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Overprotected and Underprepared: EU-Accession, the Greek Way
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Theodore Georgakopoulos *
Greece has experienced a remarkable performance in the post-war period, with growth rates higher than in all other EU countries. Growth rates fell substantially after the first oil price increase in 1973, but until 1979, they were higher than the EU average, so that the country continued to converge with the EU economy. The situation changed drastically after 1980, when growth rates fell below the EU average and the Greek economy started diverging from the EU. Divergence continued for 16 years, until 1996, when the economy again started to grow at rates higher than the EU average, thereby once more achieving some convergence.
In this paper, we discuss major developments in the economy in the last thirty years and try to identify the factors that were behind them. After a brief discussion of developments in the pre-1973 period, we look more carefully at developments over the period 1974-1979, when growth rates fell substantially but remained above the EU average. Then, we concentrate on the period 1980-1995, when the economy performed very poorly and diverged from the EU economy, and after that on the post-1995 period, when the Greek economy starts growing again at rates higher than the EU average. Finally, we briefly discuss the future prospects of the economy before drawing some conclusions.
2. Major developments in the Greek economy in the post-war period up to 1973
For most of the post-war period up to 1973, Greece by far outperformed the other European countries. The average growth rate of the economy over the period 1954-1973, which was an era of fast growth in the country, was close to 7%, a percentage higher than that in almost all other OECD countries and about 50% higher than the EU average. Industrial production, and particularly manufacturing production, increased even faster (average growth rates 8%, for total industrial production and 10%, for manufacturing). As a result, the contribution of industrial production to GDP increased from 25% to 35% and that of manufacturing from 12% to 21%, while the contribution of industrial exports to total exports increased from less than 10% to over 40%.
Inflation was low (averaging at about 3.7%) while unemployment, though considerable in the 1950s and the 1960s (averaging at more than 5%), fell to 2% in the early 1970s, as a result of the fast growth of the economy and the substantial emigration of the 1960s, when more than one million Greek workers migrated abroad.
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The size of the public sector, as measured by the ratio of total expenditures to GDP, was relatively small (more than 15 percentage points lower than the EU average in 1973), and its finances were healthy, with current revenues covering total current expenditures and thus leaving a surplus to finance part of investment expenditures. As a result, the size of the public debt was relatively small, being less than 20 % of GDP in 1973, which was only half the EU average.
The country did not accrue significant overall external imbalances because the truly large deficits of the trade balance were covered by the surpluses in the balance of invisibles and the autonomous inflows of private long term capital so that the external debt was relatively small.
The high growth rates, combined with the relatively small increase in population resulted in a considerable improvement in per capita income and the living standards of the Greek population, with per capita income reaching 63% of the EU average in 1973.
The high savings propensity of the Greek population, the substantial inflow of foreign capital for direct investment, the relatively abundant labour supply and the political stability of the country were some of the major contributing factors to this truly remarkable performance of the economy. The countrys association with the European Economic Community in the early 1960s, which allowed Greek exports of manufactured products to be treated in the same way as intra-community trade of the six original members of the community, but allowing for a lengthy period of adjustment of the Greek tariff to the EC common external tariff, was also an important contributing factor to the countrys high growth over this period.
3. Developments in the economy after 1973 and before the second oil-price increase
The situation changed substantially after the first oil price increase in 1973. Growth rates were heavily reduced (see figure 1) but, until 1978, they remained higher than in most other OECD countries and about 35% higher than the EU average. As a result, the gap between Greece and the EU average was reduced further, with per capita income increasing to just over 71% of the EU average, in 1977. Greece continued to do better than both Spain and Portugal, but not as well as Ireland (Greeces growth rate was only 65% of that of Ireland). Unemployment was not a problem; the average rate for the period being 2% (only 45% of the EU average). Inflation increased sharply after the first oil price increase (25% in 1974), moderated the following four years and fell to 13% in 1978, averaging at about 16% (30% above the EU average). However, it is important to note that Greeces slowdown over this period was much higher than that of the EU average. Thus, from a 9.3% average growth rate over the five-year period 1969-1973, Greece came down to 3.5% in the five-year period 1974-78, whereas the corresponding reduction for the EU was from 5% down to 2.3%. This difference begs for a search for the particular factors that may account for Greeces accelerated slowdown, which may also partly explain developments in the post accession era.
