The Architecture of the Emergency Framework of Greece: Inactivity and Second Generation Emergencies

17 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2019

Date Written: February 12, 2019


In 20th century Greece, officially Hellenic Republic, which is an independent state from 1830, wars, social unrest, and armed coups informed the drafters of the 1975 Greek Constitution on the issue of emergency. The Constitution of 1975, which established the so-called third Republic, replaced the Constitution of 1952, which was overthrown in 1967 by a military coup that lasted seven years until 1974. The current constitutional document was amended three times in 1986, in 2001 and finally in 2008.

The first part of this article will show that de lege lata, the emergency toolbox of Greece, provides policymakers with a plethora of options to address emergency situations. But given the fact that policymakers in Greece have such powerful tools at their disposal to address potential threats to national security before these escalate and cause breakdowns, one may wonder why the constitutional system has been unable to respond promptly and efficiently during recent emergencies — like the economic crisis in 2009 and the emerging refugee crisis that began in 2015.

This article will argue that the reason why the Greek constitutional system repeatedly fails to address emergencies in practice is threefold. First and foremost, the emergency framework of Greece is well equipped with numerous provisions, but it still lacks specific provisions on economic emergencies. Suffice to mention here that many newly adopted constitutions contain provisions and regulate economic emergencies explicitly.

Second, the imperfect formulation of the separation of powers makes emergencies initiative monopolized by the cabinet, thus, allowing the Prime Minister, head of the cabinet and leader of the majority party in Parliament, to remain inactive during emergencies.

Third, despite the fact that the constitutional drafters have foreseen the need to regulate second generation emergencies when there is an official declaration of the state of emergency (de jure), the absence of a specific derivative emergency framework during de facto emergencies creates deadens and inefficiencies. In particular, the occurrence of the refugee crisis amidst the economic crisis is a prime example of an emergency within an emergency. In principle, it is apparent that governments rely on the emergency provisions to face second-generation emergencies as well. But given that emergency provisions are drafted on the assumption that an emergency will occur under normal circumstances, one must wonder if the existing emergency provisions will be good enough to address second-generation emergencies.

Keywords: Emergency Laws, Economic Emergencies, Second Generation Emergencies

Suggested Citation

Kouroutakis, Antonios E., The Architecture of the Emergency Framework of Greece: Inactivity and Second Generation Emergencies (February 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

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