01-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 01-09-2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Third review negotiations commence on Mon.; Athens’ fulfilment of bailout ‘prior actions’ under scrutiny

Greece’s (third) memorandum obligations again come into the picture, beginning on Monday, with the Euro Working Group serving as the first venue where the country’s commitments to institutional creditors will come under scrutiny in order to conclude the third review of the ongoing bailout program.


Kotzias has positive talks in FYROM

Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Dimitrov, told reporters Thursday at a joint press conference that they are laying the groundwork of the process that will allow negotiations to resolve the decades-old dispute over the tiny Balkan country’s name. http://www.ekathimerini.com/221292/article/ekathimerini/news/kotzias-has-positive-talks-in-fyrom

Police to simulate terror attack in Athens

The Greek Police will in the coming weeks be conducting a training exercise in the center of Athens to test the emergency response to terrorists, Kathimerini has learned.


Growth is built on shaky ground

Retail sales may be on the rise, contributing to an increase in gross domestic product, as Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) second-quarter figures are expected to confirm on Friday, but analysts warn that Greeks are eating into their savings for this spending – which is not a good omen at all for the return of growth on a solid basis.


Energy exchange to debut in Greece in first half of 2018

A long-awaited energy exchange is expected to be established in Greece in the first half of 2018, with four separate markets eyed for trade in electricity, including “next-day” sales, spot products, power derivatives and a load balance market.


Hellenic Petroleum reports Q2 profit rise

Greece’s biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum reported a 46 percent rise in second-quarter core profit Thursday as a combination of lower crude prices and rising fuel prices lifted its margins.


Alpha profit tumbles in Q2 while National posts net loss

National Bank, Greece’s second-biggest lender by assets, swung to losses in the second half of the year, while Alpha, Greece’s fourth-largest, reported sharply lower profit in April-to-June after taking a loss on the sale of its Serbian subsidiary, despite lower provisions for impaired loans.


ATHEX: Blue chips buoy index

Most Greek stocks gave up ground on Thursday, but the benchmark edged higher again on gains by power-packing blue chips including ADMIE, Mytilineos and Alpha Bank.







KATHIMERINI: Savings are fuelling the recovery

TA NEA: A ‘recital’ of promises


AVGI: The five stepping stones of the third evaluation

RIZOSPASTIS: The extension of the deal for Souda is a dangerous development for the people

KONTRA NEWS: Who will press the button first to initiate the 3rd World War

DIMOKRATIA: “You’re all nonsense! Only GAP is a leader”

NAFTEMPORIKI: French “Revolution” in employment relations


Playbook doesn’t enjoy writing about it anymore than you enjoy reading about it, but whether you are in the Austrian mountains, a Brussels café, or a London pub, it’s where all political conversations continue to drift to including today.

Stalemate and a gaping divide: Think of it as modern day trench warfare. While British Brexit Secretary David Davis claimed some concrete progress and that this week’s talks were “productive,” few believed it. Most observers accept the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s version of events. “We haven’t noted any decisive progress on the principal subjects” and are “quite far” from the “sufficient progress” benchmark the EU has set for allowing parallel discussions on the future EU-U.K. relationship, Barnier said. Admitting only to “impatience” with the slow progress, he added: “If I do get angry one day I assure you it will be obvious.”

UK’s Mission Impossible: The accusation the U.K. is finding hardest to shake is that it is cherry-picking the EU’s benefits while escaping its frustrations and costs. “You cannot be outside the single market yet shape its legal order,” Barnier said. David Herszenhorn and Charlie Cooper analyze the U.K.’s conundrum.

Funny money: Barnier accused the U.K. of trying to renege on legal obligations it made to Ukraine, EU countries and to certain developing countries via long-term project funding. Meanwhile, EU officials complained the U.K.’s “position papers” are not positions but merely reflections or series of options, making actual negotiation difficult. Davis’ flexibility included saying the U.K. has “moral obligations” in addition to whatever its legal financial obligations may be.