Two groups of factors seem to be responsible for this unsatisfactory performance of the economy: external and internal. The major external factor was, of course, the substantial
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oil price increases, which reduced international demand,
[Over the five years following the first oil price increase, Greek exports to other OECD countries increased at half the average rate of that in the five years preceding it; over the five years following the second price increase, they increased at an average rate of 60% of that in the previous five years.]
increased domestic costs and boosted inflation,
[The GDP deflator, in 1973, increased 4 times, despite the fact that real wages fell and productivity increased by 6.2%. Similarly, in 1979, the GDP deflator increased by about 50% more than in the previous year, though real wages increased less than productivity (2.9% compared with 3.7%).]
while harming the countrys trade balance,
[Oil imports doubled in 1973, and over the five years following the first oil price increase, they increased 6.5 times. During the seven years following the second oil price rise, they increased by a further 5.5 times from the 1978 level. Since imports of oil in the early 1970s amounted to about 11% of the total value of Greek imports, the above increases in the value of oil imports had a considerable impact on the country's trade balance. Thus, the trade deficit in oil products increased from 1.7% of GDP in 1973 to over 4% in 1974 and further to over 6% in 1979 to reach 7.5% in 1985.]
as well as its terms of trade with the oil producing countries, thus transferring substantial amounts of income to these countries.
[Rough estimates show that, between 1973 and 1985, the price of imported oil in Greece went up 40 times, while the price index of all other products increased only 7 times. Under plausible assumptions concerning developments in the anti-monde, the first oil price increase resulted in an annual transfer of income to oil producing countries of the order of 3.5% of GDP, the second oil price increase pushed this transfer up to 5% of GDPreaching 7% in 1985, when the highest oil price increase took place. These are clearly substantial transfers of income and had considerable adverse effects on the Greek economy and the welfare of the people.]
An important internal factor that contributed to the poorer performance of the Greek economy is the post-war model of economic development followed in the country, and more importantly the truly extensive investment incentives that were given to industry in the post-war period, particularly in the late 1960s and the early 1970s.
[To understand the extent of the benefits provided via incentives, I should only refer to L.D. 147/1967, which allowed additional depreciation ratios of the order of 220% for investing in the majority of areas in the country. This, together with the overvaluation of investment, which was a wide practice, gave firms the opportunity to save taxes which were much higher than the total investment itself, so that the cost of investment was negative.]
The most important internal factor that explains much of the comparatively poor performance, however, is the inappropriate economic policies followed during this period, which aggravated the problems caused by the above mentioned external and
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internal factors. Rather than following restrictive economic policies to counterbalance the negative impact of these factors, economic policies were expansionary, thereby boosting consumption and worsening the situation. Real wages were, on average, increasing at 1.8 percentage points faster than productivity, whereas in the EU, real wages were increasing at a rate only slightly higher than productivity. The size of the public sector increased fast. General government consumption expenditures went up by 4 GDP percentage points (42% increase), whereas total government expenditure increased by 6.5 GDP percentage points (30% increase). The balance of the general government, which had shown surpluses in the post-war period up to 1972, became deficient, with the average size of deficits amounting to over 2% of GDP for this period. The public debt went up by 9.2 GDP percentage points reaching 28.5% at the end of the period. Money supply was increasing at an annual rate of 24.6% against 19.6% increase in nominal GNP. To account for the differential in the inflation rate the drachma was devalued by 25% against the ECU, but the real effective exchange rate against 15 major trading countries increased by 2% during this period.
4. Developments after the second oil-price increase and over the first 15 post-accession years: The Greek economy in trouble
The situation worsened substantially after the second oil-price increase when growth rates started lagging behind the EU average. At the time of entry (1981), the economic situation in the country was totally unsatisfactory. The rate of growth of the economy in 1980 was 0.7%, only 20% of that in the previous year. Inflation was running at 22% (33% higher than that in the previous year), while unemployment increased to 2.9% (42% above the rate in the previous year).
The situation became much worse over the first post-accession year. The rate of growth was negative (-1.6%), inflation rose to 23% and unemployment went up to 4% (50% above the rate in the previous year). Being a year of elections, the conservative government was unprepared to take the austerity measures necessary to stabilise the economy. Real wages increased by 1.3% and productivity went down by 4.9%. The size of the public sector increased by 5 percentage points in one year, whereas the deficit of the general government went up to 5.6% of GDP and money supply increased by 35% against a 21.3% increase in nominal GNP.
