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OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Greece

image of OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Greece

The work undertaken by the Greek authorities in recent years to reinforce competition law and the Hellenic Competition Commission, to simplify business administration and to liberalise professional services have demonstrated the political willingness to address the problem of existing regulatory barriers to competition that have contributed to holding back the economic recovery.

The OECD Competition Assessment Project, through the scrutiny of legislation in four sectors of the Greek economy, food processing, retail trade, building materials and tourism, has identified 336 areas where particular reform can be undertaken, from a total of 539 provisions that were selected using the OECD Competition Assessment Toolkit.

If our recommendations are implemented, benefits to consumers in Greece and to the Greek economy should arise in all four sectors. Throughout this report, we seek to identify the sources of those benefits and where possible provide quantitative estimates. Estimates are made on the basis of experiences of deregulation in other countries in some instances, or by relating conservative estimates of efficiency gains to the overall size of the business activity affected.

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Retail trade

Although recent legislation enacted in 2013 has addressed the issues of Sunday trading and the distribution of products and services, the deregulation has been only partial, and restrictive provisions still harm competition. Obstacles remain for larger stores and chains to adopt more flexible hours; there are also continuing restrictions on season sales, discounts and promotions. The restriction on distribution channels of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, and the establishment and operation of pharmacies all limit competition and lead to under-investment in these areas. Limitations for outdoor trade and street markets, fuel retail and the pricing of books lead to a rigid retail process, inefficient distribution channels and limited incentives for innovation. The study examines the harm to competition and quantifies the benefits for both consumers and retailers in terms of both increased employment and greater investment in the sector. Total consumer benefits are estimated at around EUR 3.34 billion a year from full liberalisation. Two annexes provide more detail in the form of a quantitative study on the impact of liberalising Sunday trading and a cross-Europe study of over-the-counter medicines and diet supplements.

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