Killing me Softly? Scrutinising the Role of Soft Law in Greece’s Response to COVID-19

Evangelia (Lilian) Tsourdi*, Niovi Vavoula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Greece emerged as the EU's poster child in the fight against COVID-19 during the first few months of the pandemic. In this contribution, we assess Greece's use of soft regulation in its regulatory response to COVID-19. Using "acts of legislative content", which can be broadly conceptualised as softly adopted hard law, the Greek government largely achieved flexibility and simplified adoption procedures without having to resort to soft law per se. The role of soft law was limited - it complemented hard law rather than constituting the primary basis of COVID-19 restrictions - but not completely negligible. Soft law instruments regulated the processing of personal data, and was also pivotal in clarifying the criminal sanctioning of COVID-related rule violations. Greece's success in handling the first wave of the pandemic, while effective, was arguably unfair to asylum seekers who saw their right to apply for asylum curtailed, and their right to freedom of movement restricted when limitations on the rest of the population were lifted. With a second wave of infections currently in full swing, it is imperative to keep scrutinising regulatory responses to ensure that they place the health and dignity of every individual (whoever they might be) at their core and fully respect their fundamental rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-76
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • EU


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