The conservative government lost the October elections and the socialists came to power. A new government from a new party that was promising to give workers and the needy more than the previous government gave, was certainly not the most appropriate government to take the austerity measures that were necessary to stabilise the economy at the time. Uncertainty mounted as a socialist party, with totally unknown economic policies that was supposed to be against membership of NATO and the EU and ready to bring socialism (what sort of socialism was truly unknown at the time) was in power for the first time in the country.
Rather than taking austerity measures, the new government continued with more expansionary measures. In 1983, real wages increased by 2.8 percentage points above productivity; in 1984, they lagged behind it by 2.2 percentage points, while they surpassed it by 2.6 percentage points in 1985, the year of elections. The size of the
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public sector increased by 7.5 GDP percentage points over the four years of the first socialist government, whereas annual deficits of the order of 35 GDP percentage points were accumulated. The public debt became a problem and interest payments reached 5% of GDP from less than 2% in 1979 and less than 1% in 1973. Inflation was running at a rate of 20% and the drachma lost via depreciation and a 15% devaluation in 1983- 42% of its value against the ECU over the course of five years (1980-1984).
The socialist government which won the 1985 elections had to take some austerity measures, and a new devaluation of the currency was necessary to improve competitiveness in view of the high price differentials between Greece and its competitors. But the austerity policy of the then Minister of the Economy, Kostas Simitis, did not last for long and the Minister who succeeded him applied the expansionary policy that was deemed necessary in view of the forthcoming elections. The socialists lost the 1989 elections but no majority could be formed resulting in the country having to go through political instability for about one year. The conservative party won the 1990 elections, but the new government did not manage to improve the situation substantially. Growth rates were small, inflation -although falling- remained high and unemployment was increasing fast. The size of the public sector increased and net borrowing of the general government peaked at 16% of GDP in 1990 and the public debt went up to 110% of GDP. The socialists won the 1993 elections, but the situation did not improve substantially in the first two years.
To summarise developments from 1979 to 1995: the average rate of growth of the economy was 1% (see chart 2), only 50% of the EU average and 50%, 33% and 25% of that in the three other cohesion countries (Spain, Portugal and Ireland) respectively. This led to divergence and a fall in per capita income from 72 % of the EU average in 1978 to 58.5% in 1990 and to 66% in 1995. Inflation ran at an average rate of 17.5% ( about 3 times the EU average), peaking at 23.2% in 1981, falling gradually down to 13.6% in 1989 to go up again to 19.9% in the next year and then gradually fall to 8.9% at the end of the period. Unemployment increased steadily and went up to 9.2% (86% of the EU average) from less than 2% (36% of the EU average) in 1979. Real wages fell at a rate of 0.5%, slightly more than the fall in productivity (-0.35%), whereas in the EU real wages increased at an average rate of 1.1%, only 58% of the increase in productivity. The size of the public sector increased by 20 GDP percentage points (from 29% to 49%), deficits averaged at 10% of GDP (60% being consumption deficits), mounting at 16% in 1990 and coming down to 10.5% in 1995, while interest payments went up to 14% of GDP in 1994 to fall back to 13% in the following year. Money supply was increasing at an average rate of 21.5% against a nominal GNP increase of 19%. The national currency lost 85% of its value against the ECU.
