OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Greece 2017

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Author(s):
OECD
25 Apr 2017
Pages:
332
ISBN:
9789264088276 (PDF) ;9789264266377(print)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264088276-en

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This report analyses Greek legislation in a number of sectors and identifies about 350 legal provisions which could be removed or amended to lift regulatory barriers to competition. The work undertaken in the project has involved the review of over 1 200 pieces of legislation in these sectors of the economy, using the OECD Competition Assessment Toolkit. The analysis of the legislation and of the Greek sectors has been complemented by research into international experience and consultation with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The OECD has developed recommendations to remove or modify the provisions in order to be less restrictive for suppliers and consumers, while still achieving Greek policy makers’ initial objectives. If these recommendations are implemented, benefits to consumers in Greece and to the Greek economy should arise in all sectors. Throughout this report, the authors identify the sources of those benefits and, where possible, provide quantitative estimates.

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  • Foreword and Acknowledgments

    After suffering one of the longest and most serious economic crises ever experienced by any European country, which resulted in a severe drop of real GDP and major losses in employment and incomes, the Greek economy is projected to improve in 2016-2017. Progress has been made in balancing the budget and implementing significant labour market and fiscal reforms.

  • Preface by HE Georgios Stathakis

    The aftershock of the global crisis in 2008 struck hard the Greek economy, which suffered an eightyear long recession and lost 26 % of its GDP. Since taking office, the current government’s top priority has been to secure the country’s return to sustainable and inclusive economic growth that will alleviate the inequalities incurred by the crisis and boost employment. A key element in this direction is to create a proper institutional framework that will boost investment and innovation, which are the drivers of a competitive economy. In this regard, product market reforms pursued in the context of the current OECD Competition Assessment Review are crucial, as they secure equal rules for all market stakeholders and promote the restriction of bottlenecks in their operation. The current project focused on five key sectors, namely, wholesale trade, manufacturing, e-commerce, media, and construction.

  • Preface by Maarten Verwey

    While Greece’s economy is slowly moving towards recovery, many people in Greece remain doubtful about the future. After the long years of economic adjustment, they are wondering whether this economy will be for everyone or just for the lucky few.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive summary

    The OECD was asked to carry out an independent policy assessment to identify rules and regulations that may hinder the competitive and efficient functioning of markets in five sectors of the Greek economy: e-commerce, construction, media, wholesale trade, and selected sub-sectors of manufacturing, such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    This assessment identifies distortions to competition in the Greek legislation. It proposes recommendations for the removal of regulatory barriers to competition in five sectors of the Greek economy: e-commerce, construction, media, wholesale trade, and selected subsectors of manufacturing. Five hundred and seventy-seven potential regulatory restrictions were identified and analysed, and this report makes 356 specific recommendations to remove potential barriers and increase competition. The resulting benefits will include lower prices and greater choice for consumers as new, more efficient firms enter the market or existing firms adopt innovative forms of production. This report identifies the sources of those benefits and, where possible, provides quantitative estimates. If the particular quantified restrictions are lifted and the expected effects are realised, the OECD estimates that the positive impact on the Greek economy will be around EUR 414 million.

  • E-commerce

    Much of the legislation related to e-commerce is governed by or reliant upon EU legislation. Both EU and national laws in the relevant areas are currently under review, principally within the framework of the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy. The assessment of this sector looked at the core law on e-commerce, as well as other legislation directly or indirectly affecting it. Potential barriers to competition were found principally in the area of consumer protection, which is currently fragmented, with conflicting definitions and unclear provisions. Simplifying, streamlining and codifying consumer-protection legislation will remove legal uncertainty and compliance costs; better serve e-commerce providers, who rely on automated and standardized processes; level the playing field with foreign providers; and boost consumer confidence in making online purchases – and so remove impediments to growth in the sector.

  • Construction

    The construction sector includes construction of buildings and civil engineering works, and numerous categories of economic activity, such as new works, repairs, additions and alterations. Recent legislative reforms, in particular, in the area of public procurement, have aimed to simplify and codify the regulatory framework. Despite these efforts, issues remain, including reform of the registry-based classification system for market operators and eligibility for tenders, and the need to ensure that the price-list system – which forms the basis of tenders for public works – is functioning correctly and is regularly updated. Eprocurement and e-monitoring of public works are expected to have a long-term positive effect both on the cost of public works and on public revenue, yet the necessary integrated or interoperable electronic information systems are still to be introduced.

