Greece has rebounded since the 2009-2018 financial crisis that saw real GDP decline by 25 percent.  Modest growth began to return in 2019 and unemployment dropped from its crisis peak of 35 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2022.  The Government of Greece (GoG) has implemented reforms and attracted investment by cutting red tape, boosting innovation and entrepreneurship, digitizing government services, and enabling more rapid growth in the renewable energy sector.  Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio decreased by more than 20 percent in 2022 – reflecting robust growth, fiscal adjustment, and higher inflation – and it benefits from relatively low debt servicing rates that should allow Greece to easily service its debt for the foreseeable future.  Most major ratings agencies upgraded Greece’s sovereign debt rating to one notch below investment grade as of late January as a result of Greece’s sustained positive fiscal performance.  The European Commission’s November 2022 forecast for the Greek economy predicted GDP growth of 6.0 percent in 2022 – nearly double the EU average – and 1.0 percent growth in 2023.

Over the past several years, the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Greece has deepened significantly via defense and strategic partnerships, and Greece ambitiously seeks to bring economic ties to similar, historic heights.  Greece is increasingly a source of solutions – not just in the fields of energy diplomacy and defense, but in high-tech innovation, healthcare, and green energy, improving prospects for solid economic growth and stability here and in the wider region.

The Mitsotakis government has pursued an aggressive investment and economic reform agenda.  In recent years parliament approved dozens of economic-related bills, including a key investment law in October 2019, designed to cut red tape, help achieve full employment, and adopt best international practices – including by digitizing government services.  Investors cite difficulties with Greece’s bureaucracy and lack of timely resolution in cases in litigation as impediments to investment.

Greece’s government maintains an estimated $38 billion cash liquidity buffer as of June 2022. Capital controls were completely lifted in September 2019 and Greece successfully exited the European Commision’s economic Enhanced Surveillance Framework in August 2022. Greece will remain subject to post-program surveillance monitoring by euro area creditors until it repays 75 percent of financial assistance, expected in 2059.

The health of Greece’s banking system has improved significantly following the financial crisis, in part due to substantial reductions of non-performing loans (NPL), including via the securitization of NPLs through the “Hercules” program. The NPL ratio decreased from a crisis high of 45 percent in 2017 to less than 10 percent at the end of 2022.

Greece’s return to economic growth has generated new investor interest in the country. From 2011-2022, the U.S. was the 8th largest source of foreign direct investment in Greece. Investments by Applied Materials, AWS, Cisco, Deloitte, Digital Realty, Google, J.P.  Morgan, Meta, Microsoft, and Pfizer are projected to have an economic impact worth billions of dollars over the next few years.

In January 2023, Fitch Ratings upgraded Greece’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BB+’ from ‘BB’. In September 2022, Moody’s affirmed its outlook of the Greek banking system as “stable.” Standard & Poor upgraded its credit rating for Greece to BB+ in April 2022.  Greece repaid its International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans in April 2022, two years ahead of schedule.

With 32 billion euros in European Recovery and Relief Facility (RRF) funds set to flow into the country over the next five years, many anticipate continued strong growth.

From July to November 2022 electricity prices for Greek consumers increased nearly 300 percent compared to the same period in 2020. To shield consumers from these record-high prices, the Government of Greece spent more than €5 billion ($5.25 billion at the current exchange rate) since July 2022 subsidizing the retail cost of electricity and offsetting as much as 90 percent of the price increase over 2020 rates. To help pay for these subsidies, the Grece expanded a cap on the wholesale prices of renewable energy to cap prices of wholesale electricity for all power producers to capture windfall revenues. The proceeds captured by this windfall tax have offset the government’s subsidy spending by nearly 45 percent while record tourism receipts have helped plug the remaining budgetary gaps.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings 
Measure  Year  Index/Rank  Website Address 
TI Corruption Perceptions Index  2022  51 of 180  https://www.transparency.org/
Global Innovation Index  2022  44 of 132  https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)  2021  $303 million  https://apps.bea.gov/international/
World Bank GNI per capita  2021  $20,000  http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment 

The Greek government continues to implement reforms to increase foreign investment. Greece completed its EU bailout program in 2018, allowing the country to access international capital markets once again to issue public debt securities at market rates. Despite recent economic reforms to increase competitiveness, heavy bureaucracy and a slow judicial system continue to create challenges for both foreign and domestic investors.

There are no laws or practices known to Post that discriminate against foreign investors.  The country has investment promotion agencies to facilitate foreign investments, with “Enterprise Greece” as the official agency of the Greek state.

Under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enterprise Greece is responsible for promoting investment in Greece and exports from Greece, and with making Greece more attractive as an international business partner.  Enterprise Greece provides the full spectrum of services related to international business relationships and domestic business development for the international market, including an Investor Ombudsman program for investment projects exceeding €2 million.  The Ombudsman is available to assist with specific bureaucratic obstacles, delays, disputes, or other difficulties that impede an investment project.  However, Enterprise Greece, even with its ombudsman service, may encounter difficulties with moving investment projects forward.

The General Secretariat for Strategic and Private Investments streamlines the licensing procedure for strategic investments, aiming to make the process easier and more attractive to investors.

Greece has adopted the following EU definitions regarding micro, small, and medium size enterprises:

  • Micro Enterprises:  Fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover or balance sheet below €2 million.
  • Small Enterprises:  Fewer than 50 employees and an annual turnover or balance sheet below €10 million.
  • Medium-Sized Enterprises:  Fewer than 250 employees and annual turnover below €50 million or balance sheet below €43 million.

