In 2020, Greece’s GDP stood at EUR 168.5 billion, representing a decrease by 22.1% from the 2010 level. It has also declined annually by 8.2%, which reflects the impact of the global COVID 19 pandemic on the country’s economy.
The number of enterprises in the broad construction sector in Greece stood at 120,734 in 2020 , representing a decrease of 32.3% since 2010. This was due to declines in the number of enterprises in the manufacturing ( 51.7%), the narrow construction ( 34.8%) and the architectural and engineering activities ( 29.8%) sub sectors, offsetting an increase in the real estate activities sub sector (+42.4%), over the 2010 2020 period.
In parallel, the volume index of production in the broad construction sector witnessed a decline of 36.6% over the 2015-2020 period. This was due to declines in the volume index of construction of buildings ( 37.8%) and the construction of civil engineering ( 35.9%) over the same period.
Similarly, the total turnover of the broad construction sector reached EUR 17.1 billion in 2018, representing a 25.3% decline compared to 2010. Furthermore, in 2020 it increased to EUR 17.8 billion, representing 4.2% increment from 2018, but 22.2% decline from 2010.
Additionally, the gross operating surplus of the broad construction sector amounted to EUR 1.9 billion in 2018, representing a 65.3% decline from the 2010 level. The gross operating rate of the broad construction sector, which indicates sector’s profitability, reached at 14.2% in 2018, slightly below the 2010 level (14.8%) and also below the 2018 EU 27 average (16.7%). This may be partly explained by the recently increasing construction cost index, which grew by nearly 100% in May 2021 in comparison to the previous year, following a continuous decline of 7.0 index points (ip) over the 2010 2018 period. This is partly explained by the economic recovery of the country from the COVID-19 pandemic.Similarly, the gross operating surplus of the broad construction sector recorded a decline of 53.6% over the period 2010-2017, reaching EUR 2.5 billion . This decline was primarily driven by a decrease in the manufacturing (-of 77.3%), narrow construction ( 57.3%) and architectural and engineering activities ( 55.1%) sub-sectors. Correspondingly, the gross operating rate, an indicator of the sector’s profitability, stood at 14.9% in 2017 , representing a decrease from 2011 levels (20.7%).
In terms of employment, there were 271,497 persons employed in the broad construction sector in 2020 , representing a 28.2% decrease since 2010. This was due to declines in the manufacturing ( 42.4%), the narrow construction ( 33.8%) and the architectural and engineering activities ( 15.3%) sub sectors, offsetting an increase in the real estate activities sub sector (+73.5%), over the 2010 2020 period.
The number of households in Greece in 2020 reached 4.4 million units, representing a 0.8% growth from 2010 levels.
Additionally, the continuously declining mortgage interest rates since 2011 (reaching 2.0% in 2020), coupled with the increasing urbanisation rate and rising household income, contributed to a strong housing demand, which drove the housing prices up in 2020. According to Bank of Greece, house prices in Greece’s urban areas rose by 3.4% during the year to the third quarter of 2020. However, this is comparatively lower than the previous year (8.5%). The annual slowdown in housing prices can be attributed to the imposition of strict lockdown measures across the country, in order to contain the COVID‑19 pandemic. Foreign demand, which had been the driver of the Greek housing market, has also plunged. As a result, the property market accounted for a 25.3% share of total foreign direct investments (FDI) in Greece, down from 32.3% in the previous year. In order to uplift the housing market and the construction sector, the government introduced the Reduction of the Single Property Tax (ENFIA) measure to help reduce the tax burden.
Greece's National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), aiming to deploy funds amounting to EUR 30.5 billion in grants and loans, includes urban regeneration investment projects and renovation plans for upgrading the energy efficiency of residential buildings.
The plan includes providing support for the green transition through investments of EUR 1.3 billion in the energy-efficient renovation of more than 100,000 residences, including for low-income households. The country will invest EUR 160.0 million for the development of 5G networks, EUR 1.3 billion in the digital transformation of the public sector and another EUR 375.0 million for the digitalisation of businesses, promoting the integration of digital technologies in SMEs. Furthermore, as per the plan, the country will invest more than EUR 500.0 million to promote the digital transformation of the education and health system, while nearly EUR 750.0 million will be invested in digital upskilling.
With regards to non‑residential construction and infrastructure, there are 118 projects in progress, but not yet funded, in Greece’s infrastructure pipeline. These projects are collectively valued at EUR 43.4 billion. They comprise of energy projects, railways and motorways, tourist infrastructure and waste management projects.
Presently, the Greek construction sector is hindered by the slow intake of innovations. As per European Investment Bank Investment Survey (EIBIS) 2020, the share of Greek construction firms reporting ‘no innovation’ was the highest (82.0%) in comparison with services (77.0%), manufacturing (58.0%) and infrastructure (59.0%) sectors. In this regard some initiatives supporting the digital transformation of the sector are worth highlighting, such as the establishment by the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Secretary General of Spatial Planning and Urban Environment of an Interministerial Group for the Promotion of the modelisation of BIM construction information.
Following the policy and investments initiatives taken by the government, the infrastructure and housing market are expected to drive the growth of the construction sector. This will support its short term and gradual recovery.