02-08-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

2-08-2018 | EYE ON GREECE |

Thursday, August 2, 2018

German Parliament approves last loan installment to Greece

The German Parliament’s budget committee rubber-stamped on Wednesday the disbursement of the last loan installment of Greece’s adjustment program, totalling 15 billion euros.


Brussels defends debt relief

The European Commission on Wednesday defended the Greek debt relief measures that the Eurogroup decided in June, in a manner of response to the International Monetary Fund, which had deemed the debt easing inadequate to render the debt sustainable in the long term.


Eighty-five wildfire victims identified, one unaccounted for

Greece’s fire service said on Wednesday it had identified 85 victims of the wildfire that ravaged the east coast of Attica last week, which left one person still unaccounted for.


Greek govt promises demolition of thousands of illegally built structures, in wake of deadly wildfire

The Greek government on Wednesday, still reeling from the fallout of more than 90 fatalities due to last week’s wildfire in eastern Attica prefecture, promised to demolish at least 3,150 illegally built structures – mostly holiday homes – around the greater Athens area.


Japan Tobacco confirms SEKAP will continue to operate

The operation of Greek tobacco company SEKAP will continue following the definitive agreement for the acquisition of parent company Donskoy Tabak by Japan Tobacco International (JTI).


Greek banks agree loan-servicing deal with Italy-based doBank

The top four Greek banks agreed to have Italy’s doBank manage a combined 1.8 billion euros worth of their non-performing credit, the banks said on Wednesday.


ATHEX: Trading volume sinks to 16 mln euros

August dawned on the Greek bourse with a return to poor trading volume on Wednesday. Still, the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark ended in the black after earlier losses were offset during the closing auctions.







KATHIMERINI:  The radio discussions of the Greek Police depicts the panic [during the wildfires]

ETHNOS:  Illegal constructions to be demolished

TA NEA:  Limitless hypocrisy on behalf of the government [regarding the handling of the wildfires in Attica]

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON:  Immediate demolition of Illegal constructions

AVGI:  Rules are going to be established [regarding illegal constructions]

RIZOSPASTIS:  The amendments regarding compensations and illegal constructions are a decoy

KONTRA NEWS:  Illegal constructions to be demolished as of Monday

DIMOKRATIA:  Thrace stabbed for a handful of votes

NAFTEMPORIKI:  Red loans worth 30 billion Euros to be restructured

GOOD MORNING. First, we’ll boil down the day to the top three things you’ll need to know. Further down, we have more reading tips, from the newsroom this time. Enjoy your summer!

1. MAGIC BEANS: Just a few days after Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Trump agreed in Washington on a joint statement that averted a fully-fledged trade war, the EU now has data to show it is a TERRIFIC deal. Soy bean imports from the U.S. are up by 283 percent since last July, according to Commission numbers. What’s more, over the past five weeks, 37 percent of the EU’s soy bean imports came from the U.S., up from 9 percent a year before.

Soy bean business: The plain truth about American soy beans: they’re super cheap at the moment. Or, in the Commission’s more diplomatic words, they’re “currently the most competitive on the market.” The art of the deal extends to post-handshake customer service, too. Now we await the news on liquified natural gas. Will Juncker magic strike again?

Juncker on his art of the deal: “I have a long political experience. I can handle people and I like people — including Mr. Trump, even though he might be a little bit difficult. Experience is important,” he told Luxembourg’s RTL in an interview that aired Wednesday evening. Could a single tweet undo the friendship? “I do not constantly read Mr. Trump’s tweets,” Juncker said. “But this time I did and I saw that he sent seven, eight, nine, 10 love declarations in my direction.”

Big but: Trump’s global trade war is far from over. He actually escalated it while you were sleeping: The U.S. announced it could hit $200 billion worth of Chinese industrial and consumer goods with a 25 percent tariff, up significantly from the 10 percent duty it initially proposed. Doug Palmer reports from Washington.

2. THE CHARLES MICHEL TAX ON JOURNALISM: The European Council couldn’t be bothered to publicly object to Belgian plans to charge journalists — as well as external cleaning or canteen staff — who reside in the country €100 per year to access EU summits. The Commission, however, could: “We believe journalists should be doing their jobs in the best conditions possible,” said spokeswoman Mina Andreeva, adding that the Commission “doesn’t like” the Belgian fee (and would not introduce fees for covering any of its own events).

A complaint, anyone? Andreeva also said the Commission would examine any complaint filed on the subject. We predict there’s going to be a lot to examine. Here’s the link to the Commission’s standard complaints form to report an alleged breach of Union law by an EU country. To give you an idea of what to write: Belgian journalists’ association AGJBP said that having to pay the government to be allowed to do one’s job “constitutes an obstacle to the freedom of information” and might also be a matter of indirect discrimination (as occasional visitors would get a waiver for the fee).

Belgium’s pride is double-fried in beef tallow. The country was busy Wednesday bickering with France about who invented fries. The answer is long known. And herewith on to the drought, which is said to have already harmed both the length and price of Belgian fries.

3. DROUGHT RELIEF: The Commission will offer farmers help today, EU officials told Playbook. Expect two specific new measures to be announced.

— Early relief: Farmers will be able to receive a higher share of their expected payments for the year from the EU budget by October (instead of December) to cover material damage and income losses due to the droughts. They can expect up to get 70 percent of direct subsidies and 85 percent of payments for rural development early.

— Exceptions: Farmers will get derogations from certain EU agriculture rules — namely they’ll be allowed to use land lying fallow to produce fodder for their animals.

Under existing common EU rules, countries’ governments can provide state aid to farmers to cover up to 90 percent of the damage caused by drought (and the need to buy fodder qualifies as either damage or income loss). Some limited emergency aid can also be granted by governments without needing to notify the Commission. Take note, EU countries.

Berlin calling: German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, from the CDU,  joined the choir of those calling on the Commission to offer “unbureaucratic assistance” to farmers struggling with the drought in a letter to Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. She stressed that under German law and rules and bureaucracy, the government has only limited options to help farmers, and only when there is a loss of more than 30 percent in average annual yield.

Please act, as we ourselves need to wait: Berlin needs to wait for an official harvest report at the end of August. “A harvest cannot be evaluated before it is completely harvested,” Klöckner said. In the end, you can’t expect European farmers to make a living off EU subsidies in good or only normal times, and be entrepreneurs when it doesn’t rain.


NOT HAPPY: Russia reacted furiously to new EU sanctions imposed on companies involved in constructing the Kerch bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimea peninsula, after the Council added six Russian companies to its sanctions list, David Herszenhorn reports.

CAN TEAM OBAMA HELP SAVE EUROPE? Zachary Young spoke with alumni of Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns to find out how his playbook could be applied to the European election.

WHERE EUROPE’S MIGRANTS ARE: Hanne Cokelaere has some brilliant infographics to give you the full migration picture.

COME FOR THE PICS, STAY FOR THE STORY: Jillian Deutsch and Ginger Hervey have this great story about how Brussels plans to make its mark on the world of tattoos.