Numerous structural reforms, undertaken as part of the country’s 2015-2018 international bailout program as well as a part of the current New Democracy administration’s efforts to lower taxes and reduce bureaucracy, aim to welcome and facilitate foreign investment, and the government has publicly messaged its dedication to attracting foreign investment.  The 2019 investment law simplified licensing procedures in order to facilitate investment. In December 2020, parliament passed a new law allowing non-residents who relocate their jobs to Greece to benefit from half their salary being free of income tax for up to seven years. The scheme is open to any type of job, any income level and complements other tax incentive schemes put in place, including a non-dom program for wealthy investors and a low flat tax rate for pensioners. Law 4710/2020 gave a strong push for electro-mobility, with several incentives and subsidies to those interested in acquiring an electric vehicle. The law has paved the way for greater U.S. investment. For example, Tesla and Blink expanded their electric vehicle (EV) charging networks in Greece. In July 2022, Greece’s government passed a new law aimed at attracting investments of €10 billion in new renewable energy source (RES) generation and storage by 2030. The law will reduce the number of licensing stages from 7 to 5 and aims to reduce the time to receive a license from more than three years to around one year. To help ensure faster licensing times, the government can now sanction grid operators who are found delaying renewable permits. Additionally, the law requires Greece’s electricity grid operators, HEDNO, to allocate substation margins to owners of distributed energy sources. The government’s goal is to attract 200,000 new small scale PV systems.

In the past decade, the country underwent one of the most significant fiscal consolidations in modern history, with broad and deep cuts to public expenditures and significant increases in labor and social security tax rates, which have offset improved labor market competitiveness achieved through significant wage devaluation.  While there has been notable progress, corruption and burdensome bureaucracy continue to create barriers to market entry for new firms, permitting incumbents to maintain oligopolies in different sectors, and creating scope for arbitrary decisions and rent seeking by public servants.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment 

As a member of the EU, the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and the single currency (the “euro area”), Greece is required to meet EU and eurozone investment regulations.  Foreign and domestic private entities have the legal right to establish and own businesses in Greece; however, the country places restrictions on foreign equity ownership higher than those imposed on average in the other 17 high-income Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies, such as equity restrictions on airport operations and limits on foreign ownership in electricity and media.

The government has undertaken EU-mandated reforms in its energy sector, opening much of it to foreign equity ownership.  Restrictions exist on land purchases in border regions and on certain islands because of national security considerations.  Foreign investors can buy or sell shares on the Athens Stock Exchange on the same basis as local investors.  Greece does not currently maintain an investment screening mechanism. However, the Greek Government is working to draft legislation to implement an FDI screening mechanism in accordance with EU Regulation 2019/452.

 Other Investment Policy Reviews 

The OECD published an updated Economic Survey of Greece in October 2022. The report states that continued policy reforms have contributed to a strong rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. Recovery has slowed due to surging energy and food prices and renewed global uncertainty, including Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. According to the OECD, achieving and maintaining modest primary budget surpluses, better targeting energy support measures and maintaining public revenues while further broadening the tax base and improving its efficiency will further enhance Greece’s prospects of achieving an investment-grade sovereign debt rating.

Although Greece has many civil society organizations (CSOs), no CSO has raised concerns related to investment policies introduced by the government of Greece.

Business Facilitation 

In 2020, Greece eased processes for starting a business by reducing the time to register a company and removing the requirement to obtain a tax clearance.  Accessing industrial land in Greece is relatively quick, with only three weeks required to lease land from the government.  Private land can be leased within 15 days.  Arbitrating commercial disputes, however, can take almost a year.  Establishing a limited liability company takes approximately four days with three procedures involved, including registering the business, making a company seal, and registering with the Unified Social Security Institution.  Greece’s Ease of Doing Business score in 2020 (the most recent data available from the World Bank) is 68.4, for a rank of 11 for starting a business and rank of 79 overall.

Greece’s business registration entity GEMI (General Commercial Register) has the basic responsibility for digitizing and automating the registration and monitoring procedures of commercial enterprises. The online business registration process is relatively clear, and although foreign companies can use it, the registration steps are currently available only in Greek.  In general, a company must register with the business chamber, tax registry, social security, and local municipality.  Business creation without a notary can be done for specific cases (small/personal businesses, etc.).  For the establishment of larger companies, a notary is mandatory.

Outward Investment 

The Greek government does not have any known outward investment incentive programs.  Capital controls were eliminated in September 2019.

Enterprise Greece supports the international expansion of Greek companies.  While no incentives are offered, Enterprise Greece has been supportive of Greek companies attending the U.S. Government’s Annual Select USA Investment Summit, which promotes inbound investment to the United States, and similar industry trade events internationally.

As an EU member state, Greece does not have a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States but is a party to all U.S.-EU agreements.

Greece and the United States signed the 1954 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, which provides certain investment protection, such as acquisition and protection of property and impairment of legally acquired rights or interests. Enterprise Greece is now housed within the Economic Diplomacy and Extroversion Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Greece and the United States signed a Treaty for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income in 1950.  Greece reached an agreement in substance on November 30, 2014, on the terms of an intergovernmental agreement with the United States to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was signed January 2017.

Greece is a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The Greek government also accepted the Inclusive Framework’s October 2021 deal  on the two-pillar solution to global tax challenges, including a global minimum corporate tax.

For a listing of countries Greece has Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with, please see the following: https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/international-investment-agreements/countries/81/greece 

Transparency of the Regulatory System 

As an EU member, Greece is required to have transparent policies and laws for fostering competition.  Foreign companies consider the complexity of government regulations and procedures and their inconsistent implementation to be a significant impediment to investing and operating in Greece.  Occasionally, foreign companies report cases where there are multiple laws governing the same issue, resulting in confusion over which law is applicable.  Under its bailout programs, the Greek government committed to widespread reforms to simplify the legal framework for investment, including eliminating bureaucratic obstacles, redundancies, and undue regulations.  A 2010 fast-track law simplified the licensing and approval process for “strategic” investments, i.e. large-scale investments that will have a significant impact on the national economy.  Investment Law 4146/2013 simplified the regulatory system and stimulated investment.  This law provides additional incentives, beyond those in the fast-track law, available to domestic and foreign investors, dependent on the sector and the location of the investment.

