21. Greece

This country profile describes current inclusive entrepreneurship policy issues and recent developments in Greece, including policy responses to COVID-19. It also benchmarks self-employment and entrepreneurship indicators for women, youth, seniors and immigrants against the average for the European Union.

Framework conditions for entrepreneurship are improving, notably due to efforts to streamline regulations and boost the access to finance for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Recent progress includes a general business registry one-stop shop (2018) which led to a 70% reduction in registration costs. However, domestic market conditions remain challenging. Many inclusive entrepreneurship policies and programmes are operated at the national level by the employment agency and the majority of these public actions have been realised with support from European Union (EU) Structural Funds and international donors. Youth entrepreneurship is well-established with many actions being implemented through the Youth Employment Initiative.

Early-stage entrepreneurship rates were about equal to the EU average for the period 2016-20 (about 6%). However, more than one-quarter of new entrepreneurs reported starting their business out of necessity – significantly higher than the EU average (28% vs. 18%). Gaps in early-stage entrepreneurship rates across population groups were also quite pronounced. Removing these differences (i.e. applying the early-stage entrepreneurship rate of core-age men to the whole population) would result in an additional 68 000 entrepreneurs. Most of these “missing” entrepreneurs are women and about half are over 50 years old.

The share of working people who are self-employed is very high in Greece. In 2020, the self-employment rate was double the EU average (28% vs. 14%). Seniors and youth, the most affected by the persisting effects of the financial crisis, have the highest self-employment rates.

A number of emergency measures were introduced to support entrepreneurs and the self-employed, including the suspension of tax and social security contributions (excluding VAT) for the self-employed and freelancers among others. Between 17 March and 30 April 2020, 480 810 freelancers, self-employed and individual business owners (less than 20 employees) received a state benefit of EUR 800 and an additional 178 538 beneficiaries received an exceptional financial support of EUR 300 or EUR 534 from 1 May to 31 May 2020. Additional financial aid was extended in December 2020, including the reimbursement of 2019 social security contributions to 158 600 self-employed, freelancers and farmers (total of EUR 135 million). In March 2021, “GEFIRA II” or “Bridge” programme began offering subsides for 8-months. Training vouchers are offered widely to complement these financial measures.

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