02-03-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

02-03-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, March 2, 2018

Two Greek troops held in Turkey for accidentally crossing the border

Two Greek troops are held by the Turkish army since Thursday morning for accidentally crossing the Greek-Turkish border on Evros.


Talks between Greece and mission chiefs were constructive, says institutions representative

Talks between the Greek government and the institutions were constructive and the government has pledged to take the necessary steps to complete the fourth program review in time, a representative of the institutions said on Thursday, at the end of the first phase of the negotiations.


Nouy: Dealing with NPLs in Greece imperative for banking sector’s recovery

The head of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) supervisory board SSM chief Danièle Nouy on Thursday “stayed on message” in reiterating that Greece’s four systemic banks remain “somewhat weak”, with more time and decisiveness needed for their complete recovery.


Continuing spate of violence, anarchists vandalize shops on central Athens street

Self-styled anarchists ran amok along Patission Street on Friday, vandalizing storefronts, the latest act in a spate of lawlessness in Athens.


Public Gas Corp. signs 48 mln euro loan agreement with EIB

Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) signed a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Thursday to build natural gas networks in eastern and central Macedonia, Thrace and mainland Greece.


Consumers don’t see a recovery in their pockets

The economic atmosphere is improving but few Greeks are feeling it in their pockets. This contradiction, widely expected given how long the road to recovery is, was clearly reflected in the business and consumer surveys of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) for February.


ATHEX: FTSE index shifts cut losses

Despite the upward momentum during the closing auctions on Thursday, the benchmark of the Greek stock market still ended the day in negative territory. However, the majority of mid- and small-caps posted gains, so that winners outnumbered losers on the stock board.







KATHIMERINI: Businesses are optimistic while markets remain distrustful

ETHNOS: Kickbacks linked to the construction of Metro lines

TA NEA: First crack in the government.  Alternate Defense Minister Kouvelis stated that he is going to refer directly to the PM and not Defense Minister Kammenos

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Political parties took kickbacks for the projects regarding the construction of Metro lines

AVGI: Kickbacks received by PASOK and New Democracy for Metro projects

RIZOSPASTIS: Series of antipopular measures included as prior actions in the 4th bailout program ‘review’

KONTRA NEWS: New Democracy and PASOK took kickbacks of 7% for the Metro line project!

DIMOKRATIA: Alternate minister Polakis appointed an unskilled friend of his at the Santorini hospital

NAFTEMPORIKI: Tight schedule for the 4th bailout program review

Theresa May has great timing. The U.K. prime minister is launching a final bid to stop Brexit from turning toxic by promising to trade more freely, broadly and deeply than ever … on the same day a global trade war is kicking off. She’s also delivering her address the same day Dutch PM Mark Rutte gives his first major speech on the EU, an act that marks the changing of the guard at the head of the EU’s liberal bloc.


EU ENGULFED IN TRADE WAR AS TRUMP SLAPS DOWN STEEL TARIFFS: Europe is facing an all-out trade war — ignited by the United States slapping steel tariffs of between 10 and 25 percent on America’s imports of steel and aluminum — stretching from Asia to Latin America. While direct retaliation will be tempting, that’s not Europe’s immediate problem, POLITICO’s trade team reports. “The far more complex challenge for Brussels will be calculating how to cope with the sudden shifts in global steel supply,” which could see it dumped in EU markets.

THERESA MAY SETS OUT HER BREXIT STALL, AGAIN: In a heavily trailed speech to be delivered at 2:30 p.m. Brussels time, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will set out five “tests” to guide the U.K. through the rest of Brexit negotiations. Brexit used to mean Brexit, but it now means “real change” and the “broadest and deepest possible agreement,” bigger than any other free trade pact in the world. Just as key ally Donald Trump embarks on a trade war, May is promising Britain will be a “champion of free trade.” Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper write that it’s May’s last chance to stop Brexit talks from turning toxic.

A Downing Street spokesperson said May’s five tests are:

— Does the deal let Britain “take control of our borders, laws and money?”

— Can the EU deal “endure?”

— Will the deal “protect people’s jobs and security?”

— Will the deal leave the U.K. “a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy?”

— Will the deal “strengthen our union of nations and our union of people?”

