04-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

04-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, December 04, 2017

Greek FinMin: Staff level agreement with creditors achieved; next step is Eurogroup

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Saturday evening announced that a staff level agreement had been achieved with creditors’ representatives in Athens, a development that is expected to lead to a rapid conclusion of the third review of the Greek program.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1300924/greek-finmin-staff-level-agreement-with-creditors-achieved-next-step-is-eurogroup

ND leader vows to keep relatives out of government

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has pledged, in an interview with Kathimerini on Sunday, that he would appoint no relatives to his cabinet or to key state positions in the event that the conservatives come to power.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223818/article/ekathimerini/news/nd-leader-vows-to-keep-relatives-out-of-government

Erdogan in Greece this month

Turkey President Tayyip Recep Erdogan will visit Greece on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, following an invitation by his Greek counterpart, the first such visit by a standing Turkish head of state since the early 1950s.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1300717/erdogan-in-greece-this-month

Center-left reveals members of top decision-making body

Greece’s new center-left grouping, Movement for Change, has unveiled its political council, which is the first element of the new party’s structure and its key decision-making body.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223799/article/ekathimerini/news/center-left-reveals-members-of-top-decision-making-body

Islanders to descend on Athens over refugee crisis

Protesters will converge outside the Immigration Policy Ministry on Tuesday to demand immediate relief for the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Lesvos and Chios, where facilities for migrants and refugees are overflowing with thousands of stranded asylum seekers.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223803/article/ekathimerini/news/islanders-to-descend-on-athens-over-refugee-crisis

Taxes make savings impossible, IOBE study shows

The financial state of Greek households deteriorated further in November, with few managing to save any money, according to the latest business and consumer survey by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) published on Friday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223805/article/ekathimerini/business/taxes-make-savings-impossible-iobe-study-shows

Chinese interest in port of Elefsina

After Cosco’s much publicized investment in Piraeus, China’s macroeconomic management agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is promoting new investments in western Attica, primarily in the port of Elefsina.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223812/article/ekathimerini/business/chinese-interest-in-port-of-elefsina

ATHEX: Benchmark grows for a seventh day

The seventh consecutive session of gains for the benchmark of the Greek stock market on Friday confirmed the positive momentum as it was in the latter half of the day that buyers made their presence felt, boosting banks by another 4.75 percent.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223804/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-benchmark-grows-for-a-seventh-day

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: Interview with New democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis: None of my relatives will enter a future New Democracy government

TO VIMA: Trace of Greek arms in Raqqa

REAL NEWS: The Memorandum will just not die!

PROTO THEMA: Terror over [indebted] households due to the opening of auctions

AVGI: Rupture for an ever-lasting anachronism. Bill allows minority Muslims of Thrace to address civil courts instead of the local religious leader

RIZOSPASTIS: The “next day” demands organization and struggle instead of waiting

MONDAY PAPERS

ETHNOS: Nearer to the end of the Memorandum era

TA NEA: The government sacrificed the Greek people in order to reach an agreement with the lenders and remain in power

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The pros and cons of the fastest deal yet between Athens and its creditors

KONTRA NEWS: New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is kicking out his sister Dora and her son!

DIMOKRATIA: The busted myth of the Polytechnic School revolt against the Greek junta in ‘73 shames the Greek Left

NAFTEMPORIKI: The next day of the agreement

Today is leaders’ day in the Brexit negotiations. If politics weren’t already driving the process, they certainly are now. The Irish Cabinet meets this morning in a special Brexit session, followed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with MEPs at 11 a.m. Juncker then lunches with Theresa May at 1:15 p.m., before the British PM goes off to meet European Council President Donald Tusk.

The day won’t start on a positive note for May. There is no apparent solution to the Irish border issue and one of her Cabinet ministers, Jeremy Hunt, went as far Sunday as to warn there could be no Brexit if Euroskeptics in the U.K. Cabinet don’t support May to cut a pragmatic deal this week.

The Daily Telegraph reports May could ask for a 24-hour extension of the EU deadline for presenting her best concrete offer for unlocking EU-U.K. trade talks today.

The European Commission will formally adopt its position ahead of the EU leaders’ summit Wednesday morning.

What needs to happen Monday for Britain to get a deal: Tom McTague, David M. Herszenhorn and Jacopo Barigazzi outline everything you need to know about the path to progress (or not).

