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DEVELOPMENT LAW IN GREECE:
NEW FAST TRACK PROCEDURE
The investment legal framework in Greece was recently modified under the provisions of the law 4608/2019. Its main purpose is to boost Greek investment sector by simplifying and accelerating the authorization procedure thus allowing more and wider strategic investments. The article herein focuses on the basic innovations of the new institutional framework, making also special reference to the Directorate General for Strategic Investments and Enterprise Greece, the organization in charge for strategic investments (https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/).
- Extended strategic investments
As such are considered to be all the investments that –due to their major significance for the overall national and local economy– have a positive impact on employment increase and productivity reconstruction. They also promote the natural and cultural characteristics of Greece, such as tourism, energy and new technologies.
- Larger motivation and incentives
- Territorial incentives
The territorial distinctive qualities of large touristic investments (ΕΣΧΑΣΕ) are assimilated to the qualifications of Public Real Estate investments (ΕΣΧΑΔΑ). As so, investment plans regarding large touristic-holiday villages are being processed with the benefits of the state privileges. It is worth mentioned, the possibility of forced expropriation of land or constitution of immovable property rights for the execution of such potential project, provided that the expropriated land cannot occupy more than 3% of the total land included in the investment’s plans.
- Tax motivation
Tax incentives for every investment plan are ratified by law and notified to the European Commission. Among the incentives provided are: a) consolidation of the tax system for a specific period since the launch of the strategic investment, b) conduction of tax free reserves, c) procedure and time of refund of excess valued added tax, and d) reduction or exemption from fees, special taxes and third party rights or fees.
- Fast track procedure
The authorization procedure for strategic investments is simpler, faster and more transparent. Specifically, every investor interested in submitting an investment proposal, shall be addressed to Enterprise Greece, which evaluates the proposal and consult within a 45-day period. The latter publishes the basic points and an executive summary of the investment proposal on a properly constructed platform at its website and calls on the public and the competent institutions in consultation, which is conducted for 15 calendar days. The licensing authority examines the aforementioned file, in form and substance, and within an exclusive period of fifteen (15) calendar days after its receipt, can request once any required additional data in order to complete the file. In this case the 45-day period is suspended and begins again after the deposit of the additional data. Under no circumstances, can the period of 45 calendar days be extended. In case that the 45-day period expires and no decision is made concerning the licensing or not of the investment proposal, the Minister of Economy and Development is able tο intervene and grant or refuse the relevant authorization. Under this scope, it is of high importance the contribution of General Directorate of Strategic Investments, which acts as a one-stop shop concerning the licensing of the strategic investments. Once the legal permit is granted, it is conducted Memorandum of Cooperation between the Greek state and the investor.
- Conflicts resolution through arbitration
Differences between the parties, arising from the interpretation and application of the Memorandum of Cooperation, can be resolved through arbitration.
The arbitration court consists of three arbitrators, takes place in Athens and the official language of the procedure is Greek, unless indicated otherwise at the Memorandum of Cooperation. Arbitration award is final, irrevocable and constitutes executory title.
- Monitoring of the procedure
The approval and realization process of the investment proposal is monitored, while at the same time, in cases of inaction by the Public Administration or the investor, penalties are enforced.
Therefore, at the heart of the recent investment law is the acceleration of the approval procedure and the simplification of the whole procedure in order to attract and realize as many investment plans as possible in Greece. Let us be optimist about the positive results that shall occur.