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How to cite:
Lada, A.; Manos, E. (2021): Country Profile of Greece. Hannover. = ARL Country Profiles. https://www.arl-international.com/knowledge/country-profiles/greece/rev/3738. (date of access).


Greece is a country at the southeastern part of the European continent, a continuation of the Balkan peninsula, one out of three southern peninsulas of the European continent. It lies in the central and eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, being a meeting point of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece is bordered to the north by Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria; to the east by Turkey, and is surrounded to the east by the Aegean Sea, to the south by the Cretan and the Libyan Seas, and to the west by the Ionian Sea, which separates Greece from Italy. It is a mountainous and also an insular country, characterised by large and high-altitude mountain ranges and a great number of rocky areas, islets, and small and big islands varying from 10 m2 to 8264.9 km². The 20 biggest islands vary in size from 196.7 km² to 8264.9 km² (Paros and Crete, respectively). There are 1018 islands which are larger than one hectare. Those islands form two archipelagos, the Ionian and Aegean seas. Due to its mountainous and insular formation, Greece has an extensive coastline of 20,817.8 km, the largest in the Mediterranean Basin, making Greece the country with the 11th or 19th largest coastline worldwide (CIA World Factbook and World Resources Institute, respectively); it comprises almost a third of the EU’s coastline.

The large majority of residents in Greece hold Greek citizenship (91.6%), while 1.8% are citizens of other EU countries and another 6.5% are citizens of non-EU countries (National Census 2011). Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus. It is spoken across the entire Hellenic territory and is distinguished by its dialects and local idioms. A few dialects are spoken, such as Cretan and Pontiac, as well as some languages spoken by immigrants (Albanian, Russian, Punjabi, Farsi, Arabic). Turkish is spoken by some population groups in the Thraki region (northeastern Greece), while Romani is spoken by the Roma population, which is dispersed around Greece.

Greece (Ελλάδα, Hellada or Hellas), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Elliniki Dimokratia), is a parliamentary republic. The president, who is elected by parliament every five years, is the head of state. The prime minister is the head of government. The Ministerial Council, consisting of the prime minister, ministers, deputy ministers and ministers without portfolio, is the collective decision-making body that constitutes the government of Greece. Legislative power is exercised by parliament and the president of the republic. Executive power is exercised by the president of the republic and the government. Judicial power is vested in the courts of law, whose decisions are executed in the name of the people. Although the president of the republic has limited political power, as most power lies with the government, their duties include formally appointing the prime minister, on whose recommendation the president also appoints or dismisses other members of government, as well as representing the state in its relations with other states, proclaiming referendums, etc. (Presidency of the Hellenic Republic n.d.). General elections are normally held every four years unless parliament is dissolved earlier. The electorate consists of all Greek citizens who are at least 18 years of age. Each new government, after a general election or after the previous government’s resignation, has to appear before parliament and request a vote of confidence (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2019). Greece joined the European Union (the European Community at that time) in May 1979 (signing the Treaty of Accession in Athens) as the tenth EC member state. Accession took place two years later, on 1 January 1981. Greece is a member of the Euro area (since 1 January 2001) and a member of the Schengen area (since 1 January 2000) (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2020).

General information

Name of country Greece
Capital, population of the capital (2021) Athens, 637,798 (Elstat)
Surface area 131,960 km² (World Bank)
Total population (2020) 10,698,599 (World Bank)
Population growth rate (2010-2020) -3.80% (World Bank)
Population density (2020) 83.0 inhabitants/km² (World Bank)
Degree of urbanisation (2015) 45.12% densely populated areas (European Commission)
Human development index (2021) 0.887 (Human Development Reports)
GDP (2019) EUR 167,953 million (World Bank)
GDP per capita (2019) EUR 15,665 (World Bank)
GDP growth (2014-2019) 4.00% (World Bank)
Unemployment rate (2019) 17.04% (World Bank)
Land use (2018) 3.29% built-up land
38.81% agricultural land
28.21% forests and shrubland
28.1% nature
1.58% inland waters
(European Environment Agency)
Sectoral structure (2017) 79.1% services and administration
16.9% industry and construction
4.1% agriculture and forestry
(Central Intelligence Agency)

To ensure comparability between all Country Profiles, the tables were prepared by the ARL.

