Increasing Pension Ages in Greece and Ireland: A Question of Legitimate Expectations

AuthorDafni Diliagka,Elaine Dewhurst
Published date01 September 2014
Date01 September 2014
Subject MatterArticle
European Jour nal of Social Sec urity, Volume 16 (2014), No. 3 225
E D and D D*
is paper examines the change s to pension ages in Greece and Ireland precipitated
by the global  nancial crisis and introduced as a result of the Greek and Irish
bail-outs.  e paper analyses whether pensioners in the two jurisdictions had a
legitimate expectation that such changes would not occur or whether they had
a legitimate expectation that such changes would not be introduced without
transitional measures. It concludes that , while there is no existing legal protection
of the legitimate expectation in either case, there are some moral arguments in
support of the introduction of transitional mea sures to ensure that pensioners can
make the necessary a djustments to their  nancial a airs in the lig ht of the changes
in pension law.
Keywords: administrative law; legitimate expectations; pension age; pension law;
transitional a rrangements
e European  nancial crisis, precipitated by the wider global economic crisis, has
had a signi cant in uence on the social rights of residents of the EU. Il lustrative of this
impact are the alterat ions to the pension age in many EU Member States. While many
Member States were considering such changes to the pension age as a consequence
* Dr. Elaine Dewhurst is a Senior Lecturer in Employment Law, University of Manchester. Address:
Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, United Kingdom; phone: +44 161 2755785; e-mail: elaine .
dewhurst@ma Ms. Daf ni Diliagka is a Ph D Student at the Max Planck Ins titute for
Social Law and S ocial Policy. Address: Amalienstrasse 33, D-80799 München, Germa ny; phone:
+49 89 3860240 6; e-mail: diliag  ey would l ike to sincerely thank Profes sor
Dr. Ulrich Becke r for assisting them in the prep aration and  na lisation of this art icle and for his
invaluable in sights throughout the process , and the anony mous reviewers for t heir invalu able
comments.  e two authors c ontributed equally to t his article.
Elaine Dewhu rst and Dafni Dil iagka
226 Intersentia
of demographic transformation and its  nancial impact, in some cases, the change
occurred much quicker, conditional upon  nancial aid from the EU and the IMF.
Greece1 and Ireland2 were the  rst Member States to seek and receive  nancial
aid from the EU and the IMF. However, these  nancial aid packages also included
conditions, o en negotiated very quickly, to increase pension ages in Greece and in
Ireland (although both Ireland a nd Greece had been considering such a change prior
to these events). In Greece, the general pension age of 65 years increased to 67 years
from 1 January 2013, without the introduc tion of any transitional period, and speci al
treatment for some speci c groups was abolished.3 Irela nd, on the other hand, saw an
increase in the norma l pension age, with a shi from 65 years to 6 6 years in 2014 and
with fur ther shi s to occ ur in 2021 and 2028.4
e rise of the retirement age a ected the stability and predictability of the law
in both jurisdictions since prospective pensioners, who had organised and planned
their economic a airs based on a lower retirement age, now face very uncertain
circumstances. In social states, such as Greece and Ireland, the necessity that legal
provisions are governed by consistency and coherence is protected by the principle
of legitimate expectation.  e purpose and function of the concept of legitimate
expectation is sim ilar in many jurisd ictions on the grounds that ‘the law should protect
the trust that has b een reposed in the promise made by an o cial.Good govern ment
depends upon trust between the governed and the governor. Unless that trust is
sustained, protected o cials will not be believed and indiv iduals will not order their
a a irs on that assu mption’.5 e German concept of Vert rauen sschutz also highlights
the importance of tr ust as a central purpose of the doct rine of legitimate expectation.
Schroeder has commented that the protection of legitimate expectations in English
law (and similarly Irish law) ‘is deri ved from the principle of Vertrauen sschu tz , which
seeks to ensure that “everyone who trusts the legality of a public administrative
decision should be protected ”’.6 Similar references to trust and con dence can be
identi ed in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union where the
principle of legitimate expectation ‘extends to any individual where, by giving him
1 e EU o ered its  rst  nancial support to Greece on 25March 2010 and Greece sought  nancial
support on 25Apr il 2010. A loan package of €110 billion was a greed on 2May 2010. Greece also
received a furt her  nancial aid package on 21Febr uary 2012. See European Central Bank, “Key
Dates of the Financ ial Crisis”, available at w sis.en.html.
2 Ireland sought  nancial support on 21November 2010 and a pack age of measures was agreed on
7December 2010.  is include d a loan package of €85 billion . Detail s are availa ble at http://ec.europa.
eu/economy_ nance/ar ticles/eu_economic_sit uation/2010–12–01- nancial-assistanceireland_en.
3 For further de tails, see Sec tion 2.1 below.
4 For further de tails, see Sec tion 2.2 below.
5 Forsyth (2011: 2).
6 Schroeder (2002: 119).

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