GIG: When it comes to Greece’s operating environment, what is the first thing you say to foreign investors?
Stamatelou: The Greek market has the potential for business development in sectors such as tourism, real estate, energy, and agriculture. Numerous incentives do exist, but they are fragmented and scattered across different laws. Under professional guidance, however, foreign investors may gain significant benefits depending on the type of their preferred sector.
GIG: Where do foreign businesses encounter the most problems when setting up in Greece?
Stamatelou: Problems with regards to setting up a business in Greece include bureaucracy and delays in project licensing. However, the recently amended legal framework, which provides fast-tracking procedures, especially for strategic investments (i.e. large projects with a positive and long-lasting impact on the national economy), can be considered an important development.
GIG: What incentives are there for businesses to get started in Greece?
Stamatelou: There are a variety of incentives provided by the existing framework (investment laws and other legislation) that could be summarised as follows:
- Fast-tracking procedures in setting up a company;
- Incentives for employment;
- Golden Visa scheme;
- Research and development (R&D) incentives;
- Specific incentives for spatial development.
GIG: Over the last few years, there have been several reforms to improve Greece’s business environment. Which of these reforms do you believe are the most important? Where is more work needed?
Stamatelou: Greece has struggled to attract investments for several years. Very few projects have been implemented until now. The latest reform to the strategic investments legal framework seems to be of major importance in attracting new investors to Greece. The new framework refers to more sectors of the economy providing fast-tracking procedures. That the Greek economy seems to be stabilising, and that there is a consensus between political parties on the necessity of an investment-friendly environment alongside with the liberalisation of several sectors, appear to be the most important elements in shaping expectations for development and growth.