Greece - Future trends

In the 20th century, the Greek economy has fared poorly and has been plagued with high inflation, debts, account deficits, and shaky economic policies. However, its admittance into the EU has ensured economic reform and the commitment of the government to keep Greece's economic house in order. The road ahead looks brighter and more promising for Greece's long-troubled economy. Its entrance into the European Monetary Union (EMU) demonstrates that Prime Minister Simitis's PASOK government has successfully managed the economy without causing high inflation through tough fiscal measures. All signs show that the Greek economy is likely to expand, perhaps more so than that of other EU members. Recent wage increases, tax cuts, and employment growth are likely to keep consumer spending growing.

If the Balkan region becomes more stable, Greece may have stiff competition attracting foreign investors. Likewise, receiving funds from the Community Support Framework (CSF) of the EU may prove difficult as higher implementation standards are instituted. That said, the Greek economy is far better off than it was during the second half of the 20th century. And in fact, in 2001 the government expected to achieve a small surplus in the budget.

Politically, Greece is expected to remain stable under Prime Minister Constantine Simitis, ensuring the continuation of his economic platform, although there is some resistance to his privatization policies. Improving ties with its EU neighbors will be at the forefront of his political agenda, as well as fostering better relations with Turkey, Greece's longtime adversary. Throughout 1999 and 2000, the 2 countries made significant progress toward enhancing peaceful relations in the wake of Turkey's candidacy for admission to the EU.

Greece will host the 2004 Olympics, and the country is gearing up for this historic event. The new Athens International Airport is better equipped to handle the many tourists coming in for the Games, and improvements are being made in transportation and the country's infrastructure, such as new highways and expansion of the Athens Metro. Tourism revenues should increase significantly from the influx of Olympic participants and spectators.

As Greece continues its plan to modernize its economy while retaining some socialist aspects of its government, societal changes could occur. Businesses, especially family-owned businesses, are feeling the effects of closer integration with Greece's EU partners as the country's entrepreneurs now face growing competition from their European competitors. Small family-owned businesses could crumble due to competition from large international corporations. How this all plays out in Greek society, which is marked by strong family traditions, is unknown. It is hoped that increased free enterprise and capitalism will not damage Greece's strong family structure, which has been a pillar of its culture and society, much like those which still hold up the Acropolis after so many centuries.

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