04-07-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 04-07-2017

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sharp exchanges in Parliament over ‘drug ship’ probe. charges and counter-charges

Another off-the-agenda Parliament debate in Athens on Monday at the political party leaders’ level, ostensibly on the course of the Greek economy, quickly degenerated into a “free-for-all” of charges, counter-charges and back-and-forth barbs on a variety of high-profile instances dealing with controversial Defense Minister Panos Kammenos – the leader of the junior coalition partner in the current government.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1254355/sharp-exchanges-in-parliament-over-drug-ship-probe-charges-and-counter-charges

Convict says he will leak more calls by defense minister

A Piraeus court on Monday rejected an appeal for early release by Makis Yiannousakis – serving a life sentence for his involvement in a huge shipment of heroin intercepted in Greece in 2014 – on the grounds that his life is at risk, as two attempts have already been made against him in prison.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219769/article/ekathimerini/news/convict-says-he-will-leak-more-calls-by-defense-minister

Warning shot fired over Turkish freighter that skirted inspection; Ankara reaction

Ankara on Monday sharply condemned an incident earlier in the day when a Greek coast guard patrol boat fired a warning shot over a Turkish-flagged freighter off the Dodecanese island of Rhodes.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1254438/warning-shot-fired-over-turkish-freighter-that-skirted-inspection-ankara-reaction

Supreme Court overturns 2013 ruling on Sorras

Greece’s Supreme Court has overturned a 2013 ruling by an Athens misdemeanor court stating that Artemis Sorras was authorized to manage an amount that came to $600 billion, which had acquitted him on charges of disseminating false information.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219767/article/ekathimerini/news/supreme-court-overturns-2013-ruling-on-sorras

Economic sentiment posts only minor improvement

Business and consumer expectations have not improved as much as anticipated following the conclusion of the second bailout review, according to a monthly survey by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), whose results were released on Monday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219781/article/ekathimerini/business/economic-sentiment-posts-only-minor-improvement

Greek factory activity returns to growth in June after 9-month contraction

Greek manufacturing activity expanded in June for the first time in nine months, with increased production and new orders leading firms to add jobs at the fastest pace since July 2016, a survey showed on Monday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219751/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-factory-activity-returns-to-growth-in-june-after-9-month-contraction

ATHEX: Mid-caps steal show as index keeps rising

Mid-caps headlined Monday’s bourse session at Athinon Avenue as the normally less popular part of the market is offering major opportunities to the discerning eye now that uncertainty regarding ther Greek economy has diminished after the agreement with the country’s creditors. This has taken the benchmark of the market to a new 25-month high.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219775/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-mid-caps-steal-show-as-index-keeps-rising

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KATHIMERINI: After the contract workers blocked the garbage collection other contract workers now block the Festival of Athens

TA NEA: Lost in space: Tsipras follows the lead of Kammenos-Polakis

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: It took him too long but he finally learned what Golden Dawn is all about! Leader of New Democrach acknowledges Golden Dawn as “Neo-Nazi formation”

AVGI: New Democracy leaders is a clumsy extreme-rightist

RIZOSPASTIS: The government issues bouncing cheques

KONTRA NEWS: Brother of former PM Simitis responds about the transaction of 1,5 million Euros

DIMOKRATIA: Chaos regarding the tax declarations of farmers

NAFTEMPORIKI: The hydrocarbon market opens

ECB LENDS TO A WHO’S WHO OF CORPORATE EUROPE: The European Central Bank, under pressure from MEPs, has published a list of its holdings as part of its “corporate sector purchase program.” The program, started in 2016, involves the ECB lending to non-bank companies by buying corporate bonds from them. The purpose is for the ECB to take a risk banks have been unwilling to take, but the list of participants shows that those who have reaped the benefits are Europe’s biggest companies, from beer to oil to handbag producers.

ECB’s multinational A-list customers: The beneficiaries of the ECB policy include German chemical giant BASF; electricity firms EDF, Engie, Enel, E.ON and Iberdrola; Airbus Group and Ryanair; telecoms companies Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Telecom Italia and KPN; oil and gas companies Shell, ENI, Total and Repsol; car companies Volkswagen and Renault; French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi; giant brewers Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken; conglomerates Unilever, Siemens and LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton); software and service provider SAP.

THE POST-BREXIT, UK-LED EU BATTLEGROUP: The U.K. is due to provide most of the 1,500 soldiers for the July 2019 rotation of a new EU rapid-reaction military unit — just months after it is due to formally leave the bloc. Tom McTague and Nicholas Vinocur report that although it has decided to leave the EU, Britain wants to remain an influential player in European security, and has made no decision yet about its role as lead nation in the battlegroup in 2019.

