, half the MIPEX countries do not impose an economic or social integration test
- Moreover, GR citizenship remains one of the most expensive and least secure investments in Europe, at €700 for the 1st generation (€1,500 before 2010); That's the equivalent of nearly 2 months' income for the average non-EU adult in GR
Dimension 3: Security of status
- 1st and 2nd generation applicants are kept insecure by one of most discretionary procedures among all MIPEX countries
- They have no right to Greek citizenship on meeting the conditions (unlike in most Northern European countries, PT, ES and now PL)
- 2010's legal time limits are often not respected in practice, due to a lack of capacity and, after the repeal, legal clarity
- Despite the new right to a reasoned decision, the options for appeal remain weak and untested
- Successful applicants must be careful not to lose their new Greek citizenship for several vague reasons and become stateless, even after many years
Dimension 4: Dual nationality
- As another side-effect of the appeal, the 2nd generation no longer benefit from a facilitated path to dual nationality, unlike in most countries granting birthright citizenship (most recently DE)
Law 3838/2010 was presented as a ‘pressing national interest for security and social cohesion’, following NGO campaigns (‘Greek you are born AND you become’), recommendations from the Ombudsman and National Commission for Human Rights and a petition using MIPEX and drawing inspiration from DE reforms. The Council of State's 460/2013 decision removed this 2nd generation entitlement, arguing that citizenship is only acquired through Greek origins or a sovereign decision by the state. Discretionary naturalisation should occur at the end of the integration process for foreigners who show an 'original bond' to the Greek ethnic community.
Article 108 of the 2014 Migration Code did guarantee that 2nd generation youth would not lose their legal status at age 18. But the government did not create a new citizenship entitlement before the December 2014 snap call for elections.
The new government's 2015 Draft Law on citizenship develops a new rights-based procedure and focuses on only the 1.5 and 2nd generation, with around 150,000 expected to immediately benefit from GR citizenship if they meet the legal conditions: 1) children born in GR to parent(s) with 5+ years’ legal residence at birth and enrolled in GR primary school; 2) children born in GR to parent(s) with <5 years’ legal residence at birth and applying between age 10-20 and currently enrolled in GR school; 3) foreign-born children applying up to age 23 with 9 years’ compulsory education or 6 years’ secondary education; 4) adult graduates of GR technical colleges and universities applying 3 years after graduation.
How many immigrants are becoming citizens?
As a new country of immigration, Greece saw an increase in naturalisations from between 1,000-2,000 from 2004-2006 to around 16,000-17,000 from 2008-2012. The vast majority of these new citizens (86%) were not ordinary immigrants, but foreign nationals of Greek origins (homogeneis). Under the 2010 law, relatively few applied or naturalised, as procedures were backlogged with pre-2010 cases. 6,6058 immigrants became Greek citizens between 2010-2014. Before 2013, around 25,000 2nd generation children applied (45% through birth and 55% through schooling) and around 10,000 were naturalised.
What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?
- Most from less developed countries likely to naturalise
- Large share of 2nd generation without GR citizenship
- Rates higher among humanitarian or family migrants and long-settled labour migrants
How often do immigrants become citizens?
Only an estimated 20% of non-EU-born adults have become Greek citizens by 2011/2, one of the lowest levels of naturalisation in Europe. It is still less common for non-EU citizen men and women to become citizens in Greece (only 1.9 out of 100 in 2012) than in the average European country (3.4), including ES (2.9) and PT (6.4). Citizenship laws and procedures are the strongest factor determining the naturalisation outcomes for immigrant men and women from developing countries.
Non-reporting of discrimination cases is the norm across Europe and a greater problem in GR and across Southeastern Europe; GR's laws may too new, weak or poorly resourced to inform and support victims to take even the first step in the long road to justice
Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?
According to a 2012 Eurobarometer, around 2% of people in GR felt they had been discriminated against or harassed in the previous year based on their race/ethnic origin (1.7%) and/or religion/beliefs (1%).
Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?
GR's anti-discrimination laws only reached the MIPEX average in 2014 (+4 with law against hate speech and racist crimes and for greater role for equality NGOs in courts). GR's laws are relatively young (Law 3304/2005 literally transposing EU law is only a decade-old), while gaps remain in procedures and enforcement Furthermore, non-EU citizens are poorly protected from multiple and nationality discrimination in all areas of life, despite being a disadvantaged group disproportionately suffering from the crisis' social and economic effects. These weaknesses may mean that potential victims are poorly informed and supported to take even the first step in the long path to justice. MIPEX identifies clear gaps in GR's laws, procedures and policies based on international trends and best practice (e.g. nationality discrimination, racial profiling, class actions, equality body powers).
Dimension 1: Definitions
- Despite 2014's improvements (+8), the definitions in GR are only halfway favourable to fight discrimination, ranking 20th alongside 6 countries with gaps in definitions (e.g. CZ, IT, LT, CH)
- Under the Law 4285/2014, people inciting acts leading to discrimination, hatred or violence on various grounds can face prison time from 3 months to 3 years and a fine from 5,000-20,000 euros
- Unlike in 22 countries, non-EU citizens are not explicitly protected from nationality/citizenship discrimination, despite past recommendations from the Ombudsman
- Members of the public is not explicitly protected from racial profiling (see FR, UK, recently DE and HU) or multiple discrimination (see 8 other countries)
Dimension 2: Fields of application
- Everyone is generally protected against ethnic, racial and religious discrimination in all areas of life
- GR like only 10 other countries takes a 'minimum' horizontal' approach (like CY, CZ, MT, PL, ES), without greater protection for nationality discrimination in different areas of life (all areas covered in 16 countries)
Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms
- Victims have an increasing number of options to enforce their rights (e.g. +6 with Law 4285/2014)
- Potential victims may get help from NGOs and legal aid from the Ombudsman
- Victims bringing forward a case should be protected against victimisation and successful cases should lead to a wide range of sanctions
- NGOs could play a greater to intervene on behalf of victims, for example through class actions (now in 9 countries)
Dimension 4: Equality policies
- GR's policies go halfway to fight discrimination in courts and broadly in society
- alternative dispute mechanisms, public sector equality duties)
- The Ombudsman can provide victims with independent advice and investigations, as well as engage in proceedings on their behalf; the limits on equality bodies' powers include the exercise of quasi-judicial powers and the launching of proceedings in its own name (see stronger bodies in IE/UK, NL, SE, AU/CA/NZ/US)
- The public is supposed to be informed of discrimination and their rights through public campaigns and social dialogue
- New laws on equal treatment should be recommended on an annual basis by GR's Economic and Social Committee
- Increasingly countries have dedicated units on anti-discrimination and equality duties/clauses/labels (e.g. Nordics, AU, AT, BE, FR, CH, UK, US)
How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?
In 2013, the Greek Ombudsman received 42 complaints for racial/ethnic discrimination (17), Roma origin (18) and for religious discrimination (7). These numbers seem strikingly small in international comparison. While the Committee for Equal Treatment and the Labour Inspectorate also act as officially appointed Equality Bodies, no data was available.
What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases
- 36% of general public in GR know their rights as discrimination victims, similar to other Southern European countries
- Low levels of trust in police and justice system in GR
- Mostly newcomers not yet naturalised as GR citizens, thus less likely to report discrimination incidents
How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?
Hardly any complaints are made in GR compared to the number of people experiencing incidents of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination. Hardly any complaints seem to be made across Europe, especially in Southeastern countries, where relatively recent anti-discrimination laws and equality bodies are often weak and/or poorly resourced. What is clear is that most countries have not even taken the first steps to properly enforce and resource their anti-discrimination laws in order to guarantee the same access to justice for potential discrimination victims as they do for victims of other crimes and illegal acts.
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