“What I am seeking is a relationship that goes beyond the transactional to one where we support each other’s interests,” May will say. Some might even call that a utopian vision when compared to the recent lack of unity and speed around U.K. government’s Brexit efforts.

COMMISSION — MOVE TO TIGHTEN NGO FUNDING RULES AFTER OXFAM SCANDAL: Devex reports that the EU “is open to an aid worker register as well as revamping the ‘rules of engagement’ with the charities it funds in the wake of sexual misconduct by staff at Oxfam and elsewhere.” The move follows a Commission data hunt, collecting information from 200 organizations that receive funding from its development departments regarding their prevention, detection and response systems for staff misconduct.

POSTED WORKERS DIRECTIVE DEAL: Marianne Thyssen is a very happy European commissioner, after the “contours” of a deal were sealed Thursday on one of the EU’s most contentious policy debates. “The possible agreement establishes the principle of equal pay for equal work on the same place,” Thyssen said in a written statement. The upshot: The Commission argues this deal would eliminate second-class workers and the undercutting of wages.

PARLIAMENT — NEW VICE PRESIDENT: Zdzisław Krasnodębski from the European Conservatives and Reformists group was elected one of European Parliament’s 14 vice presidents Thursday. Ryszard Czarnecki was removed from the post for denigrating fellow MEP Róża Thun (EPP) as a “shmaltsovnik” (an offensive Polish term for someone who blackmailed Jews or Poles protecting Jews during the Nazi occupation).

PARLIAMENT — HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT TELLS GRÄßLE TO SHUT UP: MEP Ingeborg Gräßle is angry at the Hungarian government’s alleged favorable treatment of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s family and wants a serious inquiry. That prompted János Lázár, the prime minister’s chief of staff, to say — without evidence — that she has an unrequited crush on Orbán and that “A correct European Parliament member stays nicely quiet in this situation, and says her opinion after April 8,” the date of Hungary’s national election.

DIGITAL POLITICS — EU INSTITUTION AGREE DEAL ON MOBILE SPECTRUM USE: Joanna Plucinska reports for POLITICO Tech Pros that EU institutions have agreed that spectrum licenses should last 15 years, with extension options. Negotiators also agreed to free up extra spectrum bands for 5G by 2020, according to two parliamentary insiders. Telecoms companies collectively pay billions of euros to license 3G and 4G spectrum. The changes are a key pillar of the European Electronic Communications Code, the EU’s sweeping telecoms reforms currently under negotiation.

PARTY PEOPLE — WHO KILLED SOCIAL DEMOCRACY? Beyond Portugal and perhaps Sweden, it’s hard to find a Socialist government in Europe today that isn’t dysfunctional and plagued by corruption allegations. In France, the Socialists poll in the single digits, Germany is barely better and the bright spot of Italy may be in its last days. The collapse of the center left may have short term benefits for Christian Democrats in particular, but it also risks destabilizing the Continent’s politics, writes POLITICO’s Matthew Karnitsching.

EU AGENCIES — CATCHING UP WITH EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY’S JAN WÖRNER: The head of Europe’s space program tells Tom Risen why he disagrees with NASA on how soon to send humans to Mars and how Europe will support the Trump administration in its pivot to return humans to the moon, even though it rejects Trump’s cuts to climate change and Earth science research. Wörner also says ESA astronauts are learning Chinese to prepare to work with the country’s space agency.


WHAT A SURPRISE! TAJANI ACCEPTS BERLUSCONI BACKING FOR PM: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Thursday night announced he had accepted Silvio Berlusconi’s proposal to be Forza Italia’s prime ministerial candidate. “I gave him, tonight, my willingness to serve Italy,” Tajani tweeted. Like his fellow Italian, Gianni Pittella, who is also running in the Italian election (for a senate seat), Tajani has not resigned his European Parliament post or foregone his salary while campaigning.

Meanwhile the 5Star movement is already announcing its Cabinet: They aren’t waiting to actually win the election first, reports Giada Zampano. The point perhaps is to show they are both reasonable and ready in the eyes of doubting voters, via a team of “several university professors, a Carabinieri general, a two-time Olympic champion, and women to head up the interior, foreign and defense ministries.”

