In Greece, industry plays a smaller role for the economy than in most Western countries. Mainly, textiles, clothing and shoes, food, tobacco, chemicals, metal and cement are manufactured. Oil refineries are also available.
Most factories and companies are located around Athens and Thessaloniki. A large number of small family businesses dominate and the products are mainly sold on the domestic market.
The state has a relatively large influence on business, but since the 1990s various governments have tried to accelerate the sale of loss-making state-owned companies. The sale of state-owned enterprises was also a key condition for EU and IMF support loans during the 2008 economic crisis (see Finance). Productivity in the Greek manufacturing industry is well below the EU average and few Greek companies have been competitive in the EU market.
The textile and shoe industry has declined since the late 1990s due to competition from low-cost countries, while production has increased in the paper, rubber, plastics and chemical industries as well as the brewery and oil industries. The cement and metal industries have stagnated, while the shipbuilding industry has performed fairly well.
The construction industry benefited from the major port, road and airport projects that were implemented before the Athens Olympics in 2004. Many other construction projects have been realized thanks to EU financial support.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Greece. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
The government wants to send thousands of migrants back to Turkey
The government announces that it will begin sending migrants back to Turkey to try to ease the problem of overcrowded camps on islands in the southern Aegean. Not least the island of Lesbos has received many migrants, over 10,000, in the last three months. The overcrowded camps have caused security problems such as fires and unrest. According to government plans, 10,000 migrants are expected to be returned to Turkey by the end of 2020.
The government wants to repay IMF loans in advance
In an effort to save money, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is asking for Greece to repay IMF loans early. According to news sources, the IMF loan is close to EUR 3 billion, which is a total of EUR 8.8 billion. According to Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Greece could thus save as much as 70 million euros which would otherwise go to interest payments. Greece’s debt burden remains heavy, in 2018 the central government debt represented about 180 percent of GDP.
Taxes are lowered and police and health care professionals are increased
Greece’s new center-right government, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, wins a vote of confidence in Parliament. Tax cuts are announced, earlier than expected. In the election movement, Mitsotakis promised, among other things, a reduced property tax until 2020, but a first reduction is already coming this year. In addition, the corporate tax rate is reduced. 1,500 new police officers are to be recruited to the cities and approximately 2,000 healthcare workers to Greek hospitals.
Greece recognizes Venezuela’s Guaido
The new Greek right-wing government announces that Greece will follow the general EU line and recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president. The former left government under Alexis Tsipras had chosen not to do so.
Great victory for New democracy
The right-wing party New democracy wins the newly announced parliamentary elections by a large margin. New democracy gets 39.9 percent of the vote compared to 31.5 percent for the reigning Syriza. The result gives New Democracy 158 of Parliament’s 300 seats and Syriza 86 (the winning party is awarded 50 extra seats). In third place comes the Movement for Change with just over 8 percent of the vote and 22 seats, followed by the Communist Party, which gets just over 5 percent and 15 seats. Two newcomers – Greek solution and MeRA25 – receive 3.7 and 3.4 percent respectively, giving 10 and 9 mandates, respectively. Alien hostile Golden Dawn ends at 2.9 percent and thus does not enter parliament. The turnout is close to 58 percent.
Independent Greeks do not participate in the elections
The Right Party Independent Greeks will not take part in the parliamentary elections on July 7, according to party leader Panos Kammenos, former defense minister in Alexis Tsipra’s coalition government. The reason is mainly the party’s poor performance in the European elections in May, when it received only about 0.8 percent of the vote.
Landslide victory for the opposition in local elections
The largest opposition party, bourgeois New Democracy, wins in 12 of Greece’s 13 regions shows the results after the second round of local and regional elections. In the first round of elections held on May 26 at the same time as the EU elections, the party took power in five of the country’s regions. In Athens, a nephew of New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotaki becomes mayor.
Parliamentary elections in July
Prime Minister Tsipras announces that he will ask the president to announce parliamentary elections as early as July 7, due to poor Syrian government’s repercussions in the May 26 EU elections and the local elections held at the same time. In the local elections, early forecasts show a big victory for the opposition party New Democracy. Parliamentary elections must be held by October this year.
Syriza backs in the EU elections
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipra’s Syriza party loses voter support in European elections. According to preliminary results, the party receives around 24 percent of the vote, which is a decline of nine percentage points, and six parliamentary seats. The main competitor conservative New Democracy, on the other hand, is supported by a third of voters, which means the party gets 7 seats in the European Parliament.
Greece concludes refugee agreement with Portugal
According to the Greek Ministry of Migration, Portugal has agreed to gradually move 1000 refugees and asylum seekers there. Over 70,000 refugees and migrants are in Greece and several of them live in overcrowded camps in the Greek island world. The situation is particularly difficult on Lesbos and Samos. The problems have been caused, among other things, by problems in the handling of asylum cases, but it is also according to the Greek government that other EU countries do not receive asylum seekers.
Increase of the minimum wage
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announces that the minimum wage from February will be increased by 11 percent, from EUR 586 to 650. The play was seen as a way for Tsipras and his party Syriza to try to improve their opinion figures ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will take place at the latest in October. Right-wing New Democracy has a major advantage over Syriza in opinion polls.
Parliament approves Northern Macedonia agreement
With 153 votes to 146, Parliament finally approves the controversial and much-debated “Prespe Agreement” with the Macedonian government. The agreement gives Greece the neighboring country in the north the right to change its name to Northern Macedonia. As a result, the dispute between the countries that has been going on for 27 years is over. The debate in Parliament goes on for close to 40 hours. Members of the right-wing extremists Golden Dawn believe that the approval means treason and even the middle-right opposition is strongly critical.
Thousands protest in Athens against the Macedonia agreement
According to police, around 60,000 people are participating in protests in Athens against the agreement with Macedonia to change the country’s name to Northern Macedonia. There is strong criticism that the Greek government is willing to agree to the name change, as many believe that only the Greek province of the north is called Macedonia. In addition, the inhabitants should be called Macedonians and the language of Macedonian makes them even more upset. The Greek Parliament is expected to vote on the agreement this week (see also July 2018). Participants in the protests come from all over the country, not least from the northern parts, and they also have different party affiliation – from the far right to the far left. About 30 masked protesters, who throw stones at the parliament building, are met with tear gas by the police.
Tsipras wins the vote of confidence
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is able to pass a vote of confidence in parliament by a marginal margin. When Defense Minister Kammenos recently left the government along with a few more ministers from his party Independent Greeks, the Tsipras government lost its majority in parliament. Tsipra’s request is therefore a vote on the confidence of the government. Of 300 members (299 present), 151 choose to support Tsipras while 148 vote against.
Regional gas forum is formed
Seven countries in the eastern Mediterranean agree to establish regional cooperation on gas extraction, with the Cairo office. Those behind the Eastern Mediterranean gas forum, which will be the organization’s name, are Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Natural gas has been found in several places in the eastern Mediterranean in recent years and some of the countries already have bilateral extraction agreements.
Defense Minister Kammenos resigns
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, party leader of the Nationalist Party Independent Greeks (Anel), announces that he is resigning in protest of the government’s agreement on the name issue with Macedonia. Anel’s other six ministers also leave the government. Macedonia’s parliament voted on 11 January to change its name to Northern Macedonia. However, for the change of name to take place, the Greek parliament must also approve the settlement.