Improvements in the European economy and recent internal developments within Greece suggest that now would be a good time for overseas companies looking to set up a business in Greece to start taking steps to bring these plans to fruition.
KPAG Kosmidis & Partners is a Greek law firm with lawyers who specialise in working with English-speaking businesses in Greece. Our lawyers are ideally qualified to help and advise international companies as they go through the process of establishing trade links with Greece, or setting up business operations within the country.
Positive economic picture
There are currently encouraging economic signs across the European Union, with recent figures released by the European Commission (EC) suggesting that the EU economy is starting to come out of the recession that was so dominant and damaging throughout 2012. Predictions are that the economy across Europe will stabilise in the first six months of 2013, with GDP growth starting to turn positive in the latter half of the year and then continuing to gain ground into 2014.
EC initiatives target Greece
As a business destination, Greece has recently been the focus of a great deal of attention from the EC. A recent EC initiative has seen the representatives of more than 138 European companies come to Greece to meet with Greek owners and managers of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) about the prospects for future collaborations, including ventures such as trade partnerships, investment, and joint undertakings.
The EC notes that SMEs in Greece have faced a number of difficulties in the last few years; however the Greek government has implemented a number of reforms that have had a positive effect on the Greek economy and business opportunities within Greece.
Greek labour market
One of the areas targeted by reforms is the Greek labour market, which has historically suffered from high unemployment rates, caused in part by a rigid wage structure that was not in line with worker productivity. The Greek Government has attempted to tackle this problem through a number of reforms, including creating opportunities for firm-level pay agreements and reductions in minimum wages.
This improved labour market increases Greece’s appeal as a business destination, but there are undoubtedly a number of challenges involved in employing staff in an overseas country. Therefore, any foreign company looking to operate in Greece is advised to take advice from professional Greek lawyers to ensure they do not fall foul of any employment laws or regulations. Kosmidis & Partners Law Firm has lawyers who are highly experienced in Greek labour law and are available to advise all foreign businesses on any legal obligations with regard to their staff in Greece.
Greece looking to establish trade links
According to EC figures, Greek exports look set for another good year, making 2013 the fourth year in a row where exports have grown. The Greek Foreign Trade Board apparently has over 60 different trade initiatives organised for 2013, including the participation in a number of international trade fairs.
Through these initiatives, Greece is opening its doors to businesses looking to expand their international markets. At Kosmidis & Partners, our lawyers are ready to advise you in all aspects of doing business in Greece, including:
- Setting up a limited liability company
- Mergers and acquisitions in Greece
- Greek competition law
- Debt recovery, and
- Tax law
The improving economic situation in Greece has not gone unnoticed. In a recent report produced by the World Bank on doing business in Greece, the country’s ranking improved from 89 to 78, a rise of 11 places, placing Greece in the top ten reformers worldwide.
European right to freedom of movement
As well as continuing to make its own internal reforms to increase foreign and domestic business opportunities, Greece, like all other EU Member States, continues to be subject to new laws and amendments coming from the EC and the European Parliament that are designed to reduce barriers to trade.
The EC has recently proposed a new measure to improve the application of EU law on people's right to work in another Member State.
According to EC figures, there were 6.6 million EU citizens living and working in a Member State other than their own in 2012. A further 1.2 million people apparently live in one EU country while working in another.
However, people working in another country can face a number of difficulties, and a Eurobarometer poll carried out September 2011 found that around 15% of EU citizens wouldn’t want to work in another Member State because there are too many obstacles to overcome. These obstacles include issues such as:
- Differing recruitment conditions.
- Access to certain posts is restricted by nationality conditions.
- Differing working conditions in practice (such as pay and future career prospects).
- Non-recognition of professional qualifications and experience acquired in other Member States.
EU legislation already exists to tackle these issues, but is not always adequately implemented in all Member States. The EC’s proposal would address this problem by requiring Member States to take a number of steps to improve the implementation of EU law.
László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, described the free movement of workers across the EU as a key principle of the EU's Single Market.
“Labour mobility is a win—win – it benefits both Member States' economies and the individual workers concerned,” he explained. “This proposal will help workers to overcome obstacles to working in another EU country."
Overseas companies that have set up business in Greece will usually have a number of options when it comes to staffing these businesses. One option could be to recruit local staff to work for them, or alternatively, the company could look at transferring staff from other office locations to work in its Greek operations.
The prospect of negotiating another country’s rules and regulations relating to the recruitment and employment of staff can at first appear rather daunting for companies, but using local Greek lawyers can help to make the whole process much more straightforward.
The lawyers at Kosmidis & Partners are highly experienced in all aspects of Greek business and labour law, and will be able to guide overseas businesses through all the necessary steps involved in setting up a local base of operations in Greece and employing the necessary staff.