Administrative structure and system of governance

During very recent years a major administrative reform took place. It was given the name of ‘Kallikratis’, after an ancient Greek architect active in the middle of the fifth century BC, who jointly with Ictinus were the architects of the Parthenon temple on Athens Acropolis. This was the Kallikratis Plan, under Law 3852 of 2010 (Greek Government Gazette 2010). One of its major innovations was the merging of communities and small municipalities into bigger administrative units (Kallikratis municipalities), replacing the existing administrative system of 13 regions, 54 prefectures and 1033 municipalities and communities with a system of 7 decentralised administrations, 13 regions divided into 74 regional units and 325 municipalities, subdivided into municipal units and communities (Greek Ministry of the Interior 2020). Each decentralised administration is headed by a Secretary General that is appointed by the government, while members of regional and municipal boards are elected. The first elections with the new system were held on 7 November (first round) and 14 November 2010 (second round). The Kallikratis reform was followed by a much more recent administrative reform which took place in 2018 under the name of ‘Cleisthenes’ (Law 4555 of 2018), a reform that came into full force on 1 September 2019, following elections of local and regional authorities on 26 May (first round) and 2 June 2019 (second round). Cleisthenes (or Clisthenes) was an ancient Athenian lawgiver credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508 BC. For these accomplishments, historians refer to him as ‘the father of Athenian democracy’. The Cleisthenes reform ushered in a much more proportional electoral system, the simple proportionality system, while the term of a mayor decreased from five years to four years. It also introduced the possibility of holding a referendum on a local or regional basis. Municipalities have been classified in six groups as follow:

a) Municipalities of metropolitan centres. This category includes only the municipalities of the urban complexes of Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus.
b) Large mainland municipalities. This category includes municipalities with a population of over 25,000 inhabitants.
c) Medium mainland municipalities. Includes municipalities with a population of between 10,000 and 25,000 inhabitants.
d) Small continental and small mountainous municipalities. Municipalities with a population of less than 10,000 inhabitants.
e) Large and medium-sized island municipalities. All island municipalities with a population of over 3,500 inhabitants.
f) Small island municipalities. All island municipalities with a population of up to 3,500 inhabitants.

More recently, in order to satisfy requests for better administration of some municipalities with an extensive area to manage, the number of municipalities increased to 332, as five former municipalities have been broken up into 12 new municipalities. The splitting of some municipalities had been a constant request of the residents of those areas from the first years of the implementation of the Kallikratis Programme. Currently, the 332 municipalities are subdivided into 947 municipal units and into 6103 communities (Greek Government Gazette 2010). Through a very recent law passed in June 2021 (Law 4804/2021), the term for both mayors and the General Secretary of Regions was restored to five years (Art. 5 and Art. 43, respectively).

Figure 1: Administrative structure of Greece.png

Figure 1: Administrative structure of Greece


The first level of government is constituted by the municipalities (δήμοι, dímoi; sing. δήμος, dímos), which have resulted from merging several former municipalities and communities (themselves the subject of a previous reform with the 1997 Kapodistrias plan). They are run by a mayor (δήμαρχος, dímarchos) and a municipal council (δημοτικό συμβούλιο, dimotikó symvoúlio), which are elected every four years. The municipalities are further subdivided into municipal units (δημοτικές ενότητες, dimotikés enótites) and finally into communities (κοινότητες, koinótites). Although communities have their own councils, their role is purely advisory to the municipal-level government. The communities will also have separate party lists, their own council and their own budget according to the population and its actual needs. The election of the community council takes place independently of the election ballot for the president (Πρόεδρος Κοινότητας, proedros koinotitas). The president of the community is elected by direct election from among the community councillors. The community council, in municipalities with more than 300 inhabitants, consists of seven members in accordance with Article 80 (Law 4555/2018).


The second level is composed of the regions (Περιφέρειες, periféreies), run by a regional governor (Περιφερειάρχης, perifereiárchis) and a regional council (Περιφερειακό Συμβούλιο, perifereiakó symvoúlio), popularly elected every five years.

The regions are divided into 74 regional units (Περιφερειακές ενότητες, perifereiakés enótites), usually but not always coterminous with the former prefectures. Each regional unit is headed by a vice-regional governor (Αντιπεριφερειάρχης, antiperifereiárchis), drawn from the same political block as the regional governor.