In February 2021, the EU introduced new trade enforcement regulations which apply to all member-states, including new policy countermeasures to services and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (IPR). Former trade enforcement regulations only permitted countermeasures in goods. The following enforcement mechanisms have been enacted at the EU-level:

  • the appointment of a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer;
  • the creation of a new Directorate in DG Trade for enforcement, market access and SMEs; and
  • the establishment under Access2Markets of a single-entry point for complaints from EU stakeholders and businesses on trade barriers on foreign markets and violations of sustainable trade commitments in EU trade agreements.

Additionally, the European Commission has also committed to developing the EU’s anti-coercion mechanism, with the goal to deter countries from restricting or threatening to restrict trade or investment.

Foreign firms are not subject to discrimination in taxation.  The government makes continued efforts to combat tax evasion by increasing inspections and crosschecks among various authorities and by using more sophisticated methods to find undeclared income. Authorities held monthly lotteries offering taxpayers rewards of €1,000 ($1,200) for using credit or debit cards, which are considered more financially transparent, in their daily transactions.

Foreign investment is not legally prohibited or otherwise restricted.  Proposed laws and regulations are published in draft form for public comment before Parliament takes up consideration of the legislation.  The laws in force are accessible on a unified website managed by the government and printed in an official gazette.  Greece requires International Financial Reporting Standards for the financial statements of listed companies in accordance with EU directives.  These rules improved the transparency and accountability of publicly traded companies.

International Regulatory Considerations 

Citizens of other EU member state countries may work freely in Greece.  Citizens of non-EU countries may work in Greece after receiving residence and work permits.  There are no discriminatory or preferential export/import policies affecting foreign investors, as EU regulations govern import and export policy, and increasingly, many other aspects of investment policy in Greece.

Greece is a World Trade Organization (WTO) member and a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).  Greece complies with WTO Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) requirements. There are no performance requirements for establishing, maintaining, or expanding an investment. Performance requirements may come into play, however, when an investor wants to take advantage of certain investment incentives offered by the government.  Greece has not enacted measures that are inconsistent with TRIMs requirements, and the Embassy is not aware of any measures alleged to violate Greece’s WTO TRIMs obligations.  Trade policy falls within the competence and jurisdiction of the European Commission Directorate General for Trade and is generally not subject to regulation by member state national authorities.

Legal System and Judicial Independence 

Although Greece has an independent judiciary, the court system is an extremely time-consuming and unwieldy means for enforcing property and contractual rights. According to European Commission’s ‘2022 Rule of Law Report’, a number of measures aiming at improving the efficiency and the quality of the Greek justice system are being implemented. The 2021 reform of the School of Judges aims at increasing the quality of judges’ training, and the planned creation of a National School for Judicial Clerks would help to improve the quality of the assistance to judges and of the management of the courts. The revised Code of Civil Procedure in 2021 seeks to have a positive impact on the efficiency of justice, in particular as regards delays in civil justice and the coherence of the case law. A code of conduct for the judges of the Council of State was adopted in March 2022. Draft legislation on the promotion of judges and prosecutors and the organization of the courts was adopted by the Parliament in June 2022. Measures are being implemented to improve the quality of justice, in particular as regards digitalization. Concerns remain regarding the appointment procedure for the most senior positions of judges and prosecutors, including the lack of judicial involvement in the selection process. Foreign companies report, however, that Greek courts do not consistently provide fast and effective recourse. Commercial and contractual laws accord with international norms, and the judicial system remains independent of the executive branch.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment 

Law 4605/2019 expands the types of investments that qualify an individual for a residence permit, allowing investments in intangible assets.  In particular, capital contribution of at least €400,000 in a real estate investment company, in a company registered in Greece, in a purchase of state bonds, corporate bonds, or shares, in a venture capital investment company, or in mutual funds, allows the investor and his or her family members a five-year residency permit in Greece.

Law 4608/2019 for strategic investments was approved in April 2019, creating a favorable investment climate by providing various privileges to investors such as tax exemptions and fast track licensing.

Investments in Greece operate under two main laws:  the new Investment Law (4399/2016) that addresses small-scale investments and Law 4146/2013 that addresses strategic investments.  In particular:

Law 4399/2016, entitled “Statutory framework to the establishment of Private Investments Aid Schemes for the regional and economic development of the country” was passed in June 2016.  The Greek government provides funds to cover part of the eligible expenses of the investment plan; the amount of the subsidy is determined based on the region and the business size.  Qualified companies are exempt from paying income tax on their pre-tax profits for all their activities.  There is a fixed corporate income tax rate and fast licensing procedures.  Eligible economic activities are manufacturing, shipbuilding, transportation/infrastructure, tourism, and energy.  More about this law can be found here:  https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/files/pdf/madrid2019/2-Investment-Incentives-Law.pdf .

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws 

Under Articles 101-109 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the European Commission (EC), together with member state national competition authorities, directly enforces EU competition rules.  The EC Directorate-General for Competition carries out this mandate in member states, including Greece.  Greece’s competition policy authority rests with the Hellenic Competition Commission, in consultation with the Ministry of Economy.  The Hellenic Competition Commission protects the proper functioning of the market and ensures the enforcement of the rules on competition.  It acts as an independent authority and has administrative and financial autonomy.

