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General Presentation and Public's Sector Reforms in Greece

Auteur/Author : Stavros Tasiopoulos - Legal & Policy Adviser

I. General presentation - Greece

Official name: Hellenic Republic

A. Data on Greece 

Geographical size: 131 957 km²
Population:10 783 748 (2016)
Population as % of total EU: 2.1 % (2016)
Gross domestic product (GDP): € 175.888 billion (2016) 
Official EU language(s):Greek
Political system:parliamentary republic
EU member country since:1 January 1981
Seats in the European Parliament:21
Currency: Euro. Member of the eurozone since 1 January 2001
Schengen area member: Yes, Schengen Area member since 1 January 2000

For more information see data from Greece on World Factbook, provided by the CIA.

B. Political System

Greece is a presided parliamentary republic, in which the President of the Republic has more symbolic role and holds the competencies given by the Constitution for example the responsibility of signing and publishing the laws and is also the official representative of the State internationally.

The  Constitution of Greece was adopted in 1974 and has been revisioned in 1986, 2001, 2008 and now there is a lot of discussion for further amendments. It enshrines the principle of tripartion of the power among the legislative branch, the executive, and the judiciary, and every authorization of each body is described to it.

The Parliament has the power of legislation and also gives the power to the Government by providing a vote of acceptance. The Government has the responsibily of governing the State and the executive authorization of functioning the Ministries and the entire State, and is elected every four years with the same term. The judiciary branch consists on three levels the first, the second and the Higher Courts, and they are separated into Civil, Criminal and Administrative, and also with the Court of Audits that has the control on expenditures of the State.  (

Current political situation (August 2017)

The parliamentary early elections of September 2015 gave power to the coallition government led by Alexis Tsipras, whose party (SYRIZA) had also won the elections of January 2015.

Now the Government has the support of 154/300 members of the Parliament and is consisted of the left and central left wing Party of SYRIZA and the right wing party of ANEL. The current government has the responsibilities of running the 3rd economic adjustment programme for Greece (2015-2018) and is elected for Four years term as provided by the Constitution.

C. Greece’s Administrative Organization 

Greece is governed and administrated on two levels, the Central Administration and Local Administration. The Central Administration contains the Ministries and the ministerial agencies, services and the main public sector entities where the overall management operates, and Local Administration that contains regional and municipal authorities which performs the responsibilites provided by the Central Administration.

A recennt reform in the operating framework was made with the law 3851/2010 in which the Local Administration of Greece is divided into 13 regions and 325 municipalities, with a variety of responsibilities as authorized by the State. In this direction there has been provision for procedures of open and participatory government strengthening the voice of the citizens, that still remain partially used. 

A key point of the operation of Local Administration is the role of the Court of Auditors that does the control of the expenditures and the role of Decentralized Administration where the State does the administrative control of actions and decisions.

For more information about the regions and municipalities 

II. Greece’s Public Sector Reforms

The recent decade there is a lot of discussion in Greece, concerning the necessary fiscal and public sector reforms, that will help the country to overcome the financial crisis and improve the State's operation.

Following the financial assitance provided by the EU member-states and IMF, the European Commission launched in the summer of 2011 a program of Technical Assistance for Greece.

The aim was to support the necessary reforms as required by the economic adjustment programmes that Greece had agreed with its lenders, so the Task Force for Greece was established. 

Later on, efforts were made in order to implement structural reforms were made with the cooperation of the Technical Assistance. Focusing on the public administration reforms, steps of improvement were made regarding the operational cost and the functioning of public services and many more are yet to come for a modern State and effective public administration as a key for sustainable development.

According to these in 2013 the ADETIF, the French operator for international technical cooperation (EXPERTISE FRANCE since 2015), was given a contract by the EU in order to provide services for the Central Administration Reform. The contract was revisioned according the 3rd financial adjustment programme between Greece and ESM in July 2015, and its 3rd part ends in the middle of 2018.

The programme concering the public sector was specified in June 2016, when the European Commission decided the adoption of the work programme for operational technical assistance managed by the Commission on the request of the Hellenic Republic in the framework of the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and Cohesion Fund, serving as financing decision. 

A. Recent Reforms

Main Public Administration Reforms during the 1st economic adjustment programme that became fully operational in 2013

Registry of Public Servants and Single Payments Authority – 2010 (law 3845/2010, 4111/2013) 

Diavgeia – 2010 (law 3861/2010) and (law 4210/2013) institutional enhancement in 2013 

These laws established a new era in the public administration because for the first time the Greek State could have a specific knowledge about the number of the people that were payed from the State and the ammount of their wages. The target is that every public servant or a person employed by the State (public sector entities) is registered and if not, a payment transaction cannot be made.

