Social Security Bilateral Agreements
Our country has concluded fourteen (14) Social Security Bilateral Agreements that are distinguished into:
a) eleven (11) standard Agreements
b) three (3) specific Agreements.
Α. Standard Agreements
- With Argentina:in force since 1-5-1988 ( 1602 O.G. Α’ 79/18-6-1986)
- With Australia:in force since 1.10.2008 ( 3677 O.G. Α’ 140/11.7.2008)
- With Venezuela: in force since 1-2-1995 (2259 O.G. Α’ 203/5-12-1994) *It is not implemented due to differences in connection forms
- With Brazil:in force since 1-9-1988 (1553 O.G. Α’ 98/24-5-1985)
- With USA: in force since 1-9-1994 (2186 O.G. Α’ 15/8-2-1994)
- With Canada:The revised Agreement is in force since 1-12-1997 (Law 2492 O.G. 83/τ.Α/16-5-1997)
- With Quebec:in force since 1-9-1983 (Law.1317 O.G. 4/τ.Α/11-1-1983). This Agreement has been replaced by the revised Agreement that was signed on 7.12.2004 in Quebec. (Law. 3476 O.G. 149/ τ.Α/19-7-2006) and was entered into force on 01.11.2010, based on article 46 (2) thereof
- With New Zealand:in force since 1-4-1994 (Law.2185 O.G. 14/τ.Α/8-2-1994)
- With Uruguay: in force since 1-3-1997 (Law.2258 O.G. 202/τ.Α/5-12-1994)
- With Serbia: in force since 1-3-2020 (Law.4645 O.G. 198/τ.Α/9-12-2019)
- With Egypt: in force since 1-9-2020 ( Law 4698 O.G. Α’ 122/22-06-2020)
The above mentioned Agreements are binding upon all our social security bodies, except the former General Accounting Office and the Merchant Seamen’s Fund, because they do not fall within their scope, other than the last two agreements (with Serbia and Egypt) and are governed by the following main principles of social security:
- The principle of equal treatmentin terms of social security protection for workers of both contracting states,
- The principle of the maintenance of acquired rightsof salaried workers, those who are dealt as salaried workers, self-employed workers, if they transfer their residence or work in the territory of the other Contracting State
- The principle of aggregation of insurance periodsacquired by workers in both Contracting States, in terms of both establishing an entitlement and calculating the benefits,
- The “pro-rata temporis rule” for benefits(namely, each state shall bear the burden according to the time that the beneficiary has paid contributions in each particular state).
- The principle of the export of benefits to the beneficiary’s State of residence.
In particular, as regards the principle of aggregation of insurance periods we would like to note that each Agreement individually provides for the method that shall be used for the aggregation of insurance and/or residence periods spent in a country with the insurance or residence periods in another country.
In each Agreement the contracting Parties take into account the special characteristics of corresponding social security systems that differ from one country to another. Each Agreement explicitly provides for the setting or not of thresholds by Greek Insurance funds. They also explicitly specify other issues too, such as the time that shall be taken into account for the acknowledgement of military service, or the time period that shall be taken into account for the implementation of provisions on voluntary provisions.
It has to be noted that no derogation is possible when the Contracting States shall apply the Agreement because the Bilateral Agreements have been ratified by the Greek Parliament and have taken effect under article 28 of the Constitution and, in any case, they prevail over our national legislation.
An amendment to any Social Security Agreement may take place only through its revision and the signing of a new Agreement with the consent of the interested Parties.
Β. Specific Agreements
They regulate only certain social security issues with a special manner and for specific categories of workers.
Greece has concluded three (3) specific Social Security Agreements with:
- Libya (Law 1909/1990, O.G. A’ 163),
- Syria (Law 2922/2001, O.G A’ 135) and
- Ontario (Law 1550/1985, O.G. A’ 96).
The first agreement (with Libya) provides for the transfer of workers’ social security contributions to their countries of origin at the time of risk occurrence, for the periods they had been working at the countries of destination, so that these periods are considered service time, in accordance with the legislation of the country they are transferred to. Provision is also made for the transfer of beneficiaries’ pensions from the country of employment to the country of origin.
The second Agreement regulates only social security issues of Syrian workers seconded in Greece at the offices of the Syrian Airlines while the third Agreement (Ontario) regulates issues relating to industrial accidents and occupational diseases.
Social Security Protection and International Organisations
Council of Europe – European Code of Social Security: signed by our country in 1977 and ratified in 1981 by virtue of Law 1136/13-03-1981 O.G. 61Α concerning specific parts of it. Parts concerning family allowances and unemployment have not been ratified. Moreover, the Protocol to the European Code has not been ratified.
Council of Europe – European Social Charter: it is the main instrument of the Council of Europe, it mainly applies to Labour issues (Law 1426/1984, O.G. 32Α’) and the revised ESC.
International Labour Office – International Convention No. 102 on «Social Security Minimum Standards» ratified by Law 3251/1955 (O.G. 140 Α). This convention is one of the main international instruments setting the minimum social security standards that countries shall provide to workers.
International Labour Office – International Convention No. 103 on «Maternity protection» ratified by Law 1302/1982 (O.G. 133 Α).
United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 – art. 22 & 25, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – art. 9.