The global political, economic and security environment is increasingly characterised by complexity and instability, demanding joint efforts to address highly interrelated problems. To that end, the development of a whole-of-government approach (WGA) aims to provide a formula for the effective coordination of actors, both at the national and international levels, in order to maximise the effectiveness of policies and to ensure their coherence when pursuing common objectives.
However, in many countries – including Greece – the concept of WGA has long been an overlooked priority, and it is only recently that they have started taking the steps needed to adopt a WGA in their national policies. For many years, Greece has been characterised by deep-seated departmentalism, with various ministries being responsible for the development and implementation of policies in their respective field. The rigid structures of public institutions have nurtured the perception that different problems should be addressed independently by the responsible ministry or other national authority, while coordination of actors has been very limited and has usually only taken place on an ad hoc basis.
Nevertheless, over the last decade, Greece has had to face two unexpected crises that would challenge this perception, highlighting the need for both horizontal and vertical cooperation aimed at finding common solutions. Indeed, the country’s economic breakdown, coupled with an unprecedented influx of refugees, presented a set of problems that no ministry was able to deal with on its own. At the same time, leading international organisations (e.g. the UN, NATO and the OECD) were increasingly making explicit references to a WGA as a useful framework for policy development. Thus, over the last decade, Greece has started to take small, yet obvious steps towards the introduction of the WGA concept at the national level. At present, although there is still a long way to go before Greece will be implementing a WGA on all its internal and external policies, the country offers some tangible evidence that, in certain policy areas, a WGA has begun to underpin both policy development and the operational coordination of the actors involved. The policy areas that provide the most significant indications of a WGA are sustainable development and Greece’s participation in CSDP missions and PESCO projects.