Already at the heart of one migration crisis, Greece is struggling with another that has gone largely unnoticed, but may create new headaches for the country's battered economy.
Debt troubles and the resulting political and economic turmoil has prompted a growing number of Greek companies to migrate operations to neighboring countries such as Bulgaria and Cyprus, where taxes are a fraction of what they are in Greece. The shift has exacerbated what was already a common occurrence in the Hellenic Republic: Tax evasion, which government officials estimate costs the economy $20 billion in annual revenue.
Thanks to an attractive tax regime, Bulgaria has emerged as the European Union's very own version of America's Delaware, a haven for companies looking to play tax arbitrage. With a corporate tax rate of 10 percent, low incorporation costs and a glide path for foreign companies to set up shop, scores of Greek companies are seeking shelter in Bulgaria. The country's tax rate is even more generous than the 12.5 percent seen in Ireland — also a draw for multinational corporations looking to elude the grasp of the tax man.
According to Bulgaria's Registry Agency, almost 14,400 Greek companies registered there by the end of 2014. Provisional data also shows that an additional 4,500 Greek-owned companies were founded in Bulgaria in 2015 — a stunning average rate of 12 companies a day.
Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce director Gabriela Dimitrova told CNBC that Greece currently tops the list of the countries with foreign companies registered in Bulgaria, with those numbers "constantly growing."