What were the factors that may account for this poor performance of the economy, besides, of course, the inappropriate economic policies, which do not seem to have initiated the troubles but which certainly led to a deterioration in the situation? A number of external and internal factors could be mentioned, including the 1978 and the 1985 oil price increases, [The domestic share in apparent consumption fell from 84.5% in 1980, to 78% in 1985, and further to 68% in 1992, indicating substantial trade creation. The share of non-oil imports from the EU increased from 9% to 16% and further to 22%, respectively. Finally, the share of non-oil imports from third countries fell slightly (0.5 percentage points) over the first 5 post-accession years, indicating small trade diversion (because of the differential change in tariffs and the introduction of the CAP), whereas it increased by 4 percentage points over the following 5 years, when the protection accorded by the tax system was abolished, showing substantial trade creation.] the rise of the South Eastern Asia countries, which were
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producing a similar range of manufactured products at lower cost, the inappropriate model of Greeces development in the post-war years etc. However, the most important factor seems to have been full membership of the European Community, something for which the economy was totally unprepared. This sounds strange for a country that has been an associate member of the European Economic Community for 20 years and was supposed to gradually align tariffs and prepare itself for the final accession as full member, while receiving substantial amounts of resources from the EU budget. Although the country was simply supposed to prepare itself to become a full member of the European Communities it was, in reality, totally unprepared. The economy was heavily protected on the import side and widely subsidised on the export side, so that it was bound to meet with tremendous problems in the new competitive environment of full membership. Besides, the truly substantial net amounts of resources that the country was receiving from the European Budget were partly counterbalanced by the negative balance of direct transfers through trade. In contrast the net balance of the two opposite transfers included mostly consumption resources, mainly going to farmers, which improved consumers( and especially the farmers) welfare but their positive impact on the growth of the economy was much smaller than their size would imply. I will elaborate on these two issues which I feel explain some of the troubles of the economy over this period.
Although tariffs were gradually aligned to the EC external tariff, in the context of the Athens Association Agreement (the average rate having fallen from 12.5% in 1961 to 3.3% in 1980, for imports from the EC, and from 9.1% to 3.5%, for imports from third countries), overall protection was probably increasing over the association years and was ensured by quantitative restrictions, advanced deposit requirements, invoice controls, government procurement policies and, above all, by the tax system. Indirect taxes were heavily discriminatory against imports and ensured manufactured products, a high degree of protection, sometimes much higher than the degree of protection ensured by tariffs in 1961 before the Association Agreement was put in force. This special protection was ensured by nominal rate differentials as well as by notional increases in the price of imports so that the actual rate was much larger than the nominal rate levied on domestic products.
[Nominal rates were mainly differentiated in the case of so-called luxury imports, which included a large number of products which were not always luxurious. These products were subject to very high tax rates, whereas corresponding domestic products, being considered non-luxurious, went untaxed or were taxed at very small rates. The taxable value of imports, on the other, was not the invoice price used for the imposition of tariffs, but the „normal" price fixed by the customs officers on the basis of various criteria, leading to substantial overvaluation of the taxable base. This normal price was increased by various percentages so that the final taxable base of manufactured products was 4 or 5 times the invoice price, resulting in corresponding increases in the tax burden levied on imports.]
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The abolition of the above protection was bound to increase imports in the country and harm the trade balance materially, although, of course, it improved consumers welfare, as trade creation dominated trade diversion (see Georgakopoulos 1993). Imports of agricultural products also increased substantially as a result of the adoption of the common agricultural policy (CAP). This increase was due to high increases in the prices of imported agricultural, and especially animal products, [The price of imported meat went up by 95% in 1981, the price of imported milk by 50 % and that of butter by 135% (Georgakopoulos and Paschos, 1985)] whereas the volume of imports fell, due to the high price increases of food. Besides, imports of agricultural products shifted from extra-EU to intra-EU sources, thereby causing extensive trade diversion and reducing consumers welfare. Between 1980 and 1990, total intra-EU imports increased from 9.5% of GDP to 16% (67% increase), while total imports increased from 20% to 25% of GDP and imports from third countries fell by 1.2 GDP percentage points. Such increases in the countrys import propensity were bound to reduce its domestic expenditure multiplier and retard demand and therefore GDP growth.
The deterioration in Greeces trade balance is clearly the result of all other factors that affected the countrys external trade over this period, but the abolition of protection seems to have been a major factor as can be inferred from the different developments in Greeces trade with the EU and third countries. On the contrary, overall competitiveness, which is clearly another important factor that could have affected external trade, does not seem to have changed substantially over this period. [Constantopoulos (1992) shows that competitiveness of Greek products remained, on average, constant over the 1980s, because currency devaluation compensated for inflation differentials]
As to exports, they could not have any additional favourable treatment as a result of full entry, since manufactured exports were already entering the EU free of charge since 1968 and the only benefit could come from exports of agricultural products, which was, in fact, not substantial. On the contrary, Greek exports lost their pseudo-competitiveness ensured by the extensive subsidisation, which they had enjoyed before. Greece used to provide truly huge subsidies on exports. The average export subsidy for all exports was 20%, but the rates ranged considerably between the various groups of products, reaching 30% for shoes and were even higher for individual products.