G20 — SHERPAS MEET TODAY; JUNCKER-TUSK JOINT LETTER DUE: Policy sherpas will sit down in Hamburg today to hammer out a draft communiqué for the summit. They’ll need to show skill and flexibility given Trump’s tendency to refuse preparation, instruction or collegiality. EU diplomats expect the difficult issues to be climate, trade, and steel and aluminium “overcapacities.”

Saudi Arabia’s 81-year old leader King Salman bin Abdulaziz will skip the summit. Meanwhile, German police found a large stash of weapons they believe to be linked to a plot to commit “significant crimes” at the summit. 

COMMISSION — GREECE’S COSTLY DRUG HABIT: Greece is full of powerful vested pharmaceutical interests that keep the cash-strapped country wedded to branded drugs when generic medicines would do just fine. After seven years of efforts, reforms to shake up how doctors, pharmacies and supermarkets deal with drugs have gone unimplemented, and the bills are piling up. Carmen Paun has more on the reforms the European Commission wants Greece to undertake to gets its people and economy on the road to recovery.

COMMISSION — POLITICAL COUNTDOWN ON EU-JAPAN TRADE DEAL: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Agriculture Minister Yuji Yamamoto are expected to land in Brussels today to continue talks on the trade deal. Japan remains cautious: “The [EU] demands [on dairy] are harsh. They are not yet at a level Japan can accept,” Yamamoto is quoted as saying. We should know more tonight about whether Thursday’s EU-Japan summit will go ahead.

COMMISSION — LABSOLUTELY FAPPULOUS! No, Playbook, didn’t fall asleep at the keyboard — we’re reporting the Commission’s latest effort to connect with the cool kids. A high-level, Commission-backed report titled “LAB-FAB-APP” recommends doubling the EU research budget post-2020 from €80 billion to €160 billion, even though the EU’s overall budget will be shrinking because of Brexit. Lab is short for “laboratory,” Fab stands for “competitive fabrication” and App is for “applications for the benefit of all.”

The report recommends allowing the U.K. to continue participating in the EU research family after Brexit, and was written by Pascal Lamy, the former World Trade Organization chief, European commissioner, and European Commission president chief-of-staff. “Doubling the overall budget of the post-2020 EU research and innovation program is the best investment the EU can make,” according to the report.

COMMISSION — COLLEGE OF COMMISSIONERS: European Commissioners meet in Strasbourg to present support measures to help Italy tackle recent migration flows, ahead of the EU ministers for home affairs meeting in Tallinn later this week. “The problem is not a new one, the solutions are not new,” said Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud: “What we need is to step on the gas.” Commissioners will also tackle the arbitration dispute between Slovenia and Croatia. Frans Timmermans, the Commission first vice-president, will brief his colleagues on U.N. talks on Cyprus reunification.

PARLIAMENT SET TO CRACK DOWN ON ROGUE MEP TRIPS: David McAllister, Angela Merkel’s man in the European Parliament, says there is insufficient control of unofficial MEP visits to places that are politically sensitive — such as Syria, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Balkan countries — and worries about a lack of transparency and loss of control over the institution’s message. Maïa de La Baume has the full story.

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT…

Malta presidency: MEPs will review progress made under the Maltese presidency of the Council of the EU in the presence of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Commissioner-designate Gabriel vote: MEPs will vote on whether to approve Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) as the new European digital Commissioner. She should be approved by a comfortable margin. Here’s what you need to know: a profile and a flashback to her parliamentary hearing.

Neighborhood/enlargement: MEPs will vote to give their consent to a new agreement allowing Kosovo to participate in EU policies. They’ll also vote on a draft law allowing €100 million of EU funds to be given to Moldova.

Budget: MEPs will debate the Commission’s long-term budget reflection paper, as well as Parliament’s 2018 budget position, ahead of discussions with national government after the summer break.

Cuba: MEPs will discuss a resolution giving consent to a new political agreement between the EU and Cuba.

MIGRATION — INSIDE LIBYA’S MIGRANT TRADE: “They flogged me, they slapped me, they beat me while I was on the phone with my mother so she could hear me cry,” said a 25-year-old from Sierra Leone, recounting his time in southern Libya. The biggest jumping-off point for migrants trying to reach Europe is now home to a thriving trade in humans, raising questions of European agreements to pay the North African country to stem the flow, Sudarsan Raghavan reports for the Washington Post.