Decentralised administrations

The third level is composed of the decentralised administrations (Αποκεντρωμένες διοικήσεις, apokentroménes dioikísis), comprising one to three regions, run by a government-appointed general secretary called the Coordinator (Συντονιστής, Sintonistis), who is appointed by the government and operates according to its instructions. The Coordinator is assisted by an advisory council drawn from the regional governors and representatives of the municipalities. A total of seven decentralised administrations were established with an area of responsibility that includes one to three regions and the task of implementing government policies at the regional level. The decentralised administrations are a single unit for the decentralised services of the state and exercise general decisive responsibility in the state affairs of their region, in accordance with Article 101 of the Constitution. The decentralised administrations were established to assume the basic responsibilities of the regions after the establishment of the latter as local self-governing organisations. These are responsibilities which were not passed to the local self-government, either due to the provisions of the Constitution or due to their nature; these remain the responsibility of the state. A council, representing the regions and municipalities concerned, is also involved in discharging these responsibilities, but this council is ancillary and cannot take decisions. The decentralised administrations have administrative and financial autonomy and have responsibilities in the urban, environmental and energy sectors, forestry, immigration and citizenship.

The administration is based on a non-federal structure and is decentralised.

Figure 2: Planning system Greece

Figure 2: Planning system of Greece


The Hellenic Parliament is the supreme democratic institution that represents the citizens through an elected body of Members of Parliament (MPs), whose core activity is legislative work (voting on bills and proposals for laws) and scrutinising the work of the government. It consists of 300 deputies, elected by citizens who are eligible to vote through direct, universal, secret and simultaneous ballot, for a term of four years. Voting is compulsory. The parliament is headed by the speaker (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2021).
The legislative initiative belongs to the government, through one or more of its ministers, and to the MPs individually or as a group. Ministers introduce bills (draft laws), amendments and additions to laws while MPs introduce proposals for laws, amendments and additions to laws under the conditions laid down by the Constitution. An explanatory report accompanies every bill and proposal for a law to elaborate on its purpose and objectives. If a bill or a proposal for a law incurs additional expenses for the state budget, it must be accompanied by a General Accounting Office report specifying the amount of the expenditure involved. If a bill results in expenditure or a reduction of revenues, a special report regarding the extent of the expense is attached and is signed by both the Minister of Finance and the competent minister. Bills must also be accompanied by an impact assessment report and by a report on the results of the public consultation that took place prior to the submission of the bill. The Scientific Agency of parliament also submits a review on the proposed provisions (Hellenic Parliament 2010). There are also other means of parliamentary control, such as a vote of confidence, petitions, questions, interpellations, prime minister’s question time, requests to submit documents, debates initiated by MPs, parliamentary control over independent authorities, information and updates, debates outside the order of the day and important innovations.

President of the Hellenic Republic

In accordance with Article 30 Para. 1 of the Constitution, the president of the republic regulates the functions of the institutions of the republic. However, the president’s powers are limited in comparison with those of the prime minister and the ministers. The powers of the president may be characterised as symbolic, regulatory, legislative, administrative and judicial. The president’s main activity is to issue regulatory decrees and to issue acts with a legislative content. Although the president of the republic has limited political power, as most power lies with the government, the president’s duties include formally appointing the prime minister, on whose recommendation they also appoint or dismiss other members of government, and the president also represents the state in its relations with other states, proclaims referendums, etc. Regional and Local Councils discuss and vote on issues that fall within their territories.


The Greek government has the power to propose laws and issue ministerial decrees (either joint or simple). The prime minister is the head of government. The Council of Ministers (Cabinet of Greece), consisting of the prime minister, ministers, deputy ministers and ministers without portfolio, is the collective decision-making body that constitutes the government of Greece (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2019). The deputy ministers are not members of the Council of Ministers, but the prime minister may invite them to attend its meetings without the right to vote.

The Council of Ministers is convened by the prime minister at regular meetings on the first and third Wednesday of each month, unless otherwise specified by the prime minister. It also convenes extraordinarily when necessary, at the invitation of the prime minister. The meeting of the Council of Ministers is convened by a written invitation and notification of the agenda of the issues to be discussed (Ο Πρωθυπουργός της Ελληνικής Δημοκρατίας 2017).

The Council of Ministers:

  • defines and directs the general policy of the country in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law.
  • decides on political issues of a general nature.
  • decides on any matter of competence of collective governmental bodies or on any matter of competence of one or more ministers referred to by the prime minister.
  • the relevant decisions of the Council of Ministers supersede the decisions of the competent bodies.Exercises all other powers provided for by the Constitution and the law.

The government must enjoy the confidence of parliament. The members of the Council of Ministers and the deputy ministers are jointly responsible for the general policies of the government.

The administration of the Greek state is organised on the basis of the principle of decentralisation. According to this system, the central services (except for special functions) coordinate and supervise the regional organs, while the latter have effective control over matters that concern their respective regions, implementing domestic and European policies for the economic and social development within their geographical scope of competence.