Don’t mention the deadline! British diplomats emailed journalists at 12:31 a.m. to say: “With plenty of discussions still to go, Monday will be an important staging post.”

Where do the players stand? The EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier is the closest the EU has to a dove. According to Playbook’s sources, it is Juncker, his chief of staff Martin Selmayr and MEPs who are more likely to let the U.K. sweat into 2018 if there are no further concessions.

What happens if this falls apart? Multinational businesses will start to lock in their 2018 and 2019 investment decisions, possibly in ways unhelpful to U.K. interests. It would take either a special summit or until the next scheduled summit in March for trade talks to be approved — just 12 months before the U.K. leaves the EU. The reputations of Barnier and U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis would also suffer as they wouldn’t look as though they can strike deals.

The ball is in Dublin’s court: “If the U.K. offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU,” said Donald Tusk during a press conference Friday. An EU diplomat told Tom, David and Jacopo: “We’ve got four to five points still open, which all seem doable among rational people. Question is whether the British chief negotiator has the political mandate to agree.”

Like clockwork: Alex Barker for the FT writes about EU negotiating techniques: “Europe’s approach has what one senior EU diplomat calls a ‘mechanical’ quality. Rather than a fluid exchange between equal parties, it approaches talks as more like a process where the weaker country eventually adapts.”

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

EUROZONE THE SECOND THEME OF THE WEEK …

EUROGROUP ELECTION: The next head of the Eurogroup will be chosen today, with the finance ministers of Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovakia vying for the hugely influential position within the 19 eurozone countries. Portugal’s Mário Centeno, a socialist, and Luxembourg’s Pierre Gramegna, a liberal, have the best chances. POLITICO’s Bjarke Smith-Meyer asked the top candidates about their policy positions in this Q&A for POLITICO Pro Financial Services subscribers.

LEAKED COMMISSION EUROZONE REFORMS: Libération’s Jean Quatremer reports on a copy of a package of six interlinked eurozone reform proposals due to be debated by European commissioners Wednesday. Quatremer concludes: “Far from following in the footsteps of Emmanuel Macron, who wants a eurozone that is more … democratic, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, is the mouthpiece of the Euroskeptic wing of the CDU [Angela Merkel’s conservatives].”

The leaked proposal does not rule out a eurozone budget (which the French president backs), but it does suggest the budget would only apply after structural reforms are agreed to. If correct and up to date, this leak of the Commission’s internal thinking indicates Juncker and his chief lieutenant Martin Selmayr are aligning with the German version of eurozone reform and distancing themselves from the European Parliament’s views.

OPINION — Why Europe doesn’t need a finance minister: Guntram Wolff writes for POLITICO that Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan will never work. “If the position is created, the only result will be disappointment. Some will hope that a European finance minister will be a strict budget enforcer, finally bringing fiscal discipline to the bloc. Others will look forward to tapping the new EU fiscal resources. In reality, Juncker’s finance minister will have the power to do neither … A better option would be to reform Eurogroup.”

COUNCIL — TUSK ON THE MONEY: Donald Tusk meets four financial bigwigs in separate meetings today: outgoing Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi, President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer and Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism Klaus Regling. He’ll also squeeze in Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama at 6 p.m.

Other top meetings and visits: Vice President Jyrki Katainen meets Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defense minister; Commissioner Johannes Hahn is in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Commissioner Phil Hogan is in Dublin, where he’ll meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Commissioner Vĕra Jourová is in the Czech Republic to meet Andrej Babiš.

COUNCIL — EU-CANADA GET-TOGETHER: High Representative Federica Mogherini will chair the first ministerial meeting with Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, since the EU-Canada trade deal came into force.

COUNCIL — VIKTOR ORBÁN’S NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Lili Bayer reports on the Hungarian prime minister’s efforts to cultivate new political friends in Germany, sidestepping the chancellor and instead cozying up to regional leaders.

REX TILLERSON IN BRUSSELS: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is conducting a tour of Brussels, Vienna and Paris from today until December 8. He first meets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, then attends the December 5-6 NATO foreign ministers’ meeting and joins the informal EU foreign affairs council December 5. While in Brussels, he will also meet senior Belgian officials as well as his EU counterpart Federica Mogherini.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs ON MISSION TO WASHINGTON: The 81st EU-U.S. inter-parliamentary meeting is taking place in Washington D.C. today. The European Parliament delegation, composed of 15 MEPs from six political groups, is led by Christian Ehler (EPP). Members will hold a joint session with the House ways and means committee on trade and tax issues and meet several senators and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

PARTY PEOPLE — SOCIALISTS COMMIT TO SPITZENKANDIDAT PROCESS: Europe’s main center-left political party reaffirmed its commitment to selecting a “lead candidate” for Commission president in the 2019 European election, via a primary voting system at its convention in Lisbon.