Expropriation and Compensation 

Private property may be expropriated for public purposes, but the law requires this be done in a nondiscriminatory manner and with prompt, adequate, and effective compensation.  Due process and transparency are mandatory, and investors and lenders receive compensation in accordance with international norms.  There have been no expropriation actions involving the real property of foreign investors in recent history, although legal proceedings over expropriation claims initiated, in one instance, over a decade ago, continue to work through the judicial system.

Dispute Settlement 

ICSID Convention and New York Convention 

Greece is a member of both the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York convention).

Investor-State Dispute Settlement 

Greece accepts binding international arbitration of investment disputes between foreign investors and the Greek government, and foreign firms have found satisfaction through arbitration.  International arbitration and European Court of Justice judgments supersede local court decisions.  The judicial system provides for civil court arbitration proceedings for investment and trade disputes.  Although an investment agreement could be made subject to a foreign legal jurisdiction, this is not common, particularly if one of the contracting parties is the Greek government.  Foreign court judgments are accepted and enforced, albeit slowly, by the local courts.

In an effort to create a more investor-friendly environment, the government established in 2017 an Investor’s Ombudsman service.  The Ombudsman is authorized to mediate disputes that arise between investors and the government during the licensing procedure.  Investors can employ the Ombudsman, housed within Enterprise Greece, with projects exceeding €2 million in value.  More info on the Ombudsman service can be found here:  https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/invest-in-greece/ombudsman 

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts 

The two main alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in Greece are domestic and international commercial arbitration or mediation.  Domestic arbitration is governed under the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP), and mediation is governed under The Mediation Act, Law 3898/2010, modeled after the UNCITRAL Model Law.  Greece recognizes foreign judgments under articles 323,780, and 905 of the CCP and articles 15-21 of Law 3858/2010.

Bankruptcy Regulations 

A new Insolvency Code, Law 4738/2020, came into effect in June 2021. The Insolvency Code abolished the former Law 3588/2007 (the Bankruptcy Code). According to Fotis Kourmousis, special secretary for private debt management at the Greek Finance Ministry, the intention of the Insolvency Code is to achieve private debt reduction primarily by identifying viable companies to undergo debt restructuring versus declaring bankruptcy.

Investment Incentives 

Investment incentives are available on an equal basis for both foreign and domestic investors in productive enterprises.  The investment laws in Greece aim to increase liquidity, accelerate investment processes, and ensure transparency.  They provide an efficient institutional framework for all investors and speed the approval process for pending investment projects.

The entire application and evaluation process shall not exceed six months (more information can be found at  https://www.ependyseis.gr ).

Greece offers incentive packages for green investments and expects to offer more as it receives its European Recovery and Resilience Facility allocations. In 2021, the European Commission approved a €2.3 billion Greek program to award aid for renewable energy production, including a joint competitive tendering procedure for onshore wind and solar installations and two-way contract-for-difference premiums for electricity production from renewable energy sources. The incentives have spurred increased investment in the renewable energy sector; auctions to secure long-term electricity production contracts for onshore wind and solar projects have been oversubscribed. Law 4710/2020 offers incentives to promote e-mobility, including subsidies for purchases of electric vehicles and associate charging equipment, as well as tax incentives for green investments. In 2021, the European Commission also approved Greek plans to establish an incentive scheme to help drive renewables deployment across 47 Greek islands, for example premium payments to generators to bridge the gap between generation costs and wholesale electricity prices. In July 2022, the Greek Parliament adopted Law 4951/2022 intended to streamline the licensing process for new RES generation.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation 

Greece has four free-trade zones, located at the Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, and Platigiali Astakos Etoloakarnias port areas.  Greek and foreign-owned firms enjoy the same advantages in these zones.  Goods of foreign origin may be brought into these zones without payment of customs duties or other taxes and may remain free of all duties and taxes if subsequently transshipped or re-exported.  Similarly, documents pertaining to the receipt, storage, or transfer of goods within the zones are free from stamp taxes.  Handling operations are carried out according to EU regulations.  Transit goods may be held in the zones free of bond.  These zones also may be used for repackaging, sorting, and re-labeling operations.  Assembly and manufacture of goods are carried out on a small scale in the Thessaloniki Free Zone.  Storage time is unlimited, as long as warehouse rents are paid every six months.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements 

The Greek government does not follow a policy of forced localization or mandate local employment designed to require foreign investors to use domestic content in goods or technology, with the exception of economic development requirements in many defense contracts (see Research and Development, below).  Some foreign investors partner with local companies or hire local staff/experts, however, as a way to facilitate their entry into the market.  In 2019, the government enacted a new amendment to the Greek tourism legislation, which obligates tour operators from third countries who do not own a travel agency in Greece to collaborate with a local travel agency established in the country to be able to conduct its business locally.  The government is not taking steps to force foreign investors to keep a specific amount of the data they collect and store within Greek national borders.

Research and Development 

Offset agreements, co-production, and technology transfers are commonplace in Greece’s procurement of defense items.  Although the most recent Greek defense procurement law eliminated offset requirements, there are some remaining ongoing active offset contracts, as well as expired offset contracts with U.S. firms that are potentially subject to non-performance penalties.  Defense procurements are still subject to economic development requirements, which are, in effect, similar to offsets.

In general, U.S. and other foreign firms may participate in government-financed and/or subsidized research and development programs.  Foreign investors do not face discriminatory or other formal inhibiting requirements.  However, many potential and actual foreign investors assert the complexity of Greek regulations, the need to deal with many layers of bureaucracy, and the involvement of multiple government agencies all discourage investment.

Real Property 

Greek laws extend the protection of property rights to both foreign and Greek nationals, and the legal system protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights.

