01-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 01-08-2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Stournaras: Greece weighed down by dysfunctional institutions

Despite signs of improvement, society in Greece is weighed down by dysfunctional institutions which undermine excellence, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras has said.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220524/article/ekathimerini/business/stournaras-greece-weighed-down-by-dysfunctional-institutions

Prosecutor recommends conviction of ex-ELSTAT chief

An Athens prosecutor recommended Monday that Greece’s former statistics chief, Andreas Georgiou, be convicted for breach of duty for not relinquishing the post he held at the International Monetary Fund while heading the statistics agency (ELSTAT) between August and November in 2010.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220546/article/ekathimerini/news/prosecutor-recommends-conviction-of-ex-elstat-chief

Tourism could create more jobs, study argues

Employment in Greece owes a lot to tourism, and the potential is there for an even greater contribution to the labor market, according to a study by the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (INE/GSEE).

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220551/article/ekathimerini/business/tourism-could-create-more-jobs-study-argues

Half of Greeks can’t afford a week’s holiday

More than half of Greeks cannot afford to go for a one-week holiday, according to research conducted and released Monday by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics service.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220553/article/ekathimerini/news/half-of-greeks-cant-afford-a-weeks-holiday

Retail sales edge up in May

Greek retail sales by volume rose 0.3 percent in May compared to the same month a year ago, after a downwardly revised 2.1 percent rise in April, statistics service ELSTAT said on Monday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220548/article/ekathimerini/business/retail-sales-edge-up-in-may

Greek industry continues its dramatic contraction

The sad saga of Greek industrial shutdowns has continued this summer with the compulsory sale of the flagship A.G. Petzetakis plant and the failed tender of Hellenic Steel in Thessaloniki by its Italian owner.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220544/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-industry-continues-its-dramatic-contraction

ATHEX: Athens stock market’s decline continues

The Greek bourse ended July with a monthly decline of 1.40 percent for its benchmark, mainly due to the drop recorded on Monday that was led by bank stocks. Tuesday’s session is seen as crucial because a lack of reaction by buyers will signify a further drop in the medium term.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220547/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-athens-stock-markets-decline-continues

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KATHIMERINI: Those who earn more than 35,000 Euros are going to see their revenues slashed

TA NEA: Universities are turning their back to the future. The era of ghosts for education

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Bundle of significant changes for the education system

AVGI: New Democracy in a bout of hysteria

RIZOSPASTIS: Greek Communist Party: Parliamentary amendment for unpaid workers

KONTRA NEWS: Foreign funds should not be sold a single house

DIMOKRATIA: Bank of Greece Governor Stournaras: “Slash pensions more!”

NAFTEMPORIKI: First evaluation of the growth plan

WATCH: European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen roam around a virtual reality version of the Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters and talk about match-making for investors and companies.

EIB — VW OBTAINED €400M LOAN FRAUDULENTLY: It gets worse for the German car industry and the army of officials that deal with it. Volkswagen fraudulently secured €400 million in loans from the European Investment Bank to develop the engine at the heart of the Dieselgate scandal, according to officials at the EU anti-fraud watchdog OLAF. Giulia Paravicini has the details.

The EIB also reduced its commitments in Turkey, a reflection of the downward trend in EU-Turkey relations, reports FAZ’s Christian Geinitz here.

EUROSTAT — EU UNEMPLOYMENT LOWEST SINCE 2008, 7.7 PERCENT: The euro area is higher at 9.1 percent, largely due to Spain (17.1 percent) and Greece (21.7 percent).

COMMISSION — WHAT’S NEXT IN THE POLAND CASE: The European Commission is undertaking a surgical strike by chasing Poland for a gender and age discrimination element of its judicial reforms. To quote a popular analogy, that’s like going after gangster Al Capone for tax evasion. Poland is unlikely to satisfy the European Commission in any reply it offers over the next 30 days regarding the complaint launched Saturday. The best clue: Poland said Monday it will continue cutting down trees in the ancient Białowieża forest despite a European Court of Justice order to stop large-scale logging, after the Commission referred the country to the court in mid-July. In other words, Poland doesn’t care about legal letters from the Commission. Maïa de la Baume with more details.

