Thodoris Chondrogiannos
The Cisco case: The government violates parliamentary rules of procedure
23 • 03 • 2021

In a state that adheres to the rule of law, the Government must strictly enforce the law on parliamentary scrutiny of its work. However, the Minister of Education and Religion, Niki Kerameos, violated the relevant provisions of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament in the case of the government’s cooperation with Cisco on e-learning.

Against the background of the HDPA opinion (4/2020) published last September and the public debate on the violation of personal data protection legislation in the case of the collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Cisco for e-learning, the opposition parties, in the context of parliamentary scrutiny, exercised a number of relevant parliamentary mechanisms, such as Current Questions (which is an opportunity for MPs to direct questions on urgent issues to Ministers or the Prime Minister) (SYRIZA 26.01.2021 (read the question here) and 11.12.2020, (read the question here), KINAL 18.11.2020  (question and answer here) and MeRA25 23.3.2021, (question and answer here) and Requests for Submission of Documents from KINAL and SYRIZA (which is a mechanism of parliamentary scrutiny whereby MPs can request documents relating to an issue from a minister, who must then submit them within a month, provided they are not classified).

Among other things, the opposition parties demanded that the contract signed between the government and Cisco for e-learning and the Webex platform, along with its subsequent amendments, be made public. This is because after the agreement was made, the Ministry of Education had decided not to disclose the contracts with Cisco, in violation of the legal requirements of transparency that govern the operation of the administration.

This case presents as particularly problematic in the context of a proper and lawful functioning of government within the rule of law, as the Ministry of Education didn’t only violate the parliamentary rules of procedure, but also the GDPR and the legislation on personal data protection, as well as transparency legislation.

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

The government must abide by parliamentary scrutiny legislation, which is one of the preconditions for the proper functioning of democracy in a state governed by the rule of law.

However, in this case the Minister of Education and Religion, Niki Kerameos, repeatedly violated the provisions of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament (Article 133 paragraph 3) which obliges her, like any minister, to supply Parliament with any documents officially requested by MPs.

Thodoris Chondrogiannos
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