02-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 02-08-2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Premier defends new education bill opposition decries as regressive

Eager to polish the government’s leftist credentials, tainted by yet another swath of belt-tightening measures, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday sought to defend a new education bill perceived as plunging Greek universities into the past.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220580/article/ekathimerini/news/premier-defends-new-education-bill-opposition-decries-as-regressive

Varoufakis slams Tsipras in interview with German newspaper

Yanis Varoufakis has lashed out again at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, describing him as one who “signs whatever [German Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schaeuble and others bring to him.”

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220573/article/ekathimerini/news/varoufakis-slams-tsipras-in-interview-with-german-newspaper

Commission spokeswoman: EU has full confidence in EL.STAT between 2010-2015

A European Commission spokeswoman on Tuesday reiterated that the EU executive has full confidence in Greece’s national statistical service (EL.STAT) between the years 2010 and 2015 “and beyond”, in reaction to a same-day conviction of the bureau’s former president on one misdemeanor charge of breach of duty.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1263733/commission-spokeswoman-eu-has-full-confidence-in-elstat-between-2010-2015

Far-right anti-migrant ship told it’s not welcome in Crete

Dozens of protesters gathered in the town of Ieraptera on the southern Aegean island of Crete on Monday night to rally against the possible arrival of the C-Star, a ship chartered by far-right activists aiming to prevent migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220563/article/ekathimerini/news/far-right-anti-migrant-ship-told-its-not-welcome-in-crete

Big scope for growth in hotel takings

A report by the National Bank of Greece issued on Tuesday proposes a plan that could earn Greece an extra 5 billion euros in tourism revenues every year by increasing investment, extending the season and providing the right promotion for the country as a destination.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220585/article/ekathimerini/business/big-scope-for-growth-in-hotel-takings

Improved econ sentiment in Greece recorded in July

The Greek economic sentiment index rose in July to 98.2 points, up from 94 points in June, the highest level since February 2015, the Athens-based Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) announced on Tuesday.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1263853/improved-econ-sentiment-in-greece-recorded-in-July

Greece slips down on global social progress chart

Greece has fallen one spot in the social progress chart drafted by the Social Progress Initiative and Deloitte. The country dropped to 33rd place among 128 states, from 32nd last year.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220575/article/ekathimerini/business/greece-slips-down-on-global-social-progress-chart

ATHEX: Reports lead to small recovery

The benchmark of the Greek bourse regained some much needed ground on the first day of August, following a few sessions when sellers had the upper hand. It was helped by reports on economic sentiment in Greece and from Morgan Stanley. Still, the recovery was contained during the closing auctions.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220581/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-reports-lead-to-small-recovery

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KATHIMERINI: University-entry exams sacrificed at the altar of populism

TA NEA: PM Tsipras: “You called me a liar on my birthday”. New Democracy main opposition party leader Mitsotakis: “You lost your humour, you need vacations”’

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: German fraud with European funds. Volkswagen was funded with 400 million Euros after deceiving the European Investment Bank

AVGI: Two worlds collide on the Greek universities’ future

RIZOSPASTIS: The government’s ultimate criterion are the interests of business groups

KONTRA NEWS: Head-on collision between PM Tsipras and New Democracy leader Mitsotakis

DIMOKRATIA: Former PM Papandreou and former FinMin Papakonstantinou fear for their fate after the conviction of the former Statistics Authority head, Georgiou

NAFTEMPORIKI: Confiscations for debts owed to the state have become a noose

COUNCIL — POST-BREXIT AGENCY BIDS ARE IN: A total of 19 countries are vying to host the European Medicines Agency after Brexit — six of which are also bidding to win the European Banking Authority, the Council of the European Union announced Tuesday. The EU27 will choose a winner in up to three rounds of secret voting, using a scoring system that makes the way the Eurovision song contest is decided look simple by comparison. The EMA vote goes first, followed by the EBA. Helen Collis, Bjarke Smith-Meyer and Carmen Paun have the details.

