03-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

03-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, November 03, 2017

Regling: Aug. 2018 key for any or if further Greek debt relief needed

Greece’s official lenders will be able to determine if Greece needs further debt relief only in the summer of next year, the head of Europe’s rescue fund (ESM) said on Thursday.


Alt. FinMin Chouliarakis: We ‘consciously’ chose to heavily tax middle classes to help vulnerable groups

Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Chouliarakis’ admission, made before members of Parliament’s finance and budget committee on Wednesday, that his leftist-rightist coalition government “consciously” chose to pile on tax heavy burdens on Greece’s middle classes – after signing the third memorandum in August 2015 – generated a firestorm of reaction a day later.


Frigate dislodged after it runs aground in Saronic Gulf

Hellenic Navy cranes successfully helped to dislodge the Kanaris frigate Thursday afternoon after it ran aground earlier in the day off the coast of Atalanti, an islet in the Saronic Gulf.


Minimum bereavement pension set at 384 euros per month with 20 years of contributions

A minimum monthly payment of 384 euros with 20 years of contributions (360 euros for 15 years) is foreseen for bereavement pensions, according to a draft bill that will tabled to Parliament for a vote in the coming days.


Labor market continues to suffer

Greece still has the highest unemployment rate among OECD member-countries, as well as low salaries and therefore a large share of employees who face the risk of poverty even though they work hard, according to the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).


IEA praises Greece on energy market reforms, says more needs to be done

Greece has made significant progress in reforming its electricity and gas markets in recent years but it must step up efforts to boost competition and its use of wind and solar power generation, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.


Greek bank test results still due in May despite EBA delay, source says

The European Central Bank’s stress test of Greek banks is still expected to be completed in May despite a delay in a pan-European check, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.


ATHEX: National Bank takes bourse lower

The benchmark of the Greek bourse fell back into negative territory on Thursday as the banks index took a 2.90 percent dive.







KATHIMERINI: Confession by the government that middle income earners were targeted

ETHNOS: The regions where PASOK maintains most of its followers will be the judge of the elections for the new center-left party

TA NEA: The government imposes excessive taxation and mocks citizens

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Main opposition party New Democracy complaints about lawlessness prevailing everywhere but fails to see criminal behaviors within the party

AVGI: New Democracy gets a ‘red card’ by its own workers union

RIZOSPASTIS: Communist party union of workers calls everyone to participate in the rally scheduled for 9 November

KONTRA NEWS: [German] kickbacks were flooding Greece!

DIMOKRATIA: Pensions: 30% gift for temporary pensions

NAFTEMPORIKI: The distribution of the social dividend explained


COMMISSION — MEDIA PUSH FOR EU PROBE INTO MALTA SLAYING: Editors of the Guardian, the Financial Times, Le Monde, the New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the BBC, La Repubblica and El País wrote a letter to Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans asking for an EU investigation into the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. “[Her] murder … demonstrates the danger that journalists face in the pursuit of truth. It also demonstrates the fear that the corrupt and powerful have of being exposed,” the editors write.

‘Eyes of Europe’ on Malta: In response to the letter, Timmermans, declining to say whether he would authorize an inquiry, warned Maltese authorities that “the eyes of Europe” are watching them, insisting they “leave no stone unturned to make sure that this atrocious, barbarous assassination does not lead to the situation that the perpetrators apparently want to achieve: that no one dares ask pertinent questions and no journalist dares investigate the powers that be … We want the investigations to run their full course, so that any other related wrongdoings that may emerge can also be prosecuted and potential structural problems be resolved.”

Funeral today: Caruana Galizia’s funeral takes place today in Mosta at 2 p.m. in the presence of her family, friends and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. EU flags will fly at half mast at the Berlaymont.

COMMISSION — VESTAGER’S BRIDGET JONES MOMENT: Margrethe Vestager, everyone’s favorite no-nonsense European commissioner, cited blockbuster Bridget Jones’s Diary during a speech in London Thursday when describing her reaction to the Brexit vote in June last year. “It was kind of a Bridget Jones situation … When you are in your bed eating ice cream out of a box,” she said. “But then, literally, having slept on it, everything looks different the next morning.” As well as identifying the solution to the furor surrounding the impact of tech on modern politics as “a bigger ecosystem,” Vestager also offered her thoughts on a range of other topics (dutifully noted down by POLITICO’s Nicholas Hirst).

