ECONOMY

In Brief

France and Greece the most unruly single market partners, says survey France and Greece show the lowest degree of harmonization of their national legislation with EU directives on the single market, according to a survey released by the European Commission in Brussels yesterday. France has not harmonized 3.8 percent of directives and Greece 3.3 percent. These rates concern only directives approved in the last two years for which the harmonization deadline has expired. This record has led to the number of course cases against Greece for violation of EU legislation to rise from 125 last year to 133 now. Of 10 key directives, Greece has incorporated eight, with the remaining two concerning environmental prevention and control and consumer protection. However, the number of directives awaiting harmonization has risen to seven in the last six months, while the number of pending directives is expected to worsen the record in the coming months. In the same survey, two-thirds of Greek enterprises consider that the single market had «very or quite positive» effects on the quality of products and services, in line with the EU average (67 percent). Business chambers want more foreign investment, speedier privatization The disappearance of national borders and the internationalization of markets has created a pressing need for larger Greek enterprises, even though this may entail partnerships with foreign firms, their stronger presence in share capital, mergers and acquisitions, Giorgos Kasimatis, chairman of the Central Union of Greek Chambers (KEEE) told a symposium of Greek expatriate businessmen in Dusseldorf, Germany, yesterday. KEEE, he said, has long been calling for a speedy completion of privatizations, considerable trimming of public spending to reduce deficits and debt, the withering of an oligopolistic state of affairs which fuels inflation and the introduction of serious incentives for entrepreneurship and attracting foreign capital. Greece receives more foreign investment from Germany than from any other country. NBG The positive future of the Greek economy is not in doubt, as it has created the requisite dynamics that will enable it to sustain high growth rates in coming years, Chairman of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) Theodoros Karatzas said. He disputed claims that the total debt of Greek households is excessive. Plans for NBG’s acquisition of an Albanian bank are still being studied. Industry Manufacturing output was up 0.3 percent year-on-year in September, mainly due to expanding output in tobacco, printing and base metals, the National Statistics Service said. Industrial production as a whole, including mining, manufacturing, electricity and natural gas rose 1.3 percent. In the nine months to September, manufacturing rose 0.3 percent, but total industrial output fell 1.4 percent. Laiki Cyprus-based Laiki Bank yesterday opened its 34th Greek branch on Corfu, planning to reach 38 in the country as a whole by year-end and 50 by the end of 2003. Alpha Bank The Greek Financial Research Institute says Alpha Bank’s use of the official logo of the Olympic Games of 2004 on its credit cards is «insulting and unacceptable,» given the general practice in banking of «profiteering with unfair interest rates.»