The Diavgeia project is a well respected initiative that has made the State more transparent and accountable, by publishing in the internet all the decisions of the governmental and administrative authorities. The target is to reduce corruption and make the decisions more accessible to the citizens, by demanding the publicity of its decision with a specific Uploading Number, which if it is not published it will not have any legal power. 

B. Current or Planned Reforms

Public Sector Reforms for Effectiveness

Re-establishment of the Government Council of Reforms, responsible for the strategy and the control of the reforms in the Public Sector (December 2015)

Key laws passed from the Hellenic Parliament:

4325/2015 combatting bureaucracy and e-government measures

4354/2015 new wage system for public servants

4369/2016 evaluation system,

4440/2016 mobility of public servants

Measures set for the first time:

Institutional Memory – establishment of the position of Administrative Secretary in every Ministry (law4369/2016)

E-goal Setting – tool for setting targets and measuring for every service in the public sector – evaluation system (law 4369/2016) 

Target for Exchanging Documents from Service to Service online and digitally

interconnection of Tax , Identity, Insurance numbers (law 4325/2015)

Establishment of the National Council for Codification and Reform of Greek legislation - establishing the National Strategy, art 40, law 4369/2016 

Open Government Actions

According to the 3rd National Action Plan on Open Government 2016-2018 as submitted to the Open Government Partnership 2016-2018, there are pledges for making the public administration more accountable, transparent and effective.

Signed the Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – October 2015

Improvement to the Program of Diavgeia, publishing of all administrative decisions and acts, including every legal entity with access to public funding (including public legal bodies and NGOs)

Implementation of Digital Signature in every service and every level, obligatory digital exchange and preparation of documents with the use of digital signature to the entire public administration, proposed at the law 4440/2016 

First Time establishment of Social Control to the services provided, article 24, law 4369/2016, through Hearing of Citizens’ and Social Actors in every service 

Technical Assistance's  role during the 3rd Economic Adjustment programme 2015-2018

As described to the (Brussels, 21.6.2016 C(2016) 3835 final), decision of the European Commission, regarding the Technical Assistance in Greece for the period of 2015-2018, it consists on continuation of and in complementarity to the on-going project under implementation by Expertise France/AFETI in the areas of governance, HR management, transparency and accountability, change management and e-governance.

Also Expertise France will support the Ministry of Adinistrative Reconstruction to implement the  3-Year Strategy on Administrative Reform as required by the Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the European Stability Mechanism in July 2015.

Furthermore, technical assistance will include new areas of support not covered by the on-going project and notably access to law by citizens, modernisation of the Administrative Procedure Code and improvement of administrative services for users. 

Expected results:

1) Improvement of the inter-ministerial and public administration governance, deepening the optimisation of human resource management, strengthening transparency and accountability, development of sound e-governance for the State, finalisation of a change management process;

2) Facilitation of access to law by citizens including the codification of the main legislation (labour law excluded);

3) Modernisation of the Administrative Procedure Code;

4) Improvement of administrative services for users. 

About the evaluation of the Task Force in Greece and the new Technical Assistance Programme, see the references below:   

How to quote this paper:  Stavros Tasiopoulos, General Presentation and Public's Sector Reforms in Greece, IMODEV,

Stavros Tasiopoulos - Legal & Policy Adviser, Athens, Greece

Mr. Stavros Tasiopoulos PhD (c),  is a Legal and Policy Adviser, holder of three post-graduate degrees in the fields of Public Law and Policies (LLM), International & European Energy Law (LL.M) from Democritus University of Thrace, School of Law, and Environmental Governance & Sustainable Development (MSc) from Panteion University. Currently he is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Athens, Law School  (on a thesis about the interaction of human rights with economic development towards the SDGs), and also is a scientific collaborator at the University's think tank “In Deep Analysis”.
He is an independent legal and policy adviser, licensed member of the Athens Bar Association and has worked for the Greek Government – Ministry of Administrative Reform. He has represented Greece at the Public Governance Committee of the OECD (2015-2016) and has also edited the public sector commitments at Greece's 3rd National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership – OGP. He specializes in public policies for sustainable development, through legal and policy reforms and government innovation, based on the evidence-based approach and the tools of open and good governance. Also his research interests and expertise applies in environmental – energy law and policy connected with climate change, investments and human rights, providing legal and policy justification.
Having an honest academic and professional concern for sustainable development issues, he has participated in important conferences such as the World Government Summit and its Sustainable Development Goals in Action Initiative, in Dubai 2017 and also at the Open Government Summit, in Paris 2016. With concern for youth, community and development issues, he is since 2015 elected as the Secretary General of the Hellenic Association of Political Scientists (Organization in Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC) and since 2014 is an elected Municipal Councilor at Egaleo City, in the west suburbs of Athens.

CV - Stavros Tasiopoulos

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