How Davis and Barnier played: Davis had the best zinger: “I wouldn’t confuse belief in the free market for nostalgia,” he said after Barnier hinted the U.K. seemed to regret Brexit. Yet for the most part, Davis offered domestically tailored talking points, while Barnier gripped the current sticking points and gave more convincing reflections on them.

Barnier did his job: He held the line, looking the part of cool negotiator, and deploying deft put-downs that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Downton Abbey script. Example: “Perhaps not all [issues] have been debated in sufficient depth in the United Kingdom.” Davis, while more assured than in July, didn’t quite do his job, which was to indicate a way out of the impasse.

Glimmers of progress: Ireland appears to be the issue that bore most fruit, with Davis claiming “a high degree of convergence.” He also claimed “useful clarifications” on the issues of frontier (border area) workers, future social security and health care rights of those living abroad, and reciprocal professional qualification recognition.

Brexit podcast du jour: Paul Adamson talks to Steve Fidler, the Wall Street Journal’s Brexit editor. “I hear from both sides that there is a real possibility of a breakdown in the negotiations — probably in the run up to the October European Council, after the Conservative Party conference.”

Guy goes off: Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator, writes in the Telegraph: “For years the EU bent over backwards to please Britain. Now you ask for ‘flexibility’?”

LONDON CALLING: Rarely have London and Brussels politics been so intertwined. A true irony of the Brexit vote is that for the first time in decades, many in Britain are paying real attention to EU politics — and vice versa. So it’s the ideal time for POLITICO to expand the Playbook service into London and offer deeper insights to those who care about what happens here. My aim is to replicate much of what Ryan does with Brussels Playbook – create a must-read morning briefing for anyone who wants to know what really matters in Westminster each day.

MAY AWAY DAY IN JAPAN: Theresa May completes a three-day trip to Japan this morning, which perfectly illustrated the problems she faces back home. Downing Street’s big idea was to grab some positive headlines about a post-Brexit trade deal with Japan, show off “Global Britain” and counter-balance Brexit negotiation gloom.

What really happened: May’s trade mission was completely overshadowed — first by the North Korean missile crisis and then swirling questions about Brexit and her own future. The PM has been so weakened by her summer election failure that she is now dogged by rumors about when she will quit. By responding bullishly — saying she will stay to fight the next election in 2022 — her exit date became the only story in town.

Did she mean it? Few in Westminster think so. Most Tory MPs I spoke to want her in place to deliver Brexit and to disappear in 2019. They accept she may need to talk tough in the meantime to maintain a semblance of authority. Any sign she really does plan to cling on in Number 10 Downing Street beyond the next two years would likely trigger a leadership challenge.


So how about that Japan trade deal? Britain’s plan to “copy and paste” the EU’s draft deal with Japan drew predictable criticism from Remainers back home. They wonder what then is the point in leaving in the first place. But May scored a decent win by securing a strong pledge from the Japanese to “work quickly to establish a new economic partnership between Japan and the U.K. based on the final terms of the Economic Partnership Agreement,” (signed in July between the EU and Japan).

Make Brexit predictable: Despite those warm assurances, Japanese PM Shinzō Abe seemed far more preoccupied with the impact Brexit will have on Japanese firms in Britain than talking future trade. At a joint press conference with May in Tokyo he repeatedly called for a “transparent and predictable” Brexit process.

Which leads us back to … Thursday’s other big press conference, starring David Davis and Michel Barnier, which is the main show in the British media this morning. Barnier’s stinging verdict on Britain’s negotiating stance will draw heavy fire this morning from the pro-Brexit press, but it hit the mark, leaving many in Westminster privately wondering if a no-deal Brexit just got closer.

Who picks up the check? The row over the so-called divorce bill was always coming and is living up to Westminster fears. In truth, Davis is in a bind: If he agrees to pay up he will be whipped back home. But with Barnier refusing to even discuss future trade, there’s no upside to the current impasse.

COMMISSION — JUNCKER WILL PROPOSE FAST-TRACKING EU TRADE DEALS: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker aims to solve one of the greatest weaknesses of EU trade policy by proposing fast-track ratification of trade deals that would eliminate the need for approval by some 40 parliaments across Europe. Based on conversations with EU officials, parliament advisers and diplomats from Down Under, POLITICO expects Juncker to announce the new policy in his State of the European Union Speech September 13. EU countries would have to approve Juncker’s proposals. Planned Australia and New Zealand trade pacts would be the first two deals falling under the new process.