  • Media

    Particular regulatory barriers to competition in the media sector were identified in publishing activities, programme production, radio and pay-TV broadcasting activities. These are often created by the non-implementation of legislation that is both outdated and fragmented. For example, the most recent legal framework for radio licensing has been in force since 2007, yet the relevant tenders have never been issued. The legal framework should be codified and various obsolete provisions should be removed. Restrictions regarding years of previous operation or circulation for radio licences, and public subsidies for the printed press have also been addressed. Limitations to the selection of programme suppliers to pay-TV broadcasters, as well as outdated licensing procedures and costs, reduce incentives to invest and adopt new technologies. Finally, the production of audio-visual content only by producers fulfilling specific requirements constitutes a barrier to entry in the profession and to the development of independent audiovisual producers. The following recommendations should contribute to simplifying the business environment and increasing consumer choice.

  • Chemicals and rubber, electrical equipment, paper and printing

    Manufacture and wholesale trade of chemicals and rubber products, electrical equipment, paper and paper products, and printing and reproduction of recorded media are covered in this chapter. Regulatory barriers to competition are identified in the detergents and biocides industries, especially in terms of product trading (i.e. selling in bulk, prevention of umbrellabranding) and the licensing of manufacturing facilities. For cosmetics, products’ primary and secondary functions should be recognised by Greek legislation in line with EU guidance, helping suppliers and enhancing product mix. Abolishing excise duty on isopropyl alcohol would result in lower prices and in an increase of the competitiveness of Greek manufacturers that use it as a raw material. The alignment of the administrative registration and conformity marks of sockets and plugs will facilitate suppliers’ operations and enhance consumer protection. The cumulative effect of the recommendations will be to make markets more open and competitive, to the benefit of consumers.

  • Pharmaceuticals

    The pharmaceutical industry makes a significant contribution to GDP, employment and economic health, and constitutes a prominent and growth-enhancing area of economic activity in Greece. Its regulatory framework is apt to significant state involvement with the critical objective of public-health protection. The economic and social importance of this sector increases the need for consistently applied rules and regulations, which must find a balance between efficiency, effectiveness and inclusive growth. Currently, competition appears hindered by legislation restricting various aspects of pharmaceuticals, creating differential treatment of economic agents and legal uncertainty. These include pricing mechanisms that do not allow generics to exploit their price advantages; an advertising framework for over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) that may lead to price rigidities; limitations on scientific events that burden marketing strategies; and operational restrictions on pharmaceutical warehouses that may lead to wholesale trade inefficiencies. The implementation of these recommendations would enable the achievement of healthprotection policy objectives, while strengthening economic activity through fairer and more efficient practices and mechanisms.

  • Wholesale Trade

    The wholesale trade sector includes all major activities that form the supply chain of products before they reach the final consumer. Provisions restrictive to competition were identified between operators in the same market. For example, the organised wholesale trade of fruit, vegetables and meat products through the central markets of Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras operates on the basis of exclusivity clauses. In the fuel-trading sector, certain obligations included in exclusive supply agreements between wholesalers and retailers are safeguarded by law. Finally, much of the legislation covering the transportation of goods appears redundant or to have been horizontally replaced by newer legislation. Yet the level of regulatory uncertainty remains high even among the public administration officials charged with applying provisions and imposing fines.

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    • Methodology

      This study covers five sectors of the Greek economy. These are e-commerce, construction, media, wholesale trade and selected manufacturing sub-sectors not already reviewed in the first two Competition Assessment Projects. The manufacturing sub-sectors covered by the study are as follows, accompanied by the corresponding codes according to the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE): paper and paper products (NACE code 17), printing and reproduction of recorded media (NACE code 18), chemicals and chemical products (NACE code 20), basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations (NACE code 21), rubber and plastic products (NACE code 22) and electrical equipment (NACE code 27). The sectors were selected, in consultation with the Ministry of Economy and the European Commission’s SRSS, based on their value added and employment (2008-2013 averages).

    • Legislation screening by sector
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