BERLUSCONI — FROM FEMINIST PUNCHING BAG TO GLASS-CEILING BREAKER: Berlusconi’s political protégée Annagrazia Calabria shows how, despite his casual misogyny, the media mogul has helped vault women into power, argues Hannah Roberts for POLITICO.

STATISTICAL OVERVIEW OF THE ELECTION: In a special report by Cattaneo Zanetto sent to clients and obtained by POLITICO, you’ll find an overview of recent major polls and approval ratings for all the parties and their leaders.

WATCH OUT FOR … STEVE BANNON: The incendiary former Trump strategist has arrived in Rome for the election, believing it will herald a populist nationalist wave in Europe.


THE NETHERLANDS — THE OTHER EU SPEECH TODAY: Dutch PM Mark Rutte, according to Playbook’s government source, will this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. give his first major speech about the EU. The purpose: to seize the moment at home (Rutte is leading his third different government in five months, thanks to an unplanned reshuffle last week), jump into the vacuum left by the German and Italian elections, and fashion the Netherlands as the leader of Europe’s liberal bloc post-Brexit. Playbook’s source says Rutte’s speech will have “positive tones”  about the importance of EU cooperation, but he will insist that the EU has to practice what it preaches and deliver what it has already promised. The speech will be broadcast on NPO Politiek 24 and Rutte’s Facebook page.

SPAIN — PUIGDEMONT ENDORSES JAILED LEADER FOR CATALAN PRESIDENT: Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday announced he was “provisionally” renouncing his candidacy and endorsing Jordi Sànchez, head of the pro-independence Catalan National Assembly, who’s currently in prison.

GERMANY — BERLIN SO WHITE: The first ever study of Berlin’s public sector reports “a significant lack of diversity.” That is to say the staff of public authorities is 97 percent white. On the upside, that’s twice as ethnically diverse as the Brussels EU bubble.


Listen immediately by clicking here | Download this episode to listen offline via Apple Podcasts.

Blair details what he thinks is wrong with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy, and why he think the EU will trip up if it treats reforms debates in terms of its own institutional power.

Hard Brexit will mean big, angry European version of Singapore: If Brexit continues on its current course, Blair predicts there will be “a long and difficult period of economic restructuring” in Britain. As part of that process, the U.K. will become “a competitor to Europe, not an ally” and will “attract investment basically by pointing the finger at Europe and saying ‘we’re not like them.’”

Immigration fears: While preferring to look past the consequences of his government’s decision not to restrict EU immigration into the U.K. from 2004, Blair admits he could have done more within EU freedom of movement rules to pre-emptively tackle immigration fears. “I think that frankly what I didn’t really understand fully is how different countries in Europe deal with the existing freedom rules in Europe … In Belgium you’re given two months to find a job and if you don’t, you’re out.”

UK government handling of Northern Ireland: “It makes me very angry, I think it’s totally irresponsible.”

Blair on Blair: The former prime minister tells us about his worst EU summit moment, his European political hero, what he thinks about retirement and what keeps him grounded. On his aborted tilt at European Council president in 2009: “I would have done it if I was asked. I wasn’t and there were lots of different reasons for that.” Blair was in town to give a speech at an event organized by the European Policy Centre.


UK PARLIAMENT VOTE ON CUSTOMS UNION MAY NOT BE LEGALLY BINDING: Upcoming votes on key pieces of Brexit legislation, the Customs Bill and the Trade Bill, pose serious dangers to May’s Brexit strategy, after pro-EU Conservative MPs tabled amendments pushing for the U.K. to remain in a customs union — a policy position now officially endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the European Research Group of Brexit-supporting Tory MPs, told POLITICO the key amendment to the Trade Bill, tabled by backbench colleague Anna Soubry, was vague in its demand and questioned whether it would have “effect in law” — a position shared by government lawyers, according to a minister who spoke on condition of anonymity.


UKRAINE STILL WRESTLING WITH ITS PAST: Nearly four years after Russia occupied and annexed Crimea, Ukrainians’ dreams of an open future remain unfulfilled, Bruno Maçães finds. The country is neither winning its war in Donbas, nor winning the peace. Instead, it’s fragmenting.