Should tech giants be broken up? “It’s very, very far-reaching to split up a company,” she said. “I think it is better … to say we expect behavior that allows companies to behave on the merits with and against you.”

On Ireland’s failure to collect approximately €13B in back taxes from Apple: “I respect that it is slightly more complicated to recover €13 billion than €250 million but to restore a level playing field the recovery has to take place.”

On her feelings when she sees U.S. President Donald Trump: “Do you expect me to answer that? … No, I don’t [see him much, even on Twitter]. I have detoxed. It’s working beautifully.”

On organizing her many smartphone apps: “I color organize my apps. It looks good and you can remember where they are.”

COUNCIL — LÉGLISE-COSTA CONFIRMED AS FRENCH PERM REP: Philippe Léglise-Costa, the head of France’s general secretariat for European affairs and former deputy ambassador to the EU, will replace retiring French EU Ambassador Pierre Sellal. His appointment was confirmed Thursday at a Cabinet meeting. ICYMI, POLITICO first reported it in August.

Sellal ‘one of the best’: French government spokesman Christophe Castaner told reporters President Emmanuel Macron took time to thank Sellal for his expertise and “his ability to handle all the necessary EU diplomacy to defend France’s best interest.” You can read our profile of Sellal here.

LATEST EU CONFIDENTIAL — ROLF FALTER: Episode 20 of POLITICO’s EU Confidential podcast is now available, featuring Rolf Falter, a historian who has worked across the Belgian and EU political landscapes: from adviser, to journalist, to get-out-the-vote advocate, to author of a new book on Europe. Listen now here or download this episode to listen offline via iTunes.

ESM — 5 BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACED BY MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS: Kalin Anev Janse, secretary general of the European Stability Mechanism, discusses the challenges faced by multilateral organizations in an era of de-globalization.

CLIMATE — WESTERN ALLIANCE TRIES TO SAVE CARBON MARKET REFORM: Ahead of what many hope is the final negotiating session on reforming the EU’s carbon market on November 8, an alliance of Western and Northern European countries is pushing back against the Estonian Council presidency’s attempts to accommodate Poland and other coal-reliant countries. “We are concerned that some of the proposed suggestions go in a direction that we see as problematic,” countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. wrote in a joint document, obtained by POLITICO’s Kalina Oroschakoff. Their concerns center on Poland’s idea to boost the Modernization Fund — aimed at helping Europe’s 10 poorest countries, all in Central and Eastern Europe — to upgrade their energy systems.


FRANCE — BUSINESS PREPARES FOR BREXIT WORST: Pierre Gattaz, the head of MEDEF, France’s largest business lobby, warns that French firms are preparing for a possible “catastrophic” breakdown in Brexit talks. “We are looking at the worst scenarios,” he told Nicholas Vinocur in an interview. Some 3,000 French firms currently employ nearly 400,000 people across the Channel. Even so, French business will not be pushing for a weaker approach than that currently being taken, not least on the U.K.’s exit bill. “You cannot leave an apartment and decide not to pay the rent,” said Gattaz.

A panegyric to Macron: “[German Chancellor Angela] Merkel’s government has got what it asked for. And more. Mr. Macron’s passionate Europeanism is fused with the realism that says that France must put its own economic house in order,” writes the FT’s Philip Stephens. “In Mr. Macron France has a leader with the courage to speak for a stronger Europe. He is waiting for an answer from Berlin.”


May’s failure to get a grip: In what could have been the perfect opportunity for Prime Minister Theresa May, a woman who has spent her career helping other women get into politics, to show her mettle, she appears once again to be steps behind in one of the worst scandals to rock British politics for years, writes Tom McTague.

Williamson to replace Fallon: Tory Chief Whip Gavin Williamson was appointed defense secretary Thursday following the resignation of Michael Fallon the previous night over allegations of inappropriate behavior. The Sun reported Fallon was pushed out by fellow Cabinet member Andrea Leadsom, who accused him of making lewd comments to her.