The administrations of the local and regional authorities (LRAs) and of the decentralised regions are responsible for day-to-day tasks in those areas and undertake planning for the future. After successive administrative reforms over the last 20 years, the Greek LRAs have now been allocated many responsibilities related to important local/regional affairs, like maintaining educational and health care infrastructures, managing infrastructures like marinas, small ports and airports, developing renewable sources of energy, etc.


In Greece the judicial branch is divided into civil and administrative courts. Civil courts judge civil and penal cases, whereas administrative courts judge administrative cases, namely disputes between the citizens and the state. The judiciary is organised on three levels. The first level consists of local courts (Irinodikia, Protodikia) and local administrative courts (diikitika Protodikia). The second level consists of regional appellate courts (Efetia) and regional administrative courts (diikitika Efetia). The third level consists of the Supreme Court (Arios Pagos), the Supreme Administrative Court (Simvoulio tis Epikratias) and the Court of Auditors (Elegtiko Sinedrio), and of various special courts i.e. military courts or ecclesiastical courts. These high courts are composed of professional judges, who are graduates of the National School of Judges. The way the judges are gradually promoted until they become members of the Supreme Courts is defined by the Constitution and the existing laws. The presidents and the vice-presidents of the three Supreme Courts are chosen from among the serving members of each of the Supreme Courts by the Council of Ministers. The Court of Cassation is the supreme civil and penal court, whereas the Council of State is the supreme administrative court. The Chamber of Accounts has exclusive jurisdiction over certain administrative areas (for example it judges disputes arising from the legislation regulating the pensions of civil servants) and its decisions are irrevocable. This means that they are not judged at second instance by the Council of State.

Figure 3: System of powers Greece

Figure 3: System of powers of Greece

Spatial planning system

Brief outline of the historical development

Major milestones and periods:

1923: The first Law on Urban Plans (Law decree of 17/7/1923).

1976–1979: The first systematic attempt to set a coherent framework for urban and spatial planning in Greece (Law decrees 1003/1971, 1262/1972, 198/1973 and Laws 360/1976, 947/1979).

1980–1989: A new scientific and organised wave (establishment of a dedicated ministry – the Ministry of Spatial planning, Housing and Environment, Law 1032/1980; a dedicated law for an urban planning framework, Law 1337/1983; establishment of master plan organisations for the two most important urban agglomerations, i.e. Athens and Thessaloniki, Laws 1515/1985, 1561/1985; a major programme for elaborating more than 500 urban plans for the majority of cities and towns in Greece).
1990–2013: Introduction of the environmental dimension and the sustainability approach to spatial planning (ministerial decree of 1990; new law on the sustainable development of cities and towns, Law 2508/1997 and Law 2742/1999 on spatial planning and sustainable development; elaboration of national, special and regional spatial planning frameworks; a new major programme for elaborating urban plans and spatial plans for the majority of municipalities in Greece).

2014–2020: Spatial planning and urban planning reforms and modernisations in the framework of financial crisis – a toolbox approach. The first ever law on maritime spatial planning, Laws 4269/2014, 4280/2014, 4447/2016 and 4759/2020.

Legal basis/constitutional framework of spatial planning

The legal framework for spatial planning in Greece originated in 1923 with the Law decree (LD) (nomothetiko diatagma) of 17 July 923 ‘On Urban Plans’ concerning town planning. This law applied for over 50 years. National and regional planning legislation is more recent. The Greek Constitution of 1975 (revised in 1986 and 2001), following the restoration of democracy after a seven-year dictatorship and Law 360/1976 ‘On Spatial Planning’, were the first post Second World War and post-junta legal provisions for supra-urban spatial planning, concerning both urban planning as well as national and regional spatial planning. According to the Greek Constitution, spatial planning is placed under the regulatory authority and the control of the state in the aim of serving the functionality and the development of settlements and of securing the best possible living conditions (Art. 24(1)). For the purpose of urbanisation, the Constitution (Art. 24(3)) provides that properties in the town plans must participate, without compensation, in the disposal of land necessary for the creation of public spaces and public utility areas and contribute toward the expenses for the execution of basic public urban works, as specified by law. Recently, apart from the constitutional provisions, the main body of general planning law consists of three major legislative acts: Law 2742/1999, which concerns territorial spatial planning at the national and regional levels; Law 2508/1997 on sustainable urban planning; and, finally, the building law (Law 1577/1985, amended and supplemented by Law 1772/1988 and 2831/2000), which comprises the general rules for the erection of buildings and other structures on plots and parcels of land (Giannakourou/Balla 2006). Unfortunately, all the aforementioned laws have been radically modified and revised during the last ten years (Laws 4269/2014, 4447/2016 and 4759/2020), reflecting the strong correlation between spatial planning and the radically different political powers that came into government. In parallel, daily discussions were held on two important subjects concerning the ‘out-of-plan’ areas (ektos schediou areas) and illegal constructions, i.e. constructions that have been built illegally either on inappropriate sites (e.g. close to or on archaeological sites, rivers, on the beaches, etc.) or which ignore or exceed building regulations. As these issues affect so many citizens, every effort to ‘normalise’ the building stock will have a heavy political cost. 