[Details see in Maroulis (1992)]
The Greek economy was, therefore, bound to meet with tremendous problems as a full member of the EU, due to the import substitution model of development followed in the post-war period and some studies, before entry, pointed this out.
[See e.g. Georgakopoulos, 1980 and references there.]
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When considering the truly large amount of resources that the Greek economy received in the context of the European Budget, it should be noted that a substantial part of these resources was counterbalanced by the negative balance of the direct transfers through trade, from Greek consumers to EU producers, due to the protection accorded by both the tariffs and the variable levies. Protective measures transfer income from consumers to producers and when the two belong to different countries, we have an inter-country income transfer. Since Greeces intra-union trade balance is heavily deficient (Greeces intra-union deliveries amount to only 30% of its acquisitions) and its deliveries are also, on average, protected less than its acquisitions, because of the well known differences in the structure of trade of less and more advanced economies, the final balance of these transfers is bound to be negative. Negative is also the balance of these transfers caused by the other protective measure of the EU, i.e. the variable levies, since these levies cover mostly cereals and animal products, of which Greece is a net importer from the other EU countries, while being a net exporter of Mediterranean products, which are mostly supported via the budget. Studies have shown that the negative balance of these direct transfers was equal to the positive balance of the budgetary transfers in the first year of accession, when the latter were relatively moderate, 75% in the second year, 50% in the third year and it was stabilised at about 1/3 from the 4th year on, as the balance of the budgetary transfers was increasing and reached quite high levels.
But even the remainder was of the order of 2.5-3% of GDP, which is again considerable. Its favourable impact on the economy however was disproportionate to its size since these resources were consumption resources, mostly going to farmers, which improved their welfare, but did not contribute substantially to the countrys growth. Most of it was, in fact, spent on imports harming the countrys balance of trade and promoting less economic activity and employment. The structure of the funds, however, improved gradually over the period, with the Integrated Mediterranean Programs and especially the Community Support Frameworks, with the structural funds contributing more and more and the EAGFF [European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, also known as FEOGA, Fonds Européen d´Orientation et de Garantie Agricole.] resources lagging behind, but the favourable impact of whatever investment in physical or human capital was promoted by these funds comes very slowly, so that the benefits of the economy over this period were relatively small, as were its benefits from the single market. [For an evaluation of the impact of the single internal market and the Community Support Framework on the Greek economy, see Capros et al. (1990), Bourgignon et al. (1992), Kapros and Karadeloglou (1989) and Lolos and Zonzilos (1992). See also European Commission (1996) and (1999).]
5. The post-1995 period
The situation changed after 1995, with the economy growing at rates higher than the EU average, hereby ensuring again some convergence (see chart 3). The average growth rate over the last five years has been 3.4% (35% higher than the EU average), and it is expected to be more than one unit higher than the EU average in 2001. Inflation came down fairly quickly and from 8.9% (about 3 times the EU average) in 1995 it fell to 2.5% (only 30% higher than the EU average in 2000). Public sector deficits were also reduced substantially; from 10.2% of GDP in 1995, they came down to 1.3% in 2000
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and are expected to fall further to 0.6% at the end of 2001. The public debt as a percentage of GDP increased slightly in 1996 and then started falling continuously from 111% to 103.5% and is expected to fall further to just below 100% at the end of this year. The country met with all the Maastricht criteria and became the 12th member of the EMU; something truly difficult to imagine at the beginning of the period.
There were a number of factors behind these positive developments. First, the absence of any further negative external factor over this period. Any protection or subsidisation had already gone and the economy found itself in a new competitive environment within which it grew. Second, economic policy was, at last, prudent. Real wages grew at rates lower than productivity (2.1% compared with 2.4%), providing the first means of curbing inflation. Deficits fell very quickly via reductions in the size of expenditures (from 46.6% to 42.8%) as well as increases in current, and especially tax, revenues (from 36.4 to 42.8%) . Third, the structure of the budgetary resources from the EU improved considerably with the contribution of the structural funds increasing at the expense of the resources of the EAGGF- guarantee section, and efficiency in their use improved by promoting investment in physical and human capital. To absorb resources from the structural funds, public investment in real terms increased substantially. Fourth, former investment in physical and human capital has gradually been accumulated and contributes more and more to growth.
