Gerd Höhler is the Athens correspondent for Handelsblatt, covering Greece and neighboring countries.
The euro zone has saved well over €1 trillion in interest payments over the last decade, but governments have failed to use the windfall to get their budgets in order.
The practice of selling residence permits and even passports, while lucrative, is an invitation to criminal elements, international watchdogs say.
Now free of its debt crisis aid package, Greece's government is again pressing Berlin to pay billions in compensation for the death and destruction it suffered under German occupation in WWII.
Economists say the country must make good on cost-cutting and debt-servicing pledges before they sound the all-clear.
Countries like Greece reward property investors with EU residence permits and often even passports. But experts warn of shady deals and illegal transactions in the billion-dollar business.
With the bailout due to end next year, Greece is making a tentative return to the bond market. But things could still go wrong, especially with February’s bank stress test.
Even with the European Court of Justice’s dismissal of complaints by Hungary and Slovakia over refugee quotas, efforts to allocate asylum seekers across Europe are falling short of their target.
Greece’s four largest banks, hit hard by a decade of crisis, are recovering and predict profits this year. But bad debt remains their Achilles’ Heel.
Eager investors oversubscribe Athens’ €3 billion worth of debt as the country makes progress in stabilizing its budget deficits.
Greece is fast running out of money. Meanwhile the EU and IMF squabble about debt relief and just how fast the Greek economy is expected to grow.