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Greece Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The economic outlook for 2020 has substantially deteriorated because of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Tourism activity will be particularly hit this year, but the virus will also lead to substantially lower external demand for Greek goods and weaker consumption levels. This, combined with a stocks-led 0.7% quarter-on-quarter (q/q) decline in activity during the fourth quarter of 2019, suggests that the economy will struggle to post any growth in 2020. The government of the centre-right New Democracy (Néa Dimokratía: ND) in March adopted measures to mitigate the COVID-19 virus impact, including additional healthcare spending and deferral of VAT, tax, and social security payments for negatively affected companies for four months. Specific measures aimed at the tourism sector are likely. There is a moderate likelihood that the planned gradual lowering of taxes will be slowed down. The ND has an absolute majority of 158 seats in the 300-seat parliament following the snap parliamentary election in July 2019. The absolute majority will ease parliamentary approval of reform-oriented initiatives, such as reducing the tax and administrative burden, improving tax collection, and streamlining judicial processes. Strict post-bailout monitoring is likely to assure policy continuity. The government will probably proceed with planned privatisations, including in the energy sector, and streamline the implementation of large infrastructure projects. The ND will attempt to renegotiate lowering the fiscal targets agreed with Greece's official lenders. A probable move to reform the public administration and the ongoing privatisation drive are likely to trigger industrial action in the two-year outlook, causing stoppages at public services and blocking and disrupting major ports, roads, and border crossings. Incidents involving left-wing militants and anarchist groups targeting embassies, state institutions, and parked vehicles with low-level IEDs are likely. Anti-government demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki pose risk of damages to building fronts and vehicles from Molotov cocktails, arson, and similar forms of vandalism.
Last update: March 17, 2020

Operational Outlook

Heavy bureaucracy, complicated legal requirements, inefficient state mechanisms, and an elevated risk of corruption put Greece among the worst EU performers for ease of doing business, below several Western Balkan countries. Corruption is particularly persistent in the public sector. Trade union resistance and probable patchy implementation are likely to hamper progress on reforms. There is a high risk of strikes affecting public services (including transport), ports, major roads, border crossings, and companies/sectors that are due to be privatised.

Last update: February 21, 2020

Terrorism

Elevated

Greece has the highest frequency of domestic terrorist attacks in Western Europe, staged by far-left militants and anarchist groups. Over the past few years, several splinter groups have surfaced, using IEDs, drive-by shootings, timed incendiary devices and letter-bombs. Their priority targets include multinational corporations (plans to attack COSCO in 2017), foreign embassies (the French embassy, 2018), financial institutions (Eurobank, 2017), law enforcement (Athens court, 2018), political parties/figures (ex-premier Lucas Papademos, 2017), and the media (Skai TV, 2018). In the past two years, anarchist militant group Rouvikonas has primarily focused on vandalism, attacking a wide range of targets, a trend that is likely to continue.

Last update: January 3, 2020

Crime

Organised criminal groups operate in Greece and their operations will continue to focus mainly on drug and human trafficking, smuggling, robberies, theft, counterfeiting, and forgery. The issue of extortion will also remain a problem, with the gangs particularly targeting small businesses, such as shops, cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs. Nonetheless, the law enforcement agencies have cracked down on several groups in the past few years, while intra-regional co-operation, particularly in fighting terrorism and organised crime, has also improved. There has been a slight decrease in recorded serious crime, while petty crimes and theft have increased.

Last update: January 3, 2020

War Risks

War risks in Greece stem from disagreements over boundary demarcations with Turkey in the Aegean Sea (maritime and air boundaries) and the Cyprus issue. Maritime and aviation disputes, and disagreements over patrolling rights, will pose risks to military ships and to hydrocarbon exploration and other vessels in the eastern Aegean Sea. However, all involved parties are members or candidate countries of the same international and regional organisations (such as the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE), reducing the risk of these disputes evolving into armed confrontations.

Last update: January 3, 2020

Social Stability

High

Public spending cuts in reaction to Greece's fiscal and economic challenges sparked frequent nationwide and sectoral protests affecting primarily Athens and Thessaloniki. The risk of such protests is likely to remain elevated while Greece needs to maintain high budget surpluses and introduce reforms and privatisations. The size of the protests is likely to remain much smaller than at their height in 2010–14, when around 100,000 people often attended rallies. Protests are likely to turn violent, with anarchists often targeting business premises and fighting with police. Three people died in 2010 when protesters set fire to Marfin Egnatia Bank in Athens.

Last update: January 3, 2020

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Greece is exposed to some natural risks due to its geographical location.

The country is in a highly active seismic zone; in 1999, a powerful earthquake (magnitude 5.9 on the Richter scale) occurred near Athens, killing 150 people. A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Kos on July 21, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others. Several older buildings were damaged and thousands of tourists visiting the island were forced to evacuate their hotels. Kos International Airport (KGS) suffered some damage, disrupting operations for several weeks, along with ferry services.

Floods also often strike the country during the spring and winter months.

Forest fires frequently occur in summer months throughout Greece due to high temperatures and dry winds. A state of emergency was declared on the island of Kythira in August 2017 due to wildfires.  

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Greece has a Mediterranean climate which is regularly tempered in coastal regions by maritime winds. Temperatures can be scorching in the summer (40°C to 45°C). Winters are mild in the south and a bit colder in the northwest (mountainous region). The country receives its highest levels of rainfall in the winter.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +30
Police: 100
Ambulance: 166
Fire Dept.: 199

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019