1976–1979: During the period 1976–1979, a two-step planning process was introduced. Law 360/1976, introduced an innovative mechanism, the ‘Zone of Active Planning’. The development of these zones would be managed by a development corporation, either private or a private-public partnership, called a ‘mixed economy corporation’ (Vitopoulou/Yiannakou 2018). This mechanism was implemented in very few cases. 

1980–1989: The next Law 1337/1983 introduced a systematic procedure for urban planning, organised into three phases: (1) elaboration of a General Urban Plan, (2) elaboration of an Urban Plan Study and (3) the Urban Plan Implementation Study. It also introduced a variety of urban planning mechanisms such as the ‘active planning zone’ and the ‘urban land reclamation zone’, the ‘special aid zone’, the ‘special incentives zone’ and ‘urban expansion control zones’. Some of those mechanisms were tools for large-scale development or redevelopment and the first attempts to attract big private investment in urban (especially housing) development (e.g. the active planning zone, mixed economy corporation). This law had a very limited application. Meanwhile, it triggered a major programme for implementing the Urban Restructuring Operation (EPA), which aimed to cover almost all of Greece, with updated General Urban Plans, as well as the integration of unauthorised settlements into the city plans.

1990–2013: Law 2742/1999, established a hierarchical relationship between urban and spatial plans. In particular, in accordance with Article 9, the various urban and spatial plans (regulatory plans, General Urban Plans - GUP, Plans for Spatial and Urban Planning for Open Cities - SHOOAP, Zone of Active Planning - ZOE, etc.) must be harmonised with the approved spatial planning frameworks. The harmonisation obligation covers both the urban plans already approved before the entry into force of Law 2742/1999 and those that will be prepared after the approval of the spatial plans, i.e. practically all the urban plans and land use plans. At the end of this period, the ‘General Framework for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development’ (GFSPSD), 12 ‘Regional Frameworks for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development’ (RFSPSD) and five ‘Special Frameworks for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development’ (SFSPSD) (concerning prisons, tourism, renewable energy resources and aquaculture) were set in force based on Law 2742/1999, providing a coherent framework for the entire Greek state. A revised SFSPSD for tourism (2013) was rejected by the Hellenic Council of State (Simvoulio tis Epikrateias) for typical reasons.

2014–2020: During the last seven years, the legal spatial planning framework has been drastically changed three times (2014, 2016 and 2020). The spatial and urban planning reform Law 4269/2014, ‘Spatial and Urban Reform – Sustainable Development’, as revised by Law 4447/2016, ‘Spatial Planning – Sustainable Development’, pursued the overall restructuring and simplification of the spatial planning system and the hierarchy of spatial plans. It also attempts to introduce the private sector into the official spatial planning system. In order to determine areas for private urban development, Law 4280/2014, ‘Environmental Upgrade and Private Urban Development – Sustainable Development of Settlements – Forestry Legislation Regulations’ poses a rather complex framework of pre-conditions and tools, such as the ‘environmental balance’ tool, for urban planning practice. This tool was used to deal with issues of constitutional legitimacy within this type of development. More specifically, the 2016 Spatial Planning Reform (Law 4447/2016) aimed to restructure and simplify the whole spatial planning system and introduce the private sector into the official spatial planning system, and introduced the Special Spatial Plan (ECHS), a new ‘regulatory’ planning tool for the implementation of large-scale or strategic projects and interventions, while the Local Spatial Plan (TCHS) covers an entire local authority, i.e. a municipality.

The main purpose of the very recent spatial planning law (Law 4759/2020) is to simplify and accelerate the process of preparing, revising and modifying spatial frameworks and urban plans at each level, as well as to clarify the relations between them. It sets ambitious targets like the initiative to finance and to set in force 350 Local Urban Plans, covering 32% of Greek LRAs, by 2023, while 100% coverage will be achieved by 2028. It simplifies the urban land use legislation, and establishes the National Land Use Nomenclature (Art. 41-45) which will be applied in a uniform way to all types of land use plans. Land uses are grouped into general land uses and special uses. The land uses are also matched with the relevant Activity Code Numbers (KAD), as well as with the categories of environmental licensing. General land uses are divided into general uses defined by:

a) urban planning and
b) the planning of the protected areas as per Article 19 of Law 1650/1986. The special categories of land use can be further specified by urban planning. Land uses are precisely described in Presidential Decree 59/2019.

