ECONOMY

Competitiveness improves but leaves much to be desired

Competitiveness in Greece is “mediocre but improved,” according to the European Commission’s annual report released on Thursday.

The country ranks in the penultimate bracket of member states, along with Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia. The top tier includes the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Ireland, a country that until recently was in a bailout program but is now deemed to exhibit “high competitiveness.”

The report’s chapter on Greece underscores that the country is returning to growth after a long and deep recession, but adds that Athens must implement its adjustment program in full if it hopes to see a further rebound in 2015.

Greece’s economy mostly relies on its service sector, while its production share is far below the European average of 15.5 percent, at just 9.9 percent. Tourism appears to have been playing a major role in the economic recovery this year, along with the country’s high absorption of EU subsidies for projects such as restarting works on four major highways, worth over 7 billion euros.

Unemployment and the social situation in Greece remain a challenge, but the report notes that reforms in the labor market have reduced the cost of competitiveness. This, combined with the measures funded by the EU to strengthen employment, should bring the jobless rate down from 26 percent as foreseen for the end of 2014 to 24 percent in 2015.