Illegal economy appears to shrink

The size of Greece’s illegal economy as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product was the eighth highest among the 27 European Union member states in 2012, according to a European Commission report published on Monday.

Despite recent changes to the tax system aimed at streamlining the country’s economy, the black market in Greece amounts to about 25 percent of GDP, or some 50 billion euros, the figures from Brussels showed.

The highest rate of illegal economic activity was recorded in neighboring Bulgaria (31.9 percent), followed by Estonia (29.3 percent) and Romania (29.1 percent). The EU average last year was 14.9 percent.

Notably, Greece’s illegal economy has declined compared to 2005, as it grew between 2008 and 2010 but dropped significantly in 2011 and 2012.

"The decline is mostly due to the [economic] crisis, not to any measures,» commented the head of the Central Association of Chambers, Constantinos Michalos.