During the euro-zone crisis at the beginning of the last decade, many European citizens felt they were paying an unfair price for Greece’s problems. As the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic fades in Europe, it’s the turn of the Greek people to feel aggrieved.
The country has had one of the best Covid-19 records in the European Union, thanks to the government’s swift decision to enforce a lockdown and widespread compliance among the population. There have been 185 registered deaths so far from the disease, out of a population of about 10.7 million people — equivalent to 17 deaths per million people. Spain and Italy had 578 and 560 registered deaths per million respectively, and “excess deaths” relative to the previous years were even higher.
Yet the economic pain for Greece may be similar to other southern European nations. The European Commission forecasts that Greek national income will shrink by 9.7% this year, compared with 9.5% in Italy and 9.4% in Spain. The country is, however, expected to rebound more sharply in 2021, by 7.9%, compared with an expectation of 6.5% growth for Italy and 7% for Spain. Greece’s initial contraction — set to be the largest in the EU — is happening because the economy relies heavily on tourism. As foreigners stay at home, hotels and restaurants suffer.