General categories of use

  • Residential (exclusively)
  • General residential (mixed)
  • Urban centre - central city functions - local centre of the neighbourhood
  • Tourism - leisure
  • Public benefit functions
  • Free spaces - urban green spaces
  • Productive, low nuisance or low pollution activities
  • Wholesale
  • Technopolis - technology park
  • Productive, high nuisance or high pollution activities
  • Urban infrastructure
  • Special uses
  • Agricultural use

Responsible spatial planning authorities

  • Ministry of Environment and Energy
  • Ministry of Development and Investments
  • Ministry of the Interior
  • Ministry of National Defence
  • Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food
  • Ministry of Culture and Sports
  • Ministry of Infrastructures and Transportation
  • Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of External Affairs
  • Ministry of Citizen Protection
  • Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs
  • Elected regional authorities, elected municipality authorities
  • National Spatial Planning Council (Article 4)
  • Central Council for Spatial Issues and Disputes (KESYPOTHA) (Article 5)
  • Architectural Councils (SA) (Article 46)
  • Responsibilities of Central Architectural Councils (KESA) and Central Town Planning and Disputes Council (KESYPOTHA) (Article 47)
  • Town Planning and Disputes Councils (Article 48)

The main spatial planning instruments 
According to the latest legal framework (Laws 4269/2014, 4280/2014, 4447/2016 and 4759/2020), the main spatial planning instruments are:

On the spatial planning level:

  • National Spatial Strategy (Ethniki Choriki Stratigiki) (Article 3) (non-binding)
  • Special Spatial Frameworks (Idika Chorotaksika Plesia) (Article 7)
  • Regional Spatial Frameworks (Periferiaka Chorotaksika Plesia) (Article 8)

On the urban planning level:

  • Local Urban Plans (Topika Poleodomika Plesia) (Article 10)
  • Special Urban Plans (Idika Poleodomika Plesia) (Article 11)
  • Demarcation of settlements (Oriothetisi Ikismon) (Article 12)
  • Urban Design Implementation Plans (Rimotomika Schedia Efarmogis) (Article 13)
  • Urban Planning Programmes (Programmata Poleodomikou Schediasmou) (Article 14)

For maritime spatial planning: 

  • National Spatial Strategy for Maritime Space and the Structure of Maritime Spatial Planning (Ethniki Choriki Stratigiki) (Article 22)
  • Maritime Spatial Plans (Thalassia Chorotaksika Schedia) (Article 30)

Other instruments:

  • Building coefficient relocation (Chapter VI / Articles 68-78)
  • Digital Land Bank (Article 70)
  • Expropriations due to urban plan implementation (Chapter VIII / Articles 87-93)
  • Regulations on Energy Issues (Chapter XIII / Articles 155-168)
  • Decarbonisation Zones (Zones Apolignitopiisis) (Article 155)

Organised areas for economic activity:

  • Areas for Integrated Tourism Development (POTA) of Article 29 of Law 2545/1997 (AD 254) 
  • Areas for the Organised Development of Productive Activities (POAPD) of Article 24 of Law 1650/1986 (AD 160)
  • Organised Manufacturing Areas and Business Activities of Article 41(4) of Law 3982/2011 (AD 143)
  • Special Plans for the Spatial Development of Public Real Estate (ESCHADA) of Article 12 of Law 3986/2011 (AD 152)
  • Special Plans for the Spatial Development of Strategic Investments (ESCHASE) of Article 24 of Law 3894/2010 (AD 204) and of Law 4608/2019 (AD 66)

The development of organised activities:
Complex Tourist Accommodation / Condo hotels of Article 8 of Law 4002/2011 (AD 180)

Interdependencies and mutual influences

There are many interdependencies and mutual influences between spatial planning and economic development planning, which mostly affect and are affected by the legislation on private investments, the environment and its protection, the legislation on sectoral development and site selection (including tourism) and legislation on local and regional authorities and related administrative reforms. It is worth mentioning that investment laws set in force during the last decade established new mechanisms for exploiting capital and land plots. 