Multiple layers of authority in Greece are involved in the issuance or approval of land use and zoning permits, creating disincentives to real property investment.  The government is working to create a comprehensive electronic land registry which is expected to increase the transparency of real estate management.  However, the land registry is behind schedule and is not expected to be completed until 2024.  Greece ranked 156 out of 190 countries for Ease of Registering Property in the World Bank’s most recent Doing Business Report in 2020.

Foreign nationals can acquire real estate property in Greece, though they first need to be issued a tax authentication number.  However, for the border areas, foreign nationals first require a license from the Greek state (Law 3978/2011).  In another effort to boost investment, the government passed Law 4146/2013, which allows foreign nationals who buy property in Greece worth over €250,000 ($265,000) to obtain a five-year residence permit for themselves and their families.  Starting May 1, 2023, the minimum property investment to qualify in specific high-demand areas is €500,000 ($531,000). The “Golden Visa” program has been extended to buyers of various types of Greek securities, including stocks, bonds, and bank accounts, with a value of at least €400,000.  The permit can be extended for an additional five years and allows travel to other EU and Schengen countries without a visa.

Intellectual Property Rights 

In 2020, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) delisted Greece from the USTR Special 301 Watch List due to progress made in addressing concerns regarding IP protection and enforcement.  The widespread use of unlicensed software in the public sector in Greece had been of long-standing concern to rights holders, however the government took steps to resolve this matter.

In 2020, Greece established an interagency structure, known as DIMEA, to focus on tackling the illicit trade of counterfeit goods and services within Greece (Law 4712/2020). The unit, which is led by representatives of the police, the Financial and Economic Crime Unit in the Ministry of Finance, and the Coast Guard and customs authorities, has the authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods, and impose fines of up to €100,000. In 2021, DIMEA seized and destroyed 285,000 counterfeit items and imposed €2.85 million in fines.

Greece is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the European Patent Convention, the Washington Patent Cooperation Treaty, and the Bern Copyright Convention.  As a member of the EU, Greece has harmonized its IP legislation with EU rules and regulations.  The WTO-TRIPS agreement was incorporated into Greek legislation on February 28, 1995 (Law 2290/1995).  The Greek government also signed and ratified the WIPO internet treaties and incorporated them into Greek legislation (Laws 3183 and 3184/2003) in 2003.  Greece’s legal framework for copyright protection is found in Law 2121 of 1993 on copyrights and Law 2328 of 1995 on the media.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at  http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Resources for Rights Holders 

Embassy Point of Contact:
U.S. Embassy Athens
Economic Section
91 Vas. Sofias Avenue, Athens, Greece 10160
Phone:  +30-210-721-2951

A list of local attorneys is available at  gr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/attorneys/

American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce
109-111 Messoghion Avenue, Politia Business Center
Athens, Greece 11526
Phone: +30-210-699-3559, Fax: +30-210-698-5686
Email:  info@amcham.gr 
Web Site:  www.amcham.gr 

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment 

Following EU regulations, Greece is open to foreign portfolio investment.  Law 3371/2005 sets an effective legal framework to encourage and facilitate portfolio investment.  Law 3283/2004 incorporates the European Council’s Directive 2001/107, setting the legal framework for the operation of mutual funds.  The Bank of Greece complies with its IMF Article VIII obligations and does not generally impose restrictions on payments.  Transfers for current international transactions are allowed but are subject to specific conditions for approval.  The lack of liquidity in the Athens Stock Exchange along with the challenging economic environment have hindered the allocation of credit but is accessible to foreign investors on the local market, who also have access to a variety of credit instruments.

Money and Banking System 

Greece’s banking system is recovering from a decade-long economic crisis that created a large stock of nonperforming loans (NPLs). The health of Greece’s banking system has improved significantly following the financial crisis, in part due to substantial reductions of non-performing loans (NPL) (including via the securitization of NPLs through the “Hercules” program). The NPL ratio decreased from a crisis high of 45 percent in 2017 to less than 10 percent at year-end 2022. The strong economic recovery in Greece in 2021, coupled with accommodative monetary and fiscal policies to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, contributed to improved liquidity conditions. Banks successfully continued their efforts to clean up their loan portfolios. This laid the groundwork for banks to resume their financial intermediation role and thus contribute to sustainable economic growth. However, banks continue to face challenges including the legacy stock of non-performing loans still on bank balance sheets; the low quality of Greek banks’ prudential own funds, given the large share of deferred tax assets; and low operating profitability. Currently, banks enjoy adequate liquidity and capital buffers that allow them to provide lending to the economy.

Greece has a reasonably efficient capital market that offers the private sector a wide variety of credit instruments.  Credit is allocated on market terms prevailing in the eurozone and credit is equally accessible by Greek and foreign investors.  An independent regulatory body, the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, supervises brokerage firms, investment firms, mutual fund management companies, portfolio investment companies, real estate investment trusts, financial intermediation firms, clearing houses and their administrators (e.g. the Athens Stock Exchange), and investor indemnity and transaction security schemes (e.g. the Common Guarantee Fund and the Supplementary Fund), and also encourages and facilitates portfolio investments.

Owner-registered bonds and shares are traded on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).  It is mandatory in Greece for the shares of banking, insurance, and public utility companies to be registered.  Greek corporations listed on the ASE that are also state contractors are required to have all their shares registered.

Greece has not announced that it intends to implement or allow the implementation of blockchain technologies in its banking transactions.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances 

Foreign Exchange 

Greece’s foreign exchange market adheres to EU rules on the free movement of capital. Although the government-imposed capital controls in 2015, at the height of the crisis, on September 1, 2019, all capital controls were removed.  Greece is a member of the euro area, which employs a freely floating exchange rate.  Greece is not engaged in currency manipulation for the purpose of gaining a competitive advantage.

Remittance Policies 

On September 1, 2019, all capital controls were removed.