Leaders sent to prison: Spain’s High Court on Thursday granted a request by prosecutors to jail eight former members of the Catalan government without bail pending trial, prompting former First Minister Carles Puigdemont, who is currently in Brussels, to call for their “liberation” and “an end to the political repression” in a video statement. He faces the threat of a European arrest warrant, which, if issued, would mean Belgian police arresting him and extraditing him to Spain within two months.

Patronizing Anglo-Americans: José Ignacio Torreblanca writes for El País about “the insufferable sentiment of Anglo-American superiority” since the Catalan referendum last month. “The worst part of all of this is the condescending tone with which they orate on our ‘young’ democracy, its supposed problems assimilating Francoism and, once again, the racist insistence on the temperamental character of the Spanish.”

The Scottish nationalists’ Catalan dilemma: An independent Scotland would need Spain’s support to join the EU. Knowing that leaves Scottish independence supporters torn between their hearts (with Catalans) and their heads (with Madrid), reports Peter Geoghegan.


Italy: For a sneak preview of what to expect from next year’s Italian election, look no further than Sicily, an island with a degree of autonomy from Rome currently governed by center-left parties, but likely to swing to the populist right when its 5 million voters go to the polls Sunday. Stefania D’Ignoti reports for POLITICO.

Slovakia: Regional elections take place Saturday across Slovakia, with SME.sk profiling the candidates running for the governorship of Bratislava here. One fight to watch is in the region of Banská Bystrica, whose incumbent far-right Governor Marian Kotleba faces a challenge from businessman Ján Lunter. h/t Martin Dubéci

GERMANY — GREENS SLAM LIBERAL LEADER OVER REFUGEE COMMENTS: The German Greens fired back at Christian Lindner’s Free Democrats over the parties’ disagreement on migration, accusing him of peddling “populist platitudes” and obstructing coalition talks. Simone Peter, co-chair of the Greens, told Berliner Zeitung that negotiations among the four potential coalition partners can’t “seriously move forward” amid Lindner’s comments on migration and refugees.

Steinmeier visits Australia: President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who arrives in Perth today for his first visit to Australia, said a reason for the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party was “the increased number of refugees,” adding that Germany needs “a new consensus in society about how much and what type of immigration we want.”

HUNGARY — ORBÁN, BLESSED BY GOD: At an event celebrating 500 years since the Reformation in Budapest, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made clear the Christian complexion of his government. “We profess and undertake that Hungary, after the governance of anti-Christian and internationalist forces, needs the governance of forces seeking to follow Christian values,” he said. “We consider ourselves privileged that providence uses our government as a tool in this rejuvenation.” New polls show his Fidesz party is at highs not seen since 2011, with polls showing support of up to 40 percent.

DENMARK — DANSKE BANK CEO UNDER FIRE: Internal documents leaked to Danish newspaper Berlingske indicate Danske Bank knew as far back as 2012 about illegal activity taking place in its Estonian branch, which was subsequently shut down. Jeppe Kofod, a Danish Socialist MEP and lead on European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry committee, slammed the bank, saying: “This is one of the most serious cases and one of the most damning documents I have seen so far. It’s high time the CEO of Danske Bank answered, in public, to these revelations and I believe he should do so at our PANA committee hearing on November 28.”

SERBIA — FOREIGN MINISTER RULES OUT PICKING SIDES: Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said his country should not be forced to pick between Russia and the West. “What we do not want is that someone pulls our own chair from under us … what is important is to see what is in our own best interest,” Dačić told Reuters.


TURKEY — SCHRÖDER’S VISIT NOT CAUSE OF ACTIVIST RELEASE: Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this week, but was not behind the release of a German human rights activist, according to a government spokesman.



The gloves are off for Donna Brazile: The former interim chair of the U.S. Democratic National Committee writes for POLITICO Magazine an account of how the party was trapped by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election campaign.

Trump’s Twitter goes dark: A customer support employee working their last day at Twitter deliberately took down Trump’s account for around 11 minutes overnight.

No vote of confidence for Tillerson: Trump declined on Thursday to give a full-throated endorsement of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying that “we’ll see” if he will serve out his term with the president.


NO ENTRY: The municipalities of Brussels and Molenbeek have forbidden Flemish far-right groups and Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders from organizing “a safari of Islam” this weekend. Le Soir has more here.