The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 11.2 m
Capital Athens
Surface area 130,700 km2
Official Language Greek (‘Demotic’ vernacular – as opposed to standard literary form)
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 261.4 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 2.2
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 93.9
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.942
World rank in HDI 26/177
Key economic sectors Services (70.3); industry (22.4); agriculture (7.3 – the highest in the EU)
Leading Companies National Bank of Greece; Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company; EFG Eurobank Ergasias
Unemployment in January 2010 9.7% (source:
Main religious denominations 91% of the population belong to the Christian Eastern Orthodox Church
Political system A presidential parliamentary democracy The Chamber of Deputies, elected for four-year terms, elects the President for a term of five years
Electoral system Proportional representation for the Chamber, with a 3% threshold
Current (March 2010) leaders President: Karolos Papoulias (b. 1929), since February 2005
Prime minister: Georgios Papandreou (b. 1952), since October 2009
Previous leaders: Presidents: Kostis Stephanopoulos (1995-2005); Konstantinos Karamanlis (1990-95)
Prime ministers: Konstantinos Karamanlis (2004-09); Kostas Simitis (1996-2004)
Joined the EU/EC 1981
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Maria Damanaki (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries)
Number of MEPs 22/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 52.6
Member of eurozone Yes (from 1 January 2001)

Except where a specific reference is inserted, the sources for this profile are either Neill Nugent’s book itself, or Barry Turner (ed.), The Statesman’s Yearbook Online, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. If your library subscribes, you can gain access at