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The Buzz in Greece: Interview with Nassos Felonis of Bahas, Gramatidis & Partners

The Buzz in Greece: Interview with Nassos Felonis of Bahas, Gramatidis & Partners

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Even with the delta variant being prominent in Greece, the country seems to be on an upward trajectory, according to Nassos Felonis, Partner at Bahas, Gramatidis & Partners.

“The overall political landscape is very stable,” Felonis starts. “The government is very solid – it has a parliamentary majority and the support of Greek people, not only regarding the economy and development but also on handling the Covid situation since day one.” Felonis says this is especially important, given the spread of the delta variant in Greece and an overall fear of another wave of the new coronavirus in the fall.

“The good thing is that the vaccination efforts have started off strong,” Felonis continues but does say it has since slowed down. “This is most likely to do with one part of the population being wary of the potential side effects the vaccines might have, and another, although smaller, part being against the vaccines altogether.” The initial goal of the government was to have about 80% of the population vaccinated come fall, but this seems unlikely at the time. “Another problem is that the opposition parties, while agreeing in principle with the government’s vaccination efforts, are not clearly aligned on specific measures, such as the mandatory vaccination of certain categories of workers – this could only further slow things down,” Felonis says.

With all the good work the Greek government has done, Felonis underlines several things. “Firstly, there has been a major revision of the labor law framework which aligned the system more with EU standards and practices,” he says. Now, there is a higher degree of flexibility for employers and employees to make arrangements related to work schedules, Felonis says, and this will make the economy more competitive. He adds that “the new Law establishes clear rules on the prevention of violence and harassment in the workplace, balance of work and family life, remote working, etc.”

“Secondly, the government has introduced a swath of initiatives related to public education, allowing universities to have more autonomy and tailor their work & programs to market needs more,” Felonis continues. “Creating these linkages, not only between the universities and the market but also between domestic universities and major educational centers in the UK and the US, will lead to our students being better prepared professionally and being more culturally savvy.”

Finally, turning to the economy, Felonis says that 2021 is looking good so far. “After last year, we can honestly say that things are picking up and that this year looks more like 2019, at least when it comes to the tourism sector,” he says. Also, Felonis highlights the establishment of the “Recovery and Resilience Facility” (RRF), a central part of the overall “NextGenerationEU” Plan, which has been created to alleviate the negative effects the pandemic had on certain sectors of the economy. “The development aspect of the program, which has been approved by the European Commission, will see Greece receive about EUR 30.5 billion, 17.8 billion in grants and 12.7 billion in loans. This, coupled with private and banking funds to be involved in development projects, could potentially reach approximately EUR 70 billion,” he says. These funds will, firstly, be directed towards infrastructure works and the digitalization of the economy. “The government has made a strong effort of rapidly digitalizing public administration and services,” Felonis notes.

Other parts of the funds, Felonis says, will be directed towards green, renewable energy sources. “Large Greek companies are investing already, by issuing so-called ‘green bonds’ in order to finance renewable energy sources,” Felonis continues. “Not just solar and wind, but also to create energy storage facilities, to invest in natural gas distribution networks, provide incentives for the gradual use of electric cars, as well as for start-ups, limiting energy waste, uplifting public buildings and private housing through incentives to have them more environmentally friendly and less energy-hungry.” This initiative, he says, started in June of this year and will unfold over the next five-year period, creating great prospects and opportunities for the economy and society in general.