Sovereign Wealth Funds 

There are no sovereign wealth funds in Greece.  Public pension funds may invest up to 20 percent of their reserves in state or corporate bonds.

Greek state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are active in utilities, transportation, energy, media, health, and the defense industry.  There is no official website with a list of SOEs.

Bank of Greece: partially owned (Greek state shares cannot exceed 35 percent); over 1,800 employees; governed by a Governor appointed by the government

DEPA Commercial: largest gas supplier in Greece, majority-owned by Greek state (65 percent); Net income €263 million in 2021; Total assets €1.07 billion in 2021.

DEPA International Projects: spun off from DEPA in 2020 to support international infrastructure projects; majority-owned by Greek state (65 percent)

Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI): wholly owned; Total assets €932.5 million in 2014; Net income €13.7 million in 2014; over 1,300 employees; in January 2023, the Government began looking for a strategic investor in HAI for a 49 percent stake

Most Greek SOEs are structured under the auspices of the Hellenic Corporation for Assets and Participations (HCAP), an independently operated fund to hold state assets mandated by Greece’s 2015 bailout and formally launched in 2016.  HCAP’s supervisory board is appointed in part by Greece’s creditor institutions. The Greek State, represented by the Ministry of Finance, is HCAP’s sole shareholder.

Official government statements on privatization since 2015 have sometimes led to confusion among investors.  The current government has expressed its commitment and is moving forward with privatizations, including DEPA and some of the port assets. In sectors opened to private investment, such as the telecommunications market, private enterprises compete with public enterprises under the same nominal terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations, such as licenses and supplies.  Some private sector competitors to SOEs report the government has provided preferential treatment to SOEs in obtaining licenses and leases.  The government actively seeks to end many of these state monopolies and introduce private competition as part of its overall reform of the Greek economy.  Greece – as a member of the EU – participates in the Government Procurement Agreement within the framework of the WTO.  SOEs purchase goods and services from private sector and foreign firms through public tenders.  SOEs are subject to budget constraints, with salary cuts imposed in the past few years on public sector jobs.

Privatization Program 

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF, or TAIPED in Greek), an independently operated but wholly owned subsidiary of HCAP since 2016, was established in 2011 under Greece’s bailout program to manage the sale or concession of major government assets, to raise substantial state revenue, and to bring in new technology and expertise for the commercial development of these assets.  These include listed and unlisted state-owned companies, infrastructure, and commercially valuable buildings and land.  Foreign and domestic investor participation in the privatization program has generally not been subject to restrictions, although the economic environment during the crisis and subsequent pandemic has challenged the domestic private sector’s ability to raise funds to purchase firms slated for privatization.

Privatizations are subject to a public bidding process, which is easy to understand, non-discriminatory, and transparent.  Notable privatizations recently completed include the transfer of the 66 percent of Greece’s gas transmission system operator DESFA to Senfluga Energy Infrastructure Holdings, the sale of 67 percent of the shares of Thessaloniki Port Authority, the decrease of shareholding in the Public Power Corporation in 2021 from 51 percent to 34 percent, and the sale of 100 percent of DEPA Infrastructure to Italgas completed in 2022.

As of early 2023, the Greek government was considering listing a 30 percent stake in the Athens International Airport on the Athens stock exchange. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, HRADF had shortlisted nine investors for a tender for the sale of a 30 percent stake but has been reviewing its options since the pandemic.  In January 2020, the government of Greece launched the legal procedures necessary for privatization of some regional ports, which will be privatized through either partial concession deals or full management schemes.  In January 2021, the European Commission gave the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation the approval to proceed with the construction of a road network linking the town of Trikala with the main Egnatia Motorway.

Awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR), including environmental, social, and governance issues, has been growing over the last decade among both producers and consumers in Greece.  Several enterprises, particularly large ones, in many fields of production and services, have accepted and now promote CSR principles.  Several non-profit business associations have emerged in the last few years (Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, Global Sustain, etc.) to disseminate CSR values and to promote them in the business world and society more broadly.  These groups’ members have incorporated programs that contribute to the sustainable economic development of the communities in which they operate; minimize the impacts of their activities on the environment and natural resources; create healthy and safe working conditions for their employees; provide equal opportunities for employment and professional development; and provide shareholders with satisfactory returns through responsible social and environmental management.  Greece has encouraged adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. There are no alleged/reported human or labor rights concerns relating to CSR that foreign businesses should be aware of.  Greece is not a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Greece signed the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies in 2009. It has also been a supporter of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers and is a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

Climate Issues

Greece’s current National Plan for Energy and Climate (NPEC), introduced in 2019, outlines a roadmap for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 42 percent in 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The government has since introduced draft legislation setting more ambitious GHG reduction targets in line with the European Union’s updated goals following the 2021 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting, with a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan is in accordance with the UN Agenda 2030 and the European Green Deal.

Greece also developed a National Strategy for Circular Economy, which addresses actions aimed at the optimal use of resources (energy, water, raw material) in every economic sector. Under a Green Financing Scheme, a series of financing incentives is foreseen for companies investing in circular economy and industrial symbioses, in water reuse after biological treatment. Innovation concerning sustainable green investments will also be supported. As of 2021, a National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change is also being developed, incorporating actions aiming at biodiversity conservation, more effective water resources management, and forest management.Greece has plans to phase out most lignite electricity production by 2028. By 2026, all new taxis and a third of new rental cars in Greece’s two largest cities, Athens and Thessaloniki, will have to be hybrid or electric vehicles. Greece still maintains its goal to eliminate the sales of new cars with internal combustion engines by 2030, five years ahead of the proposed date by the EU, however, this date is not binding.

The government has introduced several regulatory incentives to reduce emissions (see page 9).

