Greece has managed to achieve a strong economy that is growing fast after the implementation of stabilization policies in recent years. Greece remains a net importer of industrial and capital goods, foodstuffs, and petroleum. Leading exports are manufactured goods, food and beverages, petroleum products, cement, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The people of Greece enjoy a high standard of living, reflected by the country's high Human Development Index and Quality-of-life index.
Greece realigned its economy as part of EU membership that began in 1981. Greek businesses are adjusting to competition from EU firms and successive governments have had to liberalize their economic and commercial regulations and practices. However, Greece had been granted waivers from certain aspects of the EU's 1992 single market program.
Historically, Greece has been a net beneficiary of the EU budget. Net payments to Greece totaled $4.9 billion in 1998, representing 4.2% of GDP. Net inflows were estimated at about $5 billion in 1998. Greece received substantial support from the EU through the Delors II package. In July 1994, the Greek government and the EU agreed on a final plan which provided Greece 16.6 billion ECU for the period, of which 14 billion ECU was from the Community Support Framework and 2.6 billion ECU was from the Cohesion Fund. That level of assistance continued in 1999 financing major public works and economic development projects, competitiveness and human resources programs, the improvement of living conditions and also addressed disparities between poorer and more developed regions of the country. Greece is set to receive 20.1 billion euros of funds from the EU's budget, or approximately 1,8% of GDP.