ECONOMY

Greece an EU laggard in competitiveness

In the Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Greece ranks poorly among its 27 European Union peers, only ahead of Romania and Bulgaria.

While Greece gets good marks in several areas (it ranks sixth in its supply of scientists and engineers), the debt-hit state is a laggard in terms of smart growth and socially fair development.

Greece finds itself in last place in terms of business environment because of anemic competitiveness (26th place), the low rate of entrepreneurship (25th), its poor record in terms of cooperatives (26th) and, of course, the lack of liquidity (23rd).

Greece also lags in technological progress. The WEF report highlights Greece?s digital shortcomings (25th place) and the disappointing infiltration (26th) of IT and communication technologies both on a personal as well as a professional level. Social integration is limited because of market shortcomings and obstacles to the participation of women and youth.

The survey says that although the European model offers better policies for enhancing social cohesion, it is weak in creating the requisite conditions to secure profitable employment for a big segment of the continent?s populations.

The spread of the crisis means government efforts are mostly focused on dealing with the immediate repercussions instead of the long-term goal of creating a competitive, sustainable and socially fair Europe.

For the time being, the survey suggests, Europe appears to be divided into four classes of competitiveness: a) Nordic Europe, made up of Sweden, Finland and Denmark; b) Western Europe, made up of the Netherlands, Ireland but also Estonia; c) Southern and Eastern Europe, made up of Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary; and finally d) at the bottom, Southeastern Europe, made up of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.