For example, Law 3894/2010 on the ‘Acceleration and Transparency of Implementation of Strategic Investments’ and its supplementary Law 4146/2013 on the ‘Creation of a Development-Friendly Environment for Strategic and Private Investments’ were introduced after 2010. This law allowed for the Special Spatial Development Plans for Strategic Investments (ESCHASE) to be introduced, and specifies the requirements for the implementation of so-called strategic investments in private property. One year later, Law 3986/2011 on ‘Urgent measures for the implementation of the medium-term fiscal strategy framework 2012-2015’ introduced a related planning tool called Special Spatial Development Plans for Public Property (ESCHADA), aiming to enable the exploitation of public property and its flexible development, thus making it more attractive to investors. Another tool introduced to this end by the same law (modified by Law 4092/2012) was the surface rights on public property. 

Legislation for the development of industrial sites is of equal importance. This started with the 1965 law (Law 4458/1965 on ‘Industrial Areas’) and continued through a series of subsequent laws (Law 2454/1997 on ‘Industrial and Business Areas’, Law 3982/2011 on the ‘Simplification of the licensing of technical professional and processing activities and business parks and other provisions’) up to the very recent Ministerial Decree on the ‘Procedure for determining, delimiting and organising the required supporting documents, the mode of operation and management of the Individual Large Unit Business Park (EPMMM)’ (M.D 1270/2020).

Finally, we must underline the importance of legislation on local and regional authorities, as it affects the most important local institutional players. There have been four main reforms during the last 40 years, starting with Law 1622/1986 ‘On Regional Development and Democratic Planning’, through to Law 2539/1997 ‘On the Establishment of Primary Local Government’, which had as its ultimate goal the merging of 11,000 municipalities and communities into 1100 and the initiation of a major programme ‘I. Kapodistrias’, up to the Law 3852/2010 on ‘New Architecture of Self-Government and Decentralised Administration - the Kallikratis Programme’.

Important stakeholders

Institution/stakeholder/authorities Special interest/competences/administrative area
Union of Greek Municipalities Local authorities
Association of Greek Regions Regional authorities
Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftspeople & Merchants (GSEVEE) Association of employers
Hellenic Federation of Enterprises Association of employers
Hellenic Chamber of Hotels Association of employers
HELLENIC PRODUCTION – Industry Roundtable for Growth Association of employers
Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) Association of employers
Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Association of employers
Central Union of Hellenic Chambers Association of employers
General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) Union of workers
National Union of Agricultural Cooperatives Agricultural cooperatives
Hellenic Property Federation (POMIDA) Property owners
Federation of Industries of Greece Facilities services for industrial parks
Technical Chamber of Greece Chamber of Professionals
Geotechnical Chamber of Greece Chamber of Professionals
Economic Chamber of Greece Chamber of Professionals
ANIMA – Wildlife Conservation Society Protection of environment - Non governmental
ARCTUROS Protection of environment - Non governmental
ELLINIKI ETAIRIA - Society for the Environment & Cultural Heritage Protection of environment - Non governmental
Hellenic Ornithological Society Protection of environment - Non governmental
Greenpeace Protection of environment - Non governmental
Environmental Organisation for Wildlife and Nature CALLISTO Protection of environment - Non governmental
Society for the protection of Prespa Protection of environment - Non governmental
MEDASSET - Mediterranean Association to save the sea turtles Protection of environment - Non governmental
Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOM) Protection of environment - Non governmental
World Wildlife Fund Protection of environment - Non governmental
Association of Greek urban planners and spatial planners Urban and spatial planning experts
Technical Chamber of Greece Urban and spatial planning experts

Fact sheets


  • Attachment 1: Topographical map of Greece 

  • Attachment 2: Regions of Greece - The 13 administrative regions of Greece 

  • Attachment 3: Kallikratis programme - Municipalities of Greece

  • Attachment 4: Kallikratis programme - Municipalities and Regions of Greece 

List of references

Συνεισφέροντες στα εγχειρήματα Wikimedia (2005): Κατάλογος γλωσσών και διαλέκτων της Ελλάδας. Available from: Catalogue of languages and dialects spoken in Greece (Accessed 30 November 2020)

Central Intelligence Agency (2017): GDP – composition, by sector of origin. Available from: https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/field/gdp-composition-by-sector-of-origin/ (Accessed 18 January 2023).

