The European Commission this week offered Brussels’ “seal of approval” over landmark legislation ratified last month in Greece to finally allow state recognition of foreign university-affiliated higher education institutions operating in the country.

The law tabled by Greece’s education ministry under Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis essentially bypassed a constitutional prohibition (Article 16) against non-state universities being  recognized – by the Greek state – as educational entities, i.e. issuing accepted degrees and diplomas.

According to a written reply by EU Commissioner Iliana Ivanova to a tabled question last February by two Greek MEP affiliated with the Communist Party (KKE), “…in line with established case law, the European Court of Justice confirmed the need for Member States to fulfil their commitments undertaken within the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on the freedom of establishment, the free movement of services, as well as the provisions of the Charter relating to academic freedom, the freedom to found higher education institutions and the freedom to conduct a business.”

Ivanova, the European Commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, also added that the Commission “…welcomes the intention of Greece to ratify the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It secures students’ rights in the context of transnational mobility through a more streamlined recognition of diplomas. The Bologna Process is a voluntary intergovernmental process of 49 countries, going beyond the EU, which established the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in 2010.”

In the tabled question before the then draft law was ratified in early March 2024, MEPs Kostas Papadakis and Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos claimed that the “establishment of non-state universities has provoked justified reactions from the nation’s entire academic community.”

The two KKE office-holders also asked how the Commission considers “…the fact that the shaping of the European Higher Education Area and its policy orientations leads to abolition of the uniform system of university admission, the devaluation of university degrees, multiple categorisation of courses in the same subject, and the intensification of class barriers when astronomical fees are charged for courses?”