TECH MEETS POLITICS — SILICON VALLEY, THE NEW WALL STREET: “Silicon Valley remains in a cognitive bubble, reluctant to engage with legitimate public worries over monopoly, privacy and tech-related job disruption, not to mention its own culture,” writes Rana Foroohar for the FT’s opinion pages.

POLAND — TRUMP’S POLISH WELCOME PARTY: Warsaw has high hopes for the U.S. president’s visit, writes Michał Broniatowski from Warsaw.

FRANCE — MAN ARRESTED OVER MACRON ASSASSINATION PLOT: French police said the man had planned to kill the French president on Bastille Day, July 14, during a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump.

FRANCE — STARTLING STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH: Emmanuel Macron lacked fire in his first “state of the union” à la française, which turned out to be more recitation than inspiration. In a 90-minute address, Macron discussed constitutional reforms such as term limits for members of parliament, reducing the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly and the Senate by a third, and introducing some degree of proportional representation in parliamentary elections.

Pierre Briançon wasn’t impressed: “Gone was the fire of the campaign, and the president read his speech in a monotone voice that prompted a Twitter user to dub him ‘Roi Sommeil’ or sleep king.”

Macron’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, is scheduled to address the National Assembly today.

BELGIUM — THE HIGH PRICE OF POLITICAL CONFIDANTS: The collapse of the majority government in the Wallonia-Brussels federation could lead to the sacking of 200 political staffers from Belgium’s francophone Socialist Party if the party is kicked out of the regional government, Le Soir reported. That would cost taxpayers €3.25 million (an average of about €16,000 per staffer) in severance pay. The most extraordinary figure is the not the overall cost but the fact that the ministers set to lose their jobs employed 200 people between them. By comparison, U.K. ministers (aside from the prime minister and chancellor) usually have two political staffers each, and European Commissioners an average of seven.

WHAT SLOVENES ARE TALKING ABOUT — A MERKEL ZOMBIE REFUGEE PARODY: The YouTube video shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel — played by Slovenian comic Klemen Slakonja — dancing with the German national soccer team and ‘refugees’ made up as zombies. “Refugees coming to Europe … don’t have the opportunities that they should get, so they are like the living dead here,” Slakonja told Reuters.

GERMANY ELECTION CORNER …

MERKEL’S MANIFESTO WRAP: The Chancellor promised tax cuts of €15 billion or more, a halving of unemployment levels by 2025 and no new public debt as her party presented its election manifesto on Monday.

WASHINGTON NO LONGER A ‘FRIEND’ OF GERMANY’S RULING PARTY: Merkel’s conservatives omitted the word when describing the German-U.S. relationship.

BREXIT CORNER …

BARNIER SAYS NO TO UK FINANCIAL GEEKS: EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has asked for British experts working on loan from the U.K. government inside the Commission’s financial services department to be quarantined from sensitive Brexit-related files. The policy does not extend to experts working in other directorates of the Commission, though Boris Johnson’s move to defund most of the U.K.’s secondment positions makes it a moot point. More here.

UNITED STATES — JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY CONSIDERING RETIREMENT IN 2018: Aaron Blake looks at hints left by the man considered to be Supreme Court’s moderately conservative swing vote.

ECFR CLARIFICATION: In noting the ECFR shifting its center of gravity away from London to other European offices, Playbook (and a tweet by Carl Bildt) left some readers under the impression that the think tank was leaving London for good. ECFR’s Mark Leonard confirmed to Playbook: “We will keep a decent-sized office here (London) and a lot of senior staff.”

BRUSSELS CORNER …

CLEAN AIR: Following the VW diesel scandal, a number of European cities are looking to accelerate efforts to clean up their air. IDA Group is hosting a lunch briefing on clean air measures today, featuring speakers from the City of London and Berlin. Details here.

ELECTED: Kjersti Kleven, the co-owner of Kleven, Norway’s biggest private shipyard group, is the new chair of the European shipyard association SEA Europe.

APPOINTED: Jacques Delors Institute has appointed Sébastien Maillard as its new director starting in September 2017. Maillard is a journalist at La Croix, including a previous stint as its Brussels correspondent, and the author of “Qu’avons-nous fait de l’Europe?” (What have we done with Europe?)

LEAVING: European Commissioner cabinet stalwart Edward Bannerman, now with Vice President Jyrki Katainen, will take up a new role as chief of staff to President of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Suma Chakrabarti.