PARTY PEOPLE — RUTTE SHOCKS LIBERALS WITH COLD EU SPEECH: Many of Mark Rutte’s liberal ALDE party colleagues suspect the Dutch prime minister would like to be president of the European Council in 2019. Even more of them would like Emmanuel Macron to join their party. So they were surprised to hear Rutte directly challenge Macron’s ideas at the party’s annual conference in Amsterdam. Maïa de la Baume reports.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs SEE RULE-OF-LAW THREAT IN MALTA: MEPs concluded a two-day visit to Malta on Friday with delegation leader Ana Gomes, a Socialist, saying “We are worried about the low number of cases that are being prosecuted in the area of financial crimes. This impunity cannot continue.”

OECD — PERU VS. PERU: A new report written by a former top OECD economist slams Peru’s membership bid for the organization, claiming the country can’t be trusted to pay its debt or uphold rule of law, citing several presidents currently behind bars. The twist: It was commissioned by Peruvians. Lima is competing with Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in Europe, and Argentina and Brazil in Latin America, for OECD membership. El Pais | Cover letter | Report

TOP READ — THE MALE MINORITY: “There are not many people here who look like me,” he said. “Welcome to my world,” she replied. The New York Times’ Katrin Bennhold takes you inside last week’s Women Political Leaders’ summit in the “tiny gender utopia” of Iceland, through the eyes of Xavier Prats Monné, European Commission director-general for health and food safety. It’s interesting from the start, when Prats Monné — a self-described feminist who arrived trained to avoid mansplaining — can’t bring himself to let a female driver handle his luggage.

DIGITAL POLITICS

MASS TRANSIT — UBER JOINS PUBLIC TRANSPORT ALLIANCE: The taxi app has signed up to the International Association of Public Transport, the Brussels-based association of global mass transit system operators. It’s a sign of Uber’s new willingness to engage with the very organizations it used to merely disrupt. The company hasn’t had the easiest time in London, where transport authority TfL opted not to renew its license in September; Uber’s appeal is ongoing.

UK NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY CENTER WARNS SPY AGENCY NOT TO USE KASPERSKY SOFTWARE.

EU NATIONAL NEWS

POLAND — APP TO ‘PROTECT POLAND’S GOOD NAME’: The foreign ministry is helping pay for an app designed to “protect Poland’s good name” abroad. it’s supposed to flag “lies” about Poland.

SPAIN — PUIGDEMONT STAYS PUT IN BELGIUM: Catalonia’s former president, Carles Puigdemont, will remain in Belgium until after the Catalan parliamentary election on December 21, his lawyer told AFP Saturday.

BREXIT 360°

Tony Blair confirms he is working to reverse Brexit.

Half of Britons support a second Brexit vote.

Redrawing the Brexit map: Matthew Goodwin take a futuristic look at what Britain’s politics could look like after Brexit. “Across the country, old rules are overturned. The Tories run riot through a large swathe of Labour territory in northern England and Wales, where they were once a toxic brand … the Labour benches are unrecognizable.”

Citizens’ rights groups warn leaders against unlocking ‘sufficient progress’: British in Europe (BiE) and the3million, the two most prominent groups claiming to represent the interests of the 4.5 million EU citizens living in another EU country, say the U.K.’s current offers on the table do not allow those millions of people to carry on their lives as normal after Brexit.

Jane Golding, chairwoman of British in Europe, said: “What’s on the table at the moment is not enough.” The groups care most about preserving freedom of movement. On the settled status of EU nationals in the U.K., Nicolas Hatton, chairman of the3million said: “If I — or any other EU citizen — apply for settled status after Brexit day and the Home Office erroneously declines our applications and decides to deport us, we will have no option but to leave and appeal from our country of origin.” Hatton said the U.K. Home Office is already deporting EU citizens at a rate of more than 10,000 per year.

BEYOND EU

ICELAND — MEET THE NEW PRIME MINISTER.

FYROM — OPPOSITION LEADER TO RESIGN: Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said he would step down as leader of the right-wing opposition party VMRO-DPMNE after losing local elections earlier this year. Balkan Insight has more.