Half of all Greeks did not have the financial means to take even a one-week vacation last year, compared to an average rate of 28.3 percent in the 28-member European Union, according to a survey by the bloc’s statistical service Eurostat.
Greeks are not the only Europeans facing such constraints.
According to Eurostat’s survey, 58.9 percent of Romanians were also unable to take a week’s holiday in 2018, as were 51.3 percent of respondents polled in Croatia. The rate for both Greeks and Cypriots was 51 percent.
In contrast, the EU member-states with the lowest percentage of people unable to afford a one-week annual holiday were Luxembourg, with a rate of 10.9 percent, and Sweden, where only 9.7 percent faced those constraints.
Other southern European countries were significantly above the bloc’s average, with a rate of 41.3 percent in Portugal and 43.7 percent in Italy.
Over the last five years, the largest drops in the proportion of citizens unable to afford a one-week annual holiday away from home were in Bulgaria (down 35.8 percentage points since 2013 to 30.5 percent in 2018) and in Poland (down 26 percentage points since 2013 to 34.6 percent in 2018). The average rate in the EU in 2013 was 39.5 percent, falling to 28.3 percent last year.
Greece was the only EU member-state in which the proportion increased over the same five-year period – up two percentage points to 51 percent last year.
Erupting in 2010, Greece’s financial crisis peaked in 2013 when unemployment skyrocketed, touching 28 percent, and workers and pensioners struggled to make ends meet following a series of cuts to their salaries and pensions.
Although jobless figures have improved, and some of the cuts have been revoked, high taxes have contributed to the burden on households.