Greece: OECD identifies hundreds of competition-distorting rules and provisions


27/11/2013 - An 11-month investigation by the OECD in cooperation with the Greek authorities has identified a wide range of regulations and legal provisions that undermine competition.


In its report into Greece’s food processing, retail trade, building materials and tourism sectors, the OECD identified 555 regulatory restrictions which it says, if lifted, would have major benefits for the Greek economy, not least through lower prices.


The Competition Assessment Review of Greece makes more than 320 recommendations on legal provisions that should be amended or repealed.


The report says the Greek authorities have taken important steps in recent years to reinforce competition law, strengthen the Hellenic Competition Commission and liberalise professional services.


 A competition assessment “toolkit”, developed by the OECD, was used to structure the analysis. It provides a checklist that guides the assessment of laws and regulations to identify crucial restrictions to competition.


The report argues implementation of the report’s recommendations would lead to substantial benefits for Greek consumers, and help remove barriers to growth. It estimates the benefit to the Greek economy would be around EUR 5.2 billion – the equivalent of 2.5% of GDP -  due to increased purchasing power for consumers and efficiency gains for companies.


Implementing the recommendations would have an even wider impact over time, the report says. OECD studies demonstrate that the removal of barriers to competition in a number of markets across the wider economy will lead to increased productivity and hence stronger economic growth and job creation.


The main findings include:

  • Barriers to entry (such as the definition of “fresh” milk which sets the maximum shelf-life at five days, exclusive distribution of over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) by pharmacies, minimum requirements for touristic infrastructures and activities);
  • Price distortions (such as regulated prices of OTCs, requirements to submit prices to trade associations and various forms of price notification and approvals);
  • Rules that constrain the operation of businesses and their commercial practices (such as the regulation of promotions and sales, restrictions on the establishment and ownership of pharmacies);
  • Third-party levies (such as the levy on cement, on the wholesale price of medicines and on flour);
  • Obsolete legislation (such as various provisions in the Code of Foodstuffs and Beverages, including restrictions on bottling apple vinegar or importing certain types of peppers).

Further information is available at or from the OECD Media Division ([email protected]; tel: +33 1 4524 9700)


Journalists are invited to contact Ania Thiemann tel: +33 1 45 24 98 87 in the Competition Division for more information.


Read the report.