01-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

01-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, December 01, 2017

Authenticity of Saudi arms deal docs questioned

After casting doubt on the authenticity of the documents Defense Minister Panos Kammenos submitted to Parliament on Monday that supposedly prove Vassilis Papadopoulos was authorized by Saudi Arabia to broker a deal for Greece to sell it arms and missiles, New Democracy on Thursday accused the Independent Greeks leader of breaking the law and deception.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223774/article/ekathimerini/news/authenticity-of-saudi-arms-deal-docs-questioned

IMF spox: Support for Regling proposal to use leftover bailout funds to pay-off past Greek loans

An IMF spokesman on Thursday reiterated that the Fund will not participate, as a lender, in the Greek program without an agreement for further debt relief, saying the latter is necessary in order to activate an agreement – sketched out in principle – last summer.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1300420/imf-spox-support-for-regling-proposal-to-use-leftover-bailout-funds-to-pay-off-past-greek-loans

Eurostat: Cyprus, Greece top EU terms of power rate hikes in H1 2017

Cyprus and Greece recorded the biggest increases in household electricity rates in the first half of 2017, whereas the average rate in the Eurozone was up marginally during the same period.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1300440/eurostat-cyprus-greece-top-eu-terms-of-power-rate-hikes-in-h1-2017 

Huge interest in the receipt lottery draw

After months of delays, the first receipt lottery was conducted on Thursday, with the lucky 1,000 taxpayers set to collect 1,000 euros each in cash next week. The measure is intended to encourage the use of electronic transactions to boost state revenues and contain tax evasion.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223770/article/ekathimerini/business/huge-interest-in-the-receipt-lottery-draw

Greek retail sales post drop in September

Greek retail sales by volume declined 0.8 percent in September compared to the same month a year ago after an upwardly revised 0.8 percent increase in August, statistics service ELSTAT said on Thursday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223763/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-retail-sales-post-drop-in-september

DESFA deadline pushed to January

The deadline for the submission of binding offers for the 66 percent controlling stake in gas grid operator DESFA has been put off from December 22 to January 2018.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223735/article/ekathimerini/business/desfa-deadline-pushed-to-january

ATHEX: Greek stocks climb out of red at end of session

The closing auctions buoyed the Greek bourse benchmark out of the red on Thursday, with turnover reaching heights unseen since late September, at 92 million euros.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223761/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-greek-stocks-climb-out-of-red-at-end-of-session

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KATHIMERINI: Electricity power sold at ‘Sweden-high’ prices

ETHNOS: Lack of understanding within New Democracy regarding the arms deal with Saudi Arabia

TA NEA: The ‘tsunami’ of auctions hits ruling party SYRIZA

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Revelations in Brussels. New Democracy MEPs vote against the embargo for the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia despite its involvement in the Yemen conflict

AVGI: Political commitment by the government for the protection of low-earners’ residencies

RIZOSPASTIS: Agreement between the US and Greece: The country’s involvement in plans that are dangerous for the people is larger than ever

KONTRA NEWS: The ‘sharks’ snatched the money that were handed out without controls by banks

DIMOKRATIA: How to challenge taxes and fines

NAFTEMPORIKI: Nearing an agreement for the closing of the bailout programme review

ONE RED CARPET FOR MOGHERINI: Europe At Sea premieres today — it’s a documentary about High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, who Annalisa Piras followed for 18 months. It’s available on Amazon. Trailer here.

TWO FACES OF EMMANUEL MACRON: He was elected as Europe’s champion confronting a wave of loud Euroskepticism. Yet six months into his term, a growing chorus of critics accuses the French president of veering into a form of soft protectionism, putting the European single market at risk, Nicholas Vinocur reports.

SIX POLITICAL TRIBES OF EUROPE: Surveys of 10,000 Europeans identified six distinct “political tribes” of voters, more nuanced than “pro” and “anti” EU, who will shape the bloc’s future. According to the Chatham House study, “EU rejecters” and “federalists” wield disproportionate political influence. Thomas Raines, co-author of the paper, writes: “The key challenge for political leaders will be engaging the tribe we’ve dubbed the ‘hesitant Europeans’ — the largest tribe, and the key swing group for the future.”