GERMANY’S DIESEL SUMMIT: Around a dozen senior German politicians will today meet with the CEOs of Germany’s largest auto companies at an event called earlier this year to agree a way of reducing harmful emissions. In reality, the talks are likely to be dominated by the never-ending scandal involving the industry only months before Germany’s parliamentary elections. In recent weeks, new allegations surfaced suggesting carmakers Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, Audi and Porsche colluded in technical working groups going back decades to thwart competition. It’ll be a fine balancing act for the politicians at the event. On the one hand, they’ll be expected to stand up to companies accused of unethical behavior, but not come down too hard on Germany’s flagship industry, which employs around 800,000 people. Janosch Delcker and Joshua Posaner have the details, and a list of the major political players taking part in the meeting.

EIB chair expresses ‘disappointment’ over latest VW allegations: “We are very disappointed at what is asserted by the OLAF investigation, namely that the EIB was misled by VW about the use of the defeat device,” EIB President Werner Hoyer said in a statement Tuesday. “VW is an excellent company, but it has not been served well by its top management since the beginning of this affair.” Giulia Paravicini has the details for POLITICO Pro Transport, Energy and Environment and Financial Services subscribers.

COMMISSION — EXTRA GABRIEL CABINET APPOINTMENTS: Two more people have joined European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel’s cabinet, according to a Commission official: Manuel Mateo Goyet and Alina Ujupan.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs DEMAND SANCTIONS ON VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT: Venezuela’s Supreme Court sent two opposition leaders back to prison for allegedly violating the terms of their house arrest and U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called for urgent political negotiations between the government and the opposition on Tuesday. MEPs want more action from EU leaders: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani wrote to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk, demanding asset freezes and travel bans on Venezuelan leaders (see the letters here).

Meanwhile, Spain came out against sanctions, despite the fact Esteban González Pons, a senior MEP from the government’s ruling party, called for the EU to impose restrictions on Nicolás Maduro’s government. “Given this situation, it is urgent that the European Union immediately adopt all available measures to try [to get] the Venezuelan government to stop this escalation that only leads to more violence and more division in the country,” Pons said.

ITALY, FRANCE POSTPONE SHIPYARD DECISION: French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire failed to resolve a dispute with the Italian government Tuesday in Rome. The spat kicked off after President Emmanuel Macron nationalized STX, a French shipyard, reversing a deal agreed by his predecessor François Hollande that would have seen Italian company Fincantieri take a majority stake in the firm. Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will discuss the issue at a joint summit September 27.

SWEDEN — DATA SECURITY FEARS AT 6 STATE AGENCIES: The Swedish government is scrambling to ensure personal data held by six state agencies, including those dealing with education, pensions and health, are secure, a week after two ministers resigned over a scandal involving the outsourcing of personal data by the transport agency to countries like Serbia. SVT, the national broadcaster, obtained emails sent by ministry officials to the agencies asking questions about outsourcing arrangements.

BREXIT CORNER …

How to make Brexit art: Some dramatists think the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU is simply too big to deal with through art. Others disagree. Mick Jagger this week released two Brexit-themed songs, “England Lost” and “Get a Grip.” TV and film critic Mark Lawson describes the challenges facing artists in the age of Brexit.

Brits happy to suffer to leave EU: Three out of five Brexiteers and one in three Remainers wouldn’t mind the British economy sustaining “significant damage” in order to be proven right on Brexit, according to a YouGov poll.

William Hague backs EEA-style transition: Former Conservative Cabinet Minister William Hague backed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s plan for a three-year transitional period as the best way to prevent post-Brexit disaster. So do a cross-party group of MPs, according to the Guardian, who are seeking to force a vote on whether the U.K. should stay in the European Economic Area for a transitional period.

Banking job losses: Up to 40,000 financial services jobs would leave Britain and banks’ costs could rise by as much as 4 percent if the U.K. leaves the EU without a trade deal, according to a report from consultancy firm Oliver Wyman. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank signed a new agreement committing itself to a big HQ in London for at least 25 years, although Bloomberg reports the bank is set to shift 4,000 workers to Continental Europe in coming years. Cat Contiguglia writes the banking Brexodus is a trickle so far — but it could become a flood.

Sort out worker status now: “It’s not fair on people to not give them some kind of clarity as quickly as possible,” Seb James, CEO of Dixons Carphone, a firm that employs 4,000 citizens from other EU countries in the U.K., told Reuters.