Greece received a score of 52 out of 100 and ranked 51 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index.  The score increased by 3 points since 2021. Greece has steadily improved over the last ten years since scoring 36 out of 100 in 2012, partly due to mandatory structural reforms.  Despite these structural improvements, according to Transparency International’s 2022 reporting, Greece’s progress is threatened by concerns over the roll-back of the rule of law, the independence of the national transparency authority, and weak guarantees for the protection and safety of journalists. In mid-2022, the country’s intelligence service was accused of unlawfully spying on journalists, politicians from the opposition, and Members of the European Parliament.

Transparency International issued a report in 2018 criticizing the government for improper public procurement actions involving Greek government ministers and the recent appointment of the close advisor to the country’s prime minister to be the head of the Hellenic Competition Commission, which oversees the enforcement of anti-trust legislation. Transparency International released another report in October 2018, warning of the corruption risks posed by golden visa programs, mentioning Greece as a top issuer of golden visas. In Transparency International’s 2020 report, the organization outlined the costs directly stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, including cases of foreign bribery occurring in the health care sector.

According to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption review in 2021, Greece indicated GSAC, the Inspector-Controller Body for Public Administration (SEEDD), the Inspector-Controller Body for Public Works (SEDE) and the General Inspectorate of Public Administration (GIPA) were abolished, and their respective prerogatives were assigned to the National Transparency Authority (NTA) by virtue of Law 4622/2019, adopted in August 2019. Collaboration with civil society has become one of the competences of the NTA Directorate General for Awareness-Raising and Community Relations.

Greece is a signatory to the UN Anticorruption Convention.  As a signatory of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Government Officials and all relevant EU-mandated anti-corruption agreements, the Greek government is committed in principle to penalizing those who commit bribery in Greece or abroad.  Greek accession to other relevant conventions or treaties:

  • Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption: Signed June 8, 2000.  Ratified February 21, 2002.  Entry into force: November 1, 2003.
  • Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption: Signed January 27, 1999.  Ratified July 10, 2007.  Entry into force: November 1, 2007.
  • United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime: Signed on December 13, 2000.  Ratified January 11, 2011.

Resources to Report Corruption 

Watchdog Organization
Organization:  Transparency International Greece
Address: 19th Kanigos St, 106 77 Athens, Greece
Telephone number: +30-210-722-4940
Email address:  tihellas@otenet.gr 

There have been no major terrorist incidents in Greece in recent years; however, domestic groups conduct intermittent small-scale attacks such as targeted package bombs, improvised explosive devices, and unsophisticated incendiary devices (Molotov cocktails) typically targeting properties of political figures, party offices, privately owned vehicles, ministries, police stations, and businesses. In addition, domestic anarchist groups often carry out small-scale attacks targeting government buildings and foreign missions. Bilateral counterterrorism cooperation with the Greek government remains strong, and support from the Greek security services with respect to the protection of American interests is excellent. Demonstrations and protests are commonplace in large cities in Greece. While most of these demonstrations and strikes are peaceful and small-scale, they often cause temporary disruption to essential services and traffic, and anarchist groups are known in some cases to attach themselves to other demonstrations to create mayhem.

There is an adequate supply of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled labor in Greece, although some highly technical skills may be lacking, and Greece has struggled filling seasonal tourism and agriculture jobs in recent years. In July 2015, Parliament adopted a law regulating the status of non-EU foreign nationals recruited to work in the country as seasonal workers.

The labor force today is overwhelmingly composed of employees who have secondary or higher-level education. In December 2022, the unemployment rate in Greece was 11.6 percent, a decrease from the 12.8 percent unemployment rate in December 2021. In 2022, the unemployment rate among men was 8.7 percent, while among women it was 14.7 percent.  The unemployment rate among Greek citizens aged 15-24 years remains high at 31.3 percent.

According to a study commissioned by the European Parliament in 2022, Greece’s informal economy is among the highest in the EU. An informal economy, or shadow economy, is the part of any economy that is neither taxed nor monitored by any form of government.

In Greece, the study estimates the shadow economy rose to 20.9 percent of GDP in 2022 from 20.3 percent in 2021. Asylum-seekers are eligible to apply for a work permit once they complete their first asylum interview; however, the procedures for obtaining this permit were not widely understood by asylum-seekers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or government officials. As of February 2021, the Greek Asylum Service had 74,934 cases pending. Recognized refugees are entitled to the same labor rights as Greek nationals. NGOs and government officials working in migrant sites have reported that some asylum-seekers perform undeclared seasonal agricultural labor in rural areas.

In April 2019, Greece announced a wage subsidy scheme called “Rebrain Greece,” which provides 500 talented Greeks that moved abroad during the financial crisis with a €3,000 monthly salary if they return to Greece.  The program hopes to reinvigorate high-skilled sectors of the economy. In December 2020, the Greek Parliament passed Law 4758 that involved a tax break for those foreign nationals who would transfer their tax residence to Greece. Digital nomads who choose to work in Greece can take advantage of a 50 percent tax break for their first seven years of residency.

Greece has ratified International Labor Organization (ILO) Core Conventions.  Specific legislation provides for the right of association and the rights to strike, organize, and bargain collectively.  Greek law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, conduct their activities without interference, and strike.  The establishment of trade unions in enterprises with fewer than 20 workers is prohibited.  In 2020, the parliament separately passed legislation requiring prior and timely announcements – in writing or via email – of demonstrations to the appropriate police or Coast Guard authorities. Greek labor laws set a minimum age (15) and wage for employment, determine acceptable work conditions and minimum occupational health and safety standards, define working hours, limit overtime, and apply certain rules for the dismissal of personnel.  There is a difference between national minimum wage in the private sector for unspecialized workers aged 25 or older and workers below 25 years of age.