6. Future prospects
The preceding analysis suggests that the comparatively poor performance of the economy over the 1980s and the early 1990s was due to both external and internal factors all of which seem to belong to the past. No new asymmetric shocks are expected from the adoption of the acquis communautaire, economic policy is closely co-ordinated, in the context of the stability and growth pact, and cannot therefore easily be affected by electoral or other constraints. Substantial resources will come into the country, most of which will be in the context of structural funds, and this will stimulate public and private investment. With the environment now appearing to be healthy Greece can exploit all the benefits a large market gives to firms.
The Greek government should, however, take all the necessary measures to increase competitiveness, which in the long-run can only be achieved by increasing productivity. For this reason, it should further reduce the size of the public sector by privatising public enterprises and using the proceeds to reduce the size of the public debt and, consequently, interest payments. Government expenditure on defence, which amounts to 6% of GDP, also absorbs an exceptionally high proportion of government funds and should gradually be reduced. It should also take all necessary measures to improve efficiency in government spending, especially in public administration, and improve productivity in the public sector. It should simplify the tax system, improve its effectiveness as a revenue raiser and make it more friendly to employment, capital formation and growth. Finally, it should widely reform the social security system in orderto simplify it, improve its social justice and, above all, make the system viable.
Greece experienced high growth rates in the post-war period up to 1973, thereby achieving a high degree of convergence with the EU average. Growth rates fell considerably after the first oil price increase but, until 1979, they remained above the EU average. The situation deteriorated after the second oil price increase in 1979 and especially after full membership of the EU. For 16 years, the Greek economy performed very poorly, with the average rate for the whole period being 0.9%; only 45% of the EU average. Inflation was high and whereas unemployment increased substantially and approached the EU average. Public deficits were extremely large and the public debt increased to over 100%.
A number of factors explain the poor performance of the Greek economy over this period, including the inappropriate model of post-war development, the substantial oil price increases, the countrys exposure to world competition due to the abolition of the high protection and the extensive subsidisation followed in the post-war period after full membership, the nature of the resources transferred to Greece from the European budget and the inappropriate economic policies followed over this period. The economy has performed much better over the last five years growing at an average rate of 3.4%, which was 35% higher than the EU average thereby achieving again some convergence. Inflation fell considerably, but unemployment still remains at quite high levels. Public deficits were reduced substantially and the size of the public debt as a percentage of GDP started falling. The country managed to fulfil all the Maastricht criteria and become the 12th member of the EMU. Provided no asymmetric shocks hit the Greek economy and the government takes some necessary structural measures, the economy is expected to do well in the near future.
Bourguignon, F. S. Lolos, A. Suwa-Eisenmann and N.Zonzilos (1992), Evaluating the Community Support Framework with an Extended General Equilibrium Model: The Case of Greece (1988-1995), paper presented at the annual conference of the European Economic Association, Trinity College, Dublin
Capros, P. and P. Karadeloglou (1989) Macroeconomic Impacts of Structural Funds on the Greek Economy, Report to the Economic and Industrial Research Institute, Athens
Capros, P., P. Karadeloglou and G. Mentzas (1990), Macroeconomic Effects of 1992 on the Greek economy, paper presented at the second conference of the Hellenic Economic Association, Athens, 12-13 December
Constantopoulos, M. (1992), Exchange rate policy dilemmas in the presence of macroeconomic imbalance" in T. Skouras (ed.), Issues in Contemporary Economics, London, McMilan
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Georgakopoulos, T. (1980), Greece and the EEC", The Three Banks Review, December.
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Georgakopoulos, T. (1986), Greece in the EC: Inter-country income transfers", Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 25
Georgakopoulos, T. and P. Paschos (1985), Greek agriculture and the CAP", European Review of Agricultural Economics.
Maroulis, D. (1992) Problems and Perspectives of Greek Exports, Study No 39, Athens, Centre of Planning and Economic Research
Lolos S. and N. Zonzilos (1992), The Impact of European Structural Funds on Growth: The case of Greece, Working paper Economic Reserch Department, Bank of Greece
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Figure 1: Growth rates in Greece and the EU (average) 1974-1978
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Figure 2: Growth rates in Greece and the EU (average) 1979-1995
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Figure 3: Growth rates in Greece and the EU (average) 1996-2001
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