Canadian entrepreneur Steve Earle traveled to Greece with plans for what he hoped would be a flourishing business in a sunny, island-rich nation: a sea-plane airline.
But Mr. Earle's company, AirSea Lines, went bust five years later in 2008–hindered in large part, he says, by government bureaucracy. "They killed it by inertia," he says. "Greece is an unsustainable reality."
AirSea's odyssey illustrates one of the key problems preventing Greece from generating the economic growth it needs to pay off its heavy debts: Critics say a sprawling civil service has tried to secure its own survival through an opaque patchwork of fees, taxes and red tape. The European Commission estimates the administrative burden of Greece's bureaucracy–the value of work devoted to dealing with government-imposed administration–is equivalent to 7% of gross domestic product, twice the EU average.