FRANCE — CAN A NEW SARKOZY REVIVE FRENCH RIGHT’S FORTUNES? Gérald Darmanin, who defected from Les Républicains to become a minister in Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government, is widely expected to jump ship again when the time is right to pitch himself as the French Right’s savior. A nasty spat has broken out between competing factions in the Républicains, one led by hard-liner Laurent Wauquiez, who wants open confrontation with the government, and another, led by former Finance Minister François Baroin, who wants to take a more conciliatory line. Nicholas Vinocur writes that the 35-year-old Darmanin has conveniently stayed out of the fracas.

AUSTRIA — KERN LAUNCHES SPO MANIFESTO: Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern launched his Social Democratic Party’s 200-page manifesto under the banner “I take what I deserve,” ahead of the country’s October parliamentary election. Relations with the People’s Party, Kern’s center-right coalition partner, have rapidly worsened, with the chancellor at the weekend accusing Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka of mismanaging the police force.

GREECE — PARTIAL GUILTY VERDICT FOR CHIEF STATISTICIAN: A high court in Greece convicted Andreas Georgiou, the former head of Greece’s statistics authority, to two years in prison for breaching some of his responsibilities, although two other more serious allegations were dismissed. “It’s like being charged for a deadly traffic accident and being convicted for failing to renew your driver’s license … It is a resounding victory for Mr. Georgiou,” said his lawyer in a statement, adding that he had advised his client to appeal.

THE NETHERLANDS — JUDGE REFUSES EXTRADITION TO BELGIUM: A Dutch court refused to hand over eight suspects in a drugs case to Belgium due to concerns about the country’s prisons, described by the Council of Europe as “inhuman” and “degrading.” Volkskrant’s Leen Vervaeke reports.

ROMANIA — FOREIGN MINISTER ACCUSES MOSCOW OF DELIBERATE PROVOCATION: Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Meleșcanu said the decision by Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to board a plane to Moldova on Friday that crossed his country’s airspace was a deliberate attempt to provoke a dispute between Bucharest and Moscow.

PARTY PEOPLE — NEW LOOK FOR EUROPEAN GREENS: The Greens have a new logo and website.

NATO SCRAMBLES TO FEND OFF RUSSIAN JETS IN BALTIC: Two Russian jets came close to Estonian airspace days after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Baltic leaders in Tallinn to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to their security.

Pence ‘strongly’ backs Georgia’s NATO membership bid: “We see Georgia as a key strategic partner and stand by your territorial integrity and your aspirations to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” said Pence after talks with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

WESTERN BALKAN CORNER …

Bulgaria, Macedonia sign friendship treaty: Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov signed a friendship treaty on Tuesday after years of diplomatic tensions. Borissov vowed to back the Balkan nation’s NATO and EU ambitions.

Opinion — BIRN’s Marcus Tanner asks “Might Vučić Become Serbia’s de Gaulle on Kosovo?” in response to an op-ed by the Serbian president suggesting the country needed a new approach towards Kosovo, which many Serbs regard as their historical homeland.

TRUMP WORLD — READ TRANSCRIPT OF WSJ INTERVIEW: Trump sat down with the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker in the Oval Office on July 25. He called his son-in-law Jared Kushner a “good boy” while thanking Baker for a positive editorial about Kushner and said the leader of the Boy Scouts told him his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech ever made to them.” POLITICO obtained the transcript. Asked about a trade deal with Britain, Trump said: “We’re going to be very involved with the U.K. I mean, you don’t hear the word Britain anymore. It’s very interesting. It’s like, nope.”

TURKEY — COUP SUSPECTS ON TRIAL: Nearly 500 suspects including army generals and pilots went on trial in Turkey on Tuesday, many of them accused of commanding last year’s failed coup attempt from an air base in the capital Ankara. More from Reuters.

CHINA — NEW BASE IN DJIBOUTI: China opened its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, a major step by Beijing in expanding its military presence abroad, AFP reports.

RUSSIA — LGBT CLAMPDOWN IN CHECHNYA CONTINUES: A new report by the Russian LGBT Network based on the testimonies of 30 individuals describes the continued clampdown faced by gay men in Chechnya in the past four months. Read it here. ILGA Europe has set up a support fund.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

SUMMER READ — GENDER PAY GAP: The Economist analyzed research that shows while women are still more likely to have lower-ranking jobs at lower-end firms when they have the same responsibilities at the same company as men, they earn 99 percent of what men do in some European countries.