COMMISSION — GABRIEL ADDS THREE TEAM MEMBERS: As previously reported by Playbook and POLITICO’s Brussels Influence newsletter, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel’s new chief of staff is Lora Borissova. She will be joined by Carl-Christian Buhr, a Commission veteran who has previously worked with Neelie Kroes and Günther Oettinger, as deputy chief of staff, a Commission official confirmed to our colleagues at Morning Tech. Other new appointees to Gabriel’s cabinet include Eric Peters, a French official from the Commission’s tech policy department, and Andrea Almeida, Gabriel’s former assistant in the European Parliament.

PARLIAMENT —  PRESIDENT TAJANI INTERVIEW: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani may be on vacation, but he’s never too busy relaxing to talk with Italian media. He spoke about the rise of protectionism and the need to put national interests to one side in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera. Highlights:

On the rise of protectionism: “We face tough competition from the United States … China, India and other giants. We should only think in European dimensions, otherwise we’ll be marginalized. And this is true of anti-dumping and trade policies: Either we speak in a single voice, or individual states are destined for irrelevance.”

Size matters: “No [single] European country can stand up to the big players on the global scene.”

Don’t forget the south: “Paris can and must be a protagonist but not alone or alone with Berlin. Italy, and also Spain, have a greater role to play.”

On Libya: “Any initiative in Libya, either French or Italian, must be made with a link and European support. Otherwise, we will never stabilize the situation … we would commit the same mistake as in 2011, when we acted randomly … The result was [a] disaster.”

On French President Emmanuel Macron’s move to nationalize the STX shipyard: Asked about Macron’s decision to temporarily nationalize the STX shipyard rather than allow it to be bought by an Italian firm, Tajani said: “One government cannot be judged by a single initiative. I hope Macron … keeps his promises, pledging to strengthen the EU with a French contribution. Protecting the interests of France does not necessarily mean going against Europe.”

THE FRANCE-ITALY SNUBTEXT: Speaking of the STX shipyard and Libya, Pierre Briançon and Jacopo Barigazzi peel back the layers of Macron treading on Italy’s toes twice in a week. First, the French president attempted to broker peace between Libya’s warring factions without consulting Italy, despite its history in the country and the role it plays in taking in refugees. The decision to nationalize STX further inflamed tensions with Rome, which has long complained of French protectionism.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire will visit Rome today.

MIGRATION — NGOs SPLIT OVER ITALIAN RESCUE CODE OF CONDUCT: “Five aid groups that operate migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean refused to sign up to the Italian government’s code of conduct on Monday, the interior ministry said, but three others backed the new rules,” Reuters reported. Médecins Sans Frontières is among those refusing to sign. MSF decided to reject up to  €60 million in EU funds in 2016 to support the bloc’s refugee management in Greece over concerns it violated international law.

GERMANY TO COMMISSION: SUSPEND EU-TURKEY CUSTOMS UNION UPGRADE. Germany wants the European Commission to stop work on upgrading the customs union with Turkey as well as suspend the transfer of EU funds to Ankara.

BREXIT LATEST …

Opinion — The good Brexit news ‘they’ are not telling you. MEP Daniel Hannan for the New York Times.

A contrasting opinion — “To say that ministers are fighting like cats in a bag does a disservice to cats, who at least know what they want and how they might achieve it,” writes Politics.co.uk’s Ian Dunt on the cabinet split on free movement.

Wikileaks Macron email dump: The industrial-scale information traffickers say they have verified more than 21,000 emails from Macron advisers, including some related to Brexit. Many of the key documents date from 2016 and the authors tend not to be key administration figures, meaning relevance to current debates is limited.

FRANCE — PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES AGREE DEAL ON LABOR REFORM: The agreement by seven assembly members and seven senators must now be endorsed by the full chambers of each house, and at that point would enable the executive to move forward with introducing more flexibility into labor markets. Le Monde with AFP.

