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Greece Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Following nine years of continuous recession, Greek GDP is projected to grow for the third consecutive year in 2019. Growth will be modest, however, supported by improving domestic demand conditions. However, Greece's economy is not dynamic enough to generate sustainable strong growth and we expect its recovery to be gradual and prone to relapses.The centre-right New Democracy (Néa Dimokratía: ND), previously in opposition, won an absolute majority of 158 seats in the 300-seat parliament in the snap parliamentary election on 7 July 2019. This enabled the ND to form a government on its own. This absolute majority is likely to ease parliamentary approval of reform-oriented initiatives, such as reducing the tax and administrative burden and streamlining judicial processes. Strict post-bailout monitoring is likely to assure policy continuity.The new administration is likely to lower taxes, including cuts to corporate, dividend, and value-added tax in the two-year outlook, probably implemented gradually. The government will probably proceed with planned privatisations, including in the energy sector, and streamline the implementation of large infrastructure projects. The ND will to renegotiate lowering the fiscal targets agreed with Greece's official lenders. Greece is currently expected to run a primary surplus (which excludes interest payments) of 3.5% of GDP until 2022, but the previous government's relaxation of fiscal policy in the first half of 2019 prior to the election means that this target is now likely to be missed this year.A probable move to reform the public administration and the ongoing privatisation drive are likely to trigger industrial action throughout 2019–20, causing stoppages at public services and blocking and disrupting major ports, roads, and border crossings. Incidents involving left-wing militants and anarchist groups targeting Western companies and state institutions with IEDs are likely. Violence during anti-government demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki is also probable, including the use of Molotov cocktails, arson, and vandalism.
Last update: August 31, 2019

Operational Outlook

Heavy bureaucracy, complicated legal requirements, inefficient state mechanism, and high corruption levels 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. Unions' resistance, politicians' unwillingness to implement unpopular measures, and lack of know-how are likely to hamper progress. Strikes will probably become less frequent, but will still affect public services (including transport), ports, major roads, border crossings, and companies/sectors that are due to be privatised. The treatment of impaired mortgage debt remains a key regulatory concern: increased provisioning risks leaving the banking sector with a capital shortfall.

Last update: July 5, 2019

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, assassinations, 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). Throughout 2018, anarchist militant group Rouvikonas has primarily focused on vandalism, attacking a wide range of targets, a trend that is likely to continue.

Last update: September 20, 2019

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: September 20, 2019

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: September 20, 2019

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 size of these protests has significantly decreased since their height in 2010–14, when around 100,000 people often attended rallies. The risk of such protests is likely to remain elevated while Greece needs to maintain high budget surpluses and introduce reforms and privatisations. 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: September 20, 2019

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