ELSTAT (2020): Greece in Figures 2020. Available from: https://www.statistics.gr/documents/20181/1515741/GreeceInFigures_2020Q3_GR.pdf/ffac04c4-3fd2-5088-9380-f727621c1436 (Accessed 02 December 2020)

ELSTAT (2020): Greek Economy. Available from: https://www.statistics.gr/documents/20181/16865424/greek_economy_18_12_2020.pdf/5244852a-8cda-b519-75d6-c89a011e595b (Accessed 18 December 2020)

ELSTAT (2020): Available from: https://www.statistics.gr/el/statistics/-/publication/SPO18/- (Accessed 15 December 2020)

Elstat (2021): Greek Census 2022, 41. Available from: https://elstat-outsourcers.statistics.gr/Census2022_GR.pdf (Accessed 18 January 2023)

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European Environment Agency (2018): Land cover country fact sheets 2000-2018. Available at: https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/landuse/land-cover-country-fact-sheets (Accessed 18 January 2023).

EUROSTAT (n.d.): Population and population change statistics - Statistics Explained. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Population_and_population_change_statistics#Population_change_at_a_national_level (Accessed 16 December 2020)

EUROSTAT (n.d.): National accounts and GDP. Available from: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=National_accounts_and_GDP#Developments_for_GDP_in_the_EU-27:_growth_since_2014 (Accessed 16 December 2020)

GEODATA (n.d.): Regions of Greece - The 13 administrative regions of Greece. Available from: geodata.gov.gr (Accessed 22 January 2021)

Giannakourou, G.; Balla, E. (2006): Planning regulation, property protection and regulatory takings in the Greek planning law. Available from: https://internationalplanninglaw.net.technion.ac.il/files/2013/09/GiannakourouBalla.pdf (Accessed 18 January 2021)

Greek Government Gazette (2010): ΕΦΗΜΕΡΙΣ ΤΗΣ ΚΥΒΕΡΝΗΣΕΩΣ. Available from: https://www.ypes.gr/UserFiles/f0ff9297-f516-40ff-a70e-eca84e2ec9b9/nomos_kallikrati_9_6_2010.pdf (Accessed 17 December 2020)

Greek Government Gazette 133Α of 19-7-2018 (see also in Wikisource in Greek)

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2019): Government and Politics - About Greece. Available from: https://www.mfa.gr/missionsabroad/en/about-greece/government-and-politics/ (Accessed 22 December 2020)

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2020): Available from: https://www.mfa.gr/en/foreign-policy/greece-in-the-eu/greeces-course-in-the-eu.html (Accessed 22 December 2020)

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2021): Available from: https://www.mfa.gr/usa/en/about-greece/government-and-politics/the-hellenic-parliament.html (Accessed 5 December 2020)

Greek Ministry of the Interior (2020): Available from: https://www.ypes.gr/apokentromeni-dioikisi-aytodioikisi/dioikitiki-diairesi-aytodioikisis (Accessed 11 December 2020)

Η Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών (n.d.): Οριακή μείωση του πληθυσμού της χώρας. Available from: https://www.efsyn.gr/node/275015 (Accessed 30 December 2020)

Hellenic Parliament (2010): The Institution. Available from: https://www.hellenicparliament.gr/en/Vouli-ton-Ellinon/O-Thesmos/ (Accessed 5 December 2020)

Human Development Reports (2021): Human Development Index. Available at: https://hdr.undp.org/data-center/human-development-index#/indicies/HDI (Accessed 18 January 2023). 

Law 4555 of 2018, Article 2. Available from: Law 4600 of 2019, Article 154 (in Greek)

National Census 2011, ELSTAT, Greece in Figures 2020

Ο Πρωθυπουργός της Ελληνικής Δημοκρατίας. (2017): Collective Bodies | Ο Πρωθυπουργός της Ελληνικής Δημοκρατίας. Available from: https://primeminister.gr/en/the-government/collective-bodies (Accessed 12 December 2020)

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Vitopoulou, A.; Yiannakou, A. (2018): Public land policy and urban planning in Greece: Diachronic continuities and abrupt reversals in a context of crisis. European Urban and Regional Studies, Vol. 27(3), 259–275. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1177/0969776418811894 (Accessed 11 January 2021)

Wikimedia (2010): Kallikratis programme - Municipalities and Communities of Greece. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_and_communities_of_Greece#/media/File:Kallikratis_dioikisi.png (Accessed 04 February 2021)

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Wikipedia (2020): Geography of Greece. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Greece (Accessed 06 November 2020)

Wikipedia (2021): Geography of Greece. The World Fact Book – Field Listing: Coastline. CIA. (2011) Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Greece#cite_note-2 (Accessed 11 November 2020)

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Wikipedia (n.d.): Topographical map of Greece. Available from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Greece_topo.jpg (Accessed 16 January 2021)

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