The six political tribes …

Hesitant Europeans (36 percent of the sample) are open to the EU but need persuading.
Contented Europeans (23 percent) are optimistic and pro-European. Often young and broadly socially liberal.
EU rejecters (14 percent) are angry about politics and the EU. Most feel negative about immigration and are socially conservative.
Frustrated pro-Europeans (9 percent) want a more integrated EU driven by progressive values.
Austerity rebels (9 percent) want a looser, more democratic EU driven by solidarity, with powers returned to member countries.
Federalists (8 percent) support a deeply integrated “United States of Europe” and tend to be wealthier, older and male.

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

EUROGROUP — LATVIA, PORTUGAL, SLOVAKIA, LUXEMBOURG BID FOR PRESIDENCY: Latvia’s center-right Dana Reizniece-Ozola (POLITICO 28 last year), Portugal’s Mário Centeno, Slovakia’s Peter Kažimír and the Grand Duchy’s Pierre Gramegna put in bids Thursday. The decision will be made Monday; the winner needs the backing of at least 10 governments.

Eastern Europe strikes back through Eurogroup bid: No one should have been surprised by Peter Kažimír’s bid to be Eurogroup president; after all he delivered what amounted to a campaign manifesto in a speech to economic think tank Bruegel in September. Yet many were caught off-guard by the Socialist finance minister’s disruption of the planned consensus socialist candidacy of Mario Cénteno. After Slovakia was snubbed in its bid to host the European Medicines Agency two weeks ago, the die was cast.

Vote informally for your Eurogroup candidate hereh/t Jim Brunsden

COMMISSION — VAT REFORM PROPOSALS LAUNCHED.

COMMISSION — VESTAGER SAYS AB INBEV MAKING BEER MORE EXPENSIVE: “Belgian consumers may have had to pay more for their favorite beers … AB InBev may have deliberately prevented cheaper beer imports out of France and the Netherlands from reaching consumers in Belgium.

EU CONFIDENTIAL LATEST EPISODE — GLYPHODRAMA REIGNS: This week is a double-interview episode with Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis and European Food Safety Agency chief Bernhard Uhl, who says the science is clear that glyphosate is safe, but it’s nevertheless legitimate to discuss what kind of value system should support the EU’s agriculture.

Listen immediately by clicking here | Download via Apple iTunes.

‘Safest food in the world’: Uhl said EFSA rejects “about 80 percent of the proposed claims” food companies make about the health benefits of their products.

The EU can now hold national governments to account on their health policies for the first time, said Andriukaitis, because it now possesses nationally collected data from each EU country, which can be used to nudge governments “more precisely” to better health outcomes.

The EU’s digital chain of 300 health policy laboratories: “We joined together more than 300 hospitals in 26 member states. Now we will launch [an] IT platform which can help us to connect from Lisbon to Helsinki,” Andriukaitis said. He will also rely on this “reference network” of hospitals to lead the way in implementing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation across the health sector, saying that readiness to implement the new law is “very mixed.”

PARTY PEOPLE — CONGRESSES IN AMSTERDAM, LISBON: Socialists gather in Lisbon, and Liberals head to Amsterdam.

2018 EU BUDGET AGREED: Parliament and Council both adopted the spending plan, though in Parliament, the  Socialists and Democrats abstained.

MEP ADVENT CALENDAR: LibrariesEU is launching its 60 Books project with a Twitter advent calendar featuring a book recommended by an MEP every day until Christmas day. All the books can be borrowed from the Muntpunt library here in Brussels. h/t Hannah (Gent) Thominet

FOREIGN AFFAIRS — EU-AFGHANISTAN AGREEMENT COMES INTO FORCE: Read it here.

PLAYBOOK LIFE — JACK BLANCHARD WRITING LONDON PLAYBOOK IN CAMOUFLAGE ON A MILITARY PLANE OVER IRAQ.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS — WORRY ABOUT LACK OF ANTI-RADIATION TREATMENTS IN EU: Experts in security policy and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) from across Europe warned in an assessment that non-state agents dropping so-called dirty bombs in a terror attack are the greatest acute radiation syndrome risk Europeans face and governments aren’t prepared. The experts found EU countries stockpile only potassium iodide, and “only a few specialized facilities and military hospitals are trained and equipped to cope with irradiated or contaminated casualties in case of a nuclear war.” The experts support EU-based manufacturing and stockpiling of other medical radiation countermeasures. The U.S. spends hundreds of million each year on CBRN research.

SECURITY — PRAGUE (IN)SECURITY CONFERENCE: The security policy industry is big and industrious, and yet the world seem less secure than in recent years. This conference in Prague aims to shake the bubble by casting a critical eye on its conventional wisdoms. Thursday’s highlights included: NATO’s General Petr Pavel saying the alliance’s clearest recent contribution is securing its eastern flank and James Der Derian of the University of Sydney arguing that quantum artificial intelligence is about to change everything about diplomacy, warfare and statecraft.