ITALIANS GO ROGUE ON RIGATONI: Emmet Livingstone and Jacopo Barigazzi report Italian pasta labels are testing the limits of EU law. Now Brussels must decide whether to allow more protectionism, even if that undermines the single market.


NEW CAR EMISSION TESTS IN PLACE FROM TODAY: New car models must be tested on the road in real driving conditions before they can be sold, to ensure more reliable emission test results and to boost trust in Europe’s tarnished car sector. Here’s a European Commission video on how the tests are done.

— What about cars already on the road? The Commission points the finger at national governments. “Member states must do their job, enforce the law and take additional steps, together with all stakeholders, to bring down emissions of the existing fleet,” European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska said.

EUROSKEPTICS HATE THAT THE EU IS REDUCING THIS POWER: New rules come into force today governing vacuum cleaner energy efficiency. They also ban noisy vacuum cleaners from sale in the EU and (alongside reduced power toasters) have been a lightning rod for Euroskeptics. Manufacturers actually supported the changes and green campaigners such as the Coolproducts coalition say consumers will save money over the lifetime of their vacuum cleaners.

NEW CLIMATE PUSH FROM GERMAN GOVERNMENT TO YOUR LOCAL MAYOR: Ministers and officials from 25 national and subnational governments, including Germany, Mexico and South Korea, as well as the U.S., today sign a joint statement pledging to strengthen action on climate change. The signing caps a meeting of climate policymakers in Lisbon, convened by the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) and co-hosted by the Portuguese environment ministry.

EUROZONE — INFLATION UP SLIGHTLY (AND THAT’S A GOOD THING): The European Central Bank has for years struggled to hit its inflation target of near 2 percent. The eurozone’s headline inflation accelerated to 1.5 percent in August from 1.3 percent in July, preliminary Eurostat data showed.


Your guide to Sunday’s election debate: Janosch Delcker runs you through everything you need to know about the debate between the two leading candidates for German chancellor, Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz.

Gabriel signals SPD set to lose, will join only Red-Green coalition: In an interview Wednesday, Sigmar Gabriel admitted the SPD will likely lose the election, and reiterated his party wants to be in government only if it can provide the chancellor, rather than be Merkel’s junior partner.

FDP to close Germany’s wallet: In a warning for Greece, France and others in the eurozone, the Free Democrats have indicated they’ll get tough on fiscal policy if they end up in a ruling German coalition. “My impression is that Mrs. Merkel has already agreed with [French President Emmanuel] Macron to set up new money pots and transfers in Europe for the time after our election,” Christian Lindner, the party’s leader, told Bloomberg. “Euro countries must be responsible for their own fiscal policy.”

FRANCE — MACRON UNVEILS LABOR REFORM PLAN: Emmanuel Macron revealed his long-awaited plan to reform France’s labor code Thursday, which would shift his country towards German norms and introduce company-level (rather than sectoral) bargaining, and make it easier to fire workers.

With an absolute majority in the National Assembly, Macron can force the legislation, but in France power resides in the streets as much as the parliament. Secret talks with union leaders appear to have paid off for now, as the country’s largest union, CFDT, said it would not join street protests. The left-wing CGT trade union is however planning September protests. Nicholas Vinocur has five takeaways from the reform announcement.

HUNGARY — WE BUILT A WALL, EU PAY FOR IT: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will ask the EU for €400 million to help Budapest pay for its border protection expenses, including a newly built fence on its border with Serbia, chief of staff János Lázár said Thursday. More from Saim Saeed.

CENTRAL EUROPE — UNITY UNDER STRAIN: Lili Bayer on how the rest of the EU views a Visegrád Group split down the middle.

CATALONIA — TERROR, ERROR AND BLAME: Amadeu Altafaj, representative of the government of Catalonia to the European Union, writes for POLITICO that claims Catalan nationalists are campaigning on the backs of terror victims are wrong.