LIVING IN GREECE
Greece lies in South East Europe covering an area of 130,000km2 with a population of 11 million. It borders Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and has close trade links with Italy and Cyprus (the latter a particularly close trading partner due not only to geography but also the shared historical and cultural links between the two countries).
Greece is a full member of the EU, the Eurozone, the OECD and NATO.
The country has a Mediterranean climate with temperatures ranging from 5C0-20C0 during winter and from 25C0-35C0 during the summer.
Greek is the official language but English is widely spoken and, as in other jurisdictions, the most common lingua franca of doing business.
Citizens of EU member-states which have ratified the Schengen treaty are free to move, live and work in Greece (subject to minimal requirements).
Nationals from non-EU countries must obtain an entry visa before arriving in Greece and a residence permit if also seeking employment.
Working days are Monday to Friday. Public sector buildings and banks are open from 08:00 to 14.30 while private sector businesses tend to work lengthier hours. The cost of living is just below the European Union average. In recent years opportunities for buying and renting high quality housing have increased. There are many English-speaking private schools for children of foreign parents alongside the normal free state schools.
Greece’s highly developed infrastructure (road networks, airports, ports, energy and telecommunication networks) is comparable (and, arguably in some instances, favorable) to that of any other developed Western European economy. It allows for easy implementation of almost any investment activity.
Greece is a presidential parliamentary democracy. The executive body is the Government headed by the Prime Minister. At time of writing left-wing and right-wing parties – SYRIZA and ANEL respectively – form a coalition government created after the general election of September 2015.
Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral Hellenic Parliament and the President of the Greek Republic. Laws are voted on by Parliament and require ratification by the President to be enacted. Judicial authority is independent of Parliament and the Government.
Greece is a full member of the European Monetary Union. Its currency is the Euro.
In 2016 the Greek economy stabilized remarkably following the much-reported turbulence of 2015 and is expected to achieve a modest recovery. Greece has hastened reform efforts in a number of key economic areas, such as the product and service markets, and is radically changing its pension and social security systems. A number of large-scale privatization projects are also under way. Current GDP growth is around 0.3% and in 2017 the Greek economy is expected to achieve increased growth to the tune of 2.3%. Under current conditions the country can reasonably expect to achieve growth rates of between 2% and 3.5% for the next two years. In 2016 unemployment stood at 23.4% which, though high and well above the EU average, represented a fall for the third consecutive year. However, from an investor’s perspective high unemployment is a driver for Greece’s well-known reputation for providing an exceptionally highly skilled workforce – particularly in areas such as engineering and technology – at affordable costs. Low OPEXs have led many multinationals to establish shared services and production hubs in recent years. The banking sector is in good shape with capital adequacy ratios above the EU average and expected to improve further due to a strengthened framework for NPL management and resolution. The capital controls imposed in July 2015 remain in place but have been gradually relaxed to create a more investment and business-friendly environment.