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The Buzz in Greece: Interview with Panagiotis Drakopoulos

The Buzz in Greece: Interview with Panagiotis Drakopoulos

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Things seem to be picking up a bit in Greece, according to Drakopoulos Managing Partner Panagiotis Drakopoulos — but he knows better than to relax. "I’m much more hopeful than I was last year,” he says, “but you have to adapt to the environment. You can only hear so many times that 'now things are changing.’ We’ve heard this for three or four years, but things don’t, in fact, change. The same thing happened in 2014 — things picked up a lot, and then the crisis hit again.” He sighs. “We definitely have more work than last year, but I don’t see a clear path to the light at the end of the tunnel, so it’s hard to be too confident about how things will develop.” 

Still, for the moment at least, Drakopoulos reports a noticeable increase in work, driven in large part by business related to the General Data Protection Regulation. "We are doing a lot of GDPR work,” Drakopoulos says. "It’s the new thing.” He says that his firm created a special team for GDPR compliance in all its four offices (in Greece, Romania, Albania, and Cyprus) at the beginning of the year, but that it in fact he and his colleagues “have been doing a lot of data protection work for the past 15 years or so, so it’s something we know and don’t have to invent. We know what it’s all about.” 

The GDPR isn’t the only cause for optimism. Drakopoulos says “the climate is slightly better, and there is interest in investments.” He says, “we’re working on some with foreign investors on potential deals — one is in real estate and the other is in agriculture — so, though no deals have been closed yet, things are moving better.” In addition, he says, "real estate is active — it’s starting to move. You can see that the prices that are picking up. But everyone is waiting to see what might happen. They are waiting for the economy to stabilize."

And Drakopoulos is skeptical that the government will be able to help much with that process. "They have the new incentives law for investment,” he says, "but things are so volatile, that they start one thing, then they negate it with another thing. The problem we have is that we need stability and credibility. It’s hard to say that the tax environment alone is enough."

Ultimately, Drakopoulos believes that, after so many years of disappointment, it’s simply too soon to claim the dark days are over. “I’m reserved,” he says. “We’ll have to see. Things are very volatile. It depends on how the economy will evolve.”