Today Andrew Moravcsik of Princeton University will argue that “21st-century foreign policy populism is unsustainable. Populist leaders fail to implement most of the concrete policies they promise.” He will add: “Europe, not China, is the world’s second superpower. It spends more and is far more active militarily than China throughout the world. It trades more and uses trade and aid effectively as foreign policy tools. It dominates most international organizations. Its soft power — education, sports, inherited culture, languages, constitutional models — far outstrips the U.S. or China.”

EU NATIONAL NEWS

UK — TRUMP MAKES THERESA MAY GREAT AGAIN: Uproar over President Donald Trump’s retweets of an account linked to the far-right, Islamophobic Britain First movement showed no signs of abating Thursday, and it’s helping Brits see the up-side of having Theresa May as their leader. British MPs took to the floor of the House of Commons to denounce Trump as a “fascist,” “stupid,” “racist or incompetent or unthinking or all three.” Home Secretary Amber Rudd suggested she would support calls for Trump to delete his Twitter account.

UK Ambassador Kim Darroch did not mince his words in conveying his annoyance to the White House.

Trump’s visit canceled: A low-key “working visit” by Trump to the U.K. that had been penciled in for January has been canceled in the wake of the spat, according to the Telegraph.

Quentin Letts argues the “outrage Olympics” over the episode is “a self-defeating show of puffed-up outrage.”

SLOVAKIA — GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES PRO-EU, NATO INFORMATION CAMPAIGN: The move is to counter what the government calls “disinformation campaigns” and attacks “against the Western community.” The move comes in parallel with a survey that found half of young Slovaks want the “white race” to be protected.

CZECH REPUBLIC — BABIŠ NAMES MINISTERS: The new finance minister is Alena Schillerová; industry minister is Tomáš Hüner, previously a manager at Siemens; interior minister is Lubomír Metnar, currently security director of the Vítkovice district, and founding member of the BOS movement of former soldiers and policemen, which some have described as a security threat.

IRELAND — CABINET RESHUFFLE: Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, is the country’s new deputy prime minister after Frances Fitzgerald was forced out of office Tuesday.

ROMANIA AND BULGARIA SAY GOODBYE TO CANADIAN VISAS: From today, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will no longer need visas to enter Canada for short visits, following a deal reached in May this year.

GREECE — GOVERNMENT UNDER PRESSURE OVER SAUDI ARMS EXPORTS.

DENMARK — PARLIAMENT REVOLTS AGAINST NORD STREAM 2: The Danish parliament on Thursday adopted a law allowing the foreign minister to reject the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline based on foreign policy concerns, reports Anca Gurzu for POLITICO Pro Energy and Environment subscribers. The law adds an additional step to the permitting procedure for pipeline projects running through Denmark’s territorial waters and is another sign the construction of gas pipeline projects has divided EU countries in recent years.

BREXIT 360°

‘Le Brexit task force’ prepares France for no deal: Dozens of high-level French civil servants started meeting to plan for Brexit in July 2016, write Nicholas Vinocur and Maïa de La Baume. “The task force, which holds regular physical meetings, is charged with examining every possible implication of Brexit for France across 20 areas … For each area of interest, it has drawn up contingency plans examining all possible outcomes, including a ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ exit from the EU.”

Please don’t take my boss seriously: This is what British diplomats are telling their Irish counterparts about Boris Johnson, according to Sky News.

The Economist’s view on the Irish border: Brexit will require painful choices, and “In the year ahead there will plenty of that.”

UK lawmakers say border may be unavoidable: The U.K.’s intention to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit is inconsistent with its plan to withdraw from the EU’s single market and customs union, lawmakers on the U.K.’s Brexit committee said in a report released today.

BEYOND EU

US — TILLERSON ON THE OUTS: The White House plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo “within the next several weeks,” the New York Times reports.

US — ADRIATIC DEFENSE MEETING: FYROM hosts the U.S.-Adriatic Charter defense ministerial meeting today in Ohrid.

EURO-MED DIALOGUE: It’s Day 2 of the Mediterranean Dialogues, a three-day event hosted by the Italian government. Keynote speeches from High Representative Federica Mogherini, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry, his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Saudi Arabia’s Adel al-Jubeir. Agenda here, livestream here.