In 2021, Parliament passed Law 4808/2021 to try to modernize domestic employment law to better align with new economic, social, and technological challenges. The law set rules for teleworking, introduced paternity leave, expanded flexible work arrangements, and included safeguards against workplace sexual harassment. It also equalized the termination requirements for blue-collar and white-collar employees, while introducing a list of prohibited reasons for termination.

The government sets restrictions on mass dismissals in private and public companies employing more than 20 workers.  Dismissals exceeding in number the limits set by law require consultations through the Supreme Labor Council (with worker, employer, and government representatives participating), and government authorization.  Government competency for approving dismissals lies with the Ministry of Labor’s Secretary General.

Law 4808/2021 re-established the Hellenic Labor Inspectorate as an independent body to ensure the application of labor law and inspect for the health and safety of workers. In addition, the Labor Inspectorate helps ensure that employers are providing statutory insurance coverage for employees, which helps decrease undeclared labor. The organization has administrative and financial autonomy and is only subject to parliamentary supervision.

Wage laws are not always enforced.  Unions and media have alleged that some private businesses forced their employees to return part of their wages and mandatory seasonal bonuses, in cash, after being deposited in the bank.  Several employees were reportedly registered as part-time workers but in essence worked additional hours without being paid.  In other cases, employees were paid after months of delays and oftentimes with coupons and not in cash.  Cases of employment for up to 30 consecutive days of work without weekends off were also reported.  Such violations were mostly noted in the tourism, agriculture, and housekeeping services sectors.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) insurance coverage for U.S. investment in Greece is currently available on an exceptional basis.  DFC considers Greece a high-income country but is authorized to operate business in Greece under the Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 under certain circumstances.  OPIC, DFC’s predecessor and the Greek Export Credit Insurance Organization signed an agreement in April 1994 to exchange information relating to private investment, particularly in the Balkans.  Other insurance programs offering coverage for investments in Greece include the German investment guarantee program HERMES, the French agency COFACE, the Swedish Export Credits Guarantee Board (EKN), the British Export Credits Guarantee Facility (ECGF), and the Austrian Kontrollbank (OKB).  Greece became a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 1989.

Please note that the following tables include FDI statistics from three different sources, and therefore will not be identical.  Table 2 uses BEA data when available, which measures the stock of FDI by the market value of the investment in the year the investment was made (often referred to as historical value).  This approach tends to undervalue the present value of FDI stock because it does not account for inflation.  BEA data is not available for all countries, particularly if only a few U.S. firms have direct investments in a country.  In such cases, Table 2 uses other sources that typically measure FDI stock in current value (or historical values adjusted for inflation).  Even when Table 2 uses BEA data, Table 3 uses the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS) to determine the top five sources of FDI in the country.  The CDIS measures FDI stock in current value, which means that if the U.S. is one of the top five sources of inward investment, U.S. FDI into the country will be listed in this table.  That value will come from the CDIS and therefore will not match the BEA data.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy 
  Host Country Statistical source*  USG or international statistical source  USG or International
Source of Data:  BEA; IMF;
Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data  Year  Amount  Year  Amount   
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)  2021  $193.5  billion  2021  $214.9  billion   


Foreign Direct Investment  Host Country Statistical source**  USG or international statistical source  USG or international
Source of data:  BEA; IMF;
Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)  2021  $1.4 billion  209  $303



BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)  2021  $264  million  2021  $N/A  BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP  2021  N/A 2021  19.5% UNCTAD data available at https://www.statista.com/

* Source for Host Country Data: www.statistics.gr

* * Source for Host Country Data: https://www.bankofgreece.gr/en/statistics/external-sector/direct-investment/direct-investment—stocks 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI 
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data 
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions) 
Inward Direct Investment  Outward Direct Investment 
Total Inward  27,263 100% Total Outward  10,429  100%
Germany  6,830 25.1%  Cyprus  5,710 54.8%
Luxembourg  6,602 24.2%  United States  836  8% 
Netherlands  7,236 26.5%  Bulgaria  1,687 16.1% 
Switzerland  3,244  11.9%  Netherlands  1,418 13.6% 
France 3,351 12.3%  Serbia 778 7.5%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000. 

The results are consistent with  country data found here: https://www.bankofgreece.gr/en/statistics/external-sector/direct-investment/direct-investment—stocks 

Elizabeth Parsons, Economic Associate
U.S. Embassy Athens,
Leof. Vasilissis Sofias 91,
Athina 115 21, Greece
+30 210-720-2308

On This Page

  2.  1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 
    1. Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment 
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment 
    3.  Other Investment Policy Reviews 
    4. Business Facilitation 
    5. Outward Investment 
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties  
  4. 3. Legal Regime 
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System 
    2. International Regulatory Considerations 
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence 
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment 
    5. Competition and Anti-Trust Laws 
    6. Expropriation and Compensation 
    7. Dispute Settlement 
      1. ICSID Convention and New York Convention 
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement 
    8. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts 
    9. Bankruptcy Regulations 
  5. 4. Industrial Policies 
    1. Investment Incentives 
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation 
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements 
      1. Research and Development 
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights 
    1. Real Property 
    2. Intellectual Property Rights 
      1. Resources for Rights Holders 
  7. 6. Financial Sector 
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment 
    2. Money and Banking System 
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances 
      1. Foreign Exchange 
      2. Remittance Policies 
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds 
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises 
    1. Privatization Program 
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct 
  10. Additional Resources
    1. Climate Issues
  11. 9. Corruption 
    1. Resources to Report Corruption 
  12. 10. Political and Security Environment 
  13. 11. Labor Policies and Practices 
  14. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs 
  15. 13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics 
  16. 14. Contact for More Information 
2023 Investment Climate Statements: Greece
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