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Strategically located at the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, Greece forms the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula in south-east Europe. Its territory includes several hundred islands in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean seas, of which only 227 are inhabited. Eighty per cent of Greece is mountainous and Mount Olympus is the highest point in the country (2 917m).
The most important sectors of Greece’s economy in 2012 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (23.2 %), public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (21.2 %) and real estate activities (16.7 %).
Greece’s main export partners are Turkey, Italy and Germany while its main import partners are Russia, Germany and Italy.
Geographical size: 131 957 km²
Population: 11 123 034 (2012)
Population as % of total EU population: 2.2 % (2012)
GDP: € 193.347 billion (2012)
Official EU language(s): Greek
Political system: parliamentary republic
EU member country since: 1 January 1981
Seats in the European Parliament: 21
Currency: Eurozone member since 1 January 2001
Passport-free travel? Yes, Schengen Area member since 6 November 1992
Presidency of the Council: Greece has held the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU 5 times between 1983 and 2014.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Greek government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Greek presidencies:
Jul-Dec 1983 | Jul-Dec 1988 | Jan-Jun 1994 | Jan-Jun 2003 | Jan-Jun 2014
More on the current presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
Greece has 12 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
Greece has 12 representatives on the Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Greece also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As Greece's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of Greece's finances with the EU in 2012:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by Greece helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Greece benefits from EU funding.