FRANCE — SWEDEN MEETING: The French president met with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Paris to discuss climate, migration and the future of EU integration. More from SVD.

GREECE — OPPOSITION DEMANDS SECRET GREXIT PLAN: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paid a visit to Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro not long after SYRIZA came to power in 2013 looking for support in the form of oil in the event he successfully pulled Greece out of the eurozone, according to Eleftheros Typos. In response to the story, the opposition New Democracy party demanded the government publish its Grexit plans.

VENEZUELA — EU CONDEMNS ELECTION VIOLENCE: Leaders of EU institutions condemned Sunday’s Venezuelan vote for a constituent assembly, which will write a new constitution and give the ruling party greater powers. In a statement, the EU’s diplomatic service and the European Commission said the bloc had “serious doubts” about the outcome, and denounced the “excessive and disproportionate” use of force. Parliament President Antonio Tajani said in a statement Monday: “We will not recognize this election.”

VENEZUELA — PORTUGUESE ANGLE: Venezuela has a large Portuguese community, many of whom are citizens of Portugal. As the crisis unfolds, many of these people now face the choice of whether to stay put or travel to Europe. A mass exodus would be serious enough, but many originate from the archipelago of Madeira, which is already strained by an influx of migrants.

SLOVAKIA — EDUCATION MINISTER UNDER PRESSURE OVER EU FUNDS: Peter Plavčan, Slovakia’s education minister, is under fire over allegations he directed EU funds intended for science research to private companies, according to Miro Grman.

NORWAY — ELECTION COUNTDOWN: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg wants to stay leader of the Right Party even if she loses the September election, she told VG, saying she had “good stamina.”

RUSSIA — THE MAN WHO WOULD BEAT PUTIN: Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and his team have been subject to relentless attacks and jail time. Leonid Volkov, chief of staff for Navalny’s run for the country’s presidency in an election to be held next March, believes that’s a sign they’re on the right track, reports Marc Bennetts. While the spotlight has shone on Navalny’s sensational exposés of high-level corruption, it’s Volkov’s organizational effort that has given “political footholds in regions far from the capital, in towns and cities that will be essential to any attempt to loosen Putin’s almost two-decade-long grip on power.”

THE TWO TRUMP WORLDS …

Trump is a man without a party or a Mooch: The news Trump had fired Anthony Scaramucci barely a week after he took over as White House communications director led news reports the world over Monday night. The firing led to an immediate wave of sarcastic tributes to the ‘Scaramucci era’ online. POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey, Annie Karni  and Tara Palmeri report Scaramucci’s firing came at the direct request of Trump’s new chief of staff John Kelly, and take readers through his short, wild ride through Trump’s White House.

Meanwhile, Trump’s vice president is as stable as ever: Fresh off a solid visit to Estonia, Mike Pence touched down in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday night and headed off to a gaffe-free dinner with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly and their wives. As CNN’s Erin McPike notes, Pence just keeps piling up goodwill and photo-ops. He’s off to Montenegro next, where he probably won’t shove Prime Minister Duško Marković.

PODCAST DU JOUR — POLITICO INTERVIEWS LEBANESE PM SAAD HARIRI: The topic for Susan Glasser’s interview: “Why the Middle East hated Obama but loves Trump.” The topline answer: “Clarity,” according to the prime minister, and the hope for a more decisive approach. Listen to the podcast. Read a transcript.

SUMMER WONK READ — WHAT A EUROZONE FINANCE MINISTER WOULD MEAN: By Bruegel’s Guntram Wolff.

APPOINTED: The European Democrat Students, the official student organization of the European People’s Party, has elected a new executive committee headed by Virgilio Falco (StudiCentro Italy) and Tomasz Kaniecki (SMD Poland). The vice chairmen are: Sara Alexandra Juriks (HS Norway), Tommi Pyykkö (TK Finland), Beppe Galea (SDM Malta), Róbert Kiss (RMKDM Romania), Carlo Giacomo Angrisano Girauta (NNGG Spain), Andreas Poetis (FPK Protoporia Cyprus) and Libertas Ezako (edH Belgium).