Fri. Jul 12th, 2024
Brussels, 4 January 2023
Answer given by Ms McGuinness
on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission is aware of the hardship caused to millions of EU citizens by increasing interest rates and energy prices. EU legislation offers some safeguards1, obliging Member States to require creditors to have policies and procedures to exercise reasonable forbearance before foreclosure proceedings are initiated. Member States may introduce more stringent provisions to protect consumers in line with EU law. The Greek insolvency code2 establishes a safety net for vulnerable debtors, with a temporary subsidy of their loan instalment in outof-court restructuring and a sale-and-leaseback regime e.g. in case of insolvency or if their primary residence is about to be auctioned.
The Commission has identified housing affordability in Greece as an important issue3. The housing cost overburden rate is the highest in the EU. In addition, a rent housing benefit exists for primary residences of low-income households4. The Commission has supported actions to increase access to affordable housing for vulnerable groups. The development of a social housing policy, covering vulnerable groups is considered by the Greek authorities in the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) programmes for 2021-2027 and in Greece’s Child Guarantee Action Plan5.
The Commission is committed to ensuring respect for the right of freedom of expression and the right of assembly, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundament Rights of the EU. However, according to its Article 51(1), the Charter is addressed to Member States only when they are implementing Union law. The case referred to by the Honourable Member falls exclusively within the competence of the Member State. In this case, it is for the Member State, including their judicial authorities to ensure that fundamental rights are effectively respected and protected in line with national legislation and international human rights obligations.

1 Article 28 of the Mortgage Credit directive (Directive 2014/17/EU; OJ L 60, 28.2.2014, p. 34–85), as it has been recently amended by the Non-Performing Loans Directive (Directive (EU) 2021/2167; OJ L 438, 8.12.2021, p. 1–37).
2 Law 4738/2020 transposing Directive (EU) 2019/1023. The new sale-and-leaseback regime aims to avoid past moral hazard behavior and the adverse impact it has had in the cost of credit in Greece. An interim scheme has been established by the authorities to ensure a smooth transition until the sale-and lease-back entity commences operations, according to which the state will provide financial support to eligible vulnerable debtors.
3 Commission Staff Working Document country report Greece 2020 accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup 2020 European Semester: Assessment of progress on structural reforms, prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances, and results of in-depth reviews under Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, SWD/2020/507 final.
4 The housing benefit was introduced under the Programme and amounts to 70 euros per month for a singleperson household, increased by 35 euros per month for every additional member.
5 Greece sets ambitious national targets in its Child Guarantee Action Plan. Namely, 1) to reduce the rate of excessive burden of housing cost for children at risk of poverty to less than 60% by 2030, from 84% in 2020 (compared to 31.7% in 2020 in the EU), 2) to bring the percentage of severe housing deprivation for children at risk of poverty down to 14% in 2030, from 18.1% in 2020 (compared to 14% in 2019 in the EU), 3) to reduce the number of children living in institutional care to 0 by 2030, from 1477 in 2022. Moreover, Greece intends to invest significantly in reducing child poverty (more than 12%of ESF+ resources).


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