05-02-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

05-02-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, February 05, 2018

Organizers point to utterly successful ‘name issue’ rally; govt, FM says they’re unfazed

Α massive, even by memorandum-era standards, rally was held in central Athens early Sunday afternoon to demand a hard-line stance by the Greek government in resurgent UN-mediated negotiations over the fYRoM “name issue”, namely, no compromise solution that includes the term “Macedonia” in a neighboring country’s name.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1317917/organizers-point-to-utterly-successful-name-issue-rally-govt-fm-says-theyre-unfazed

Albanian PM insists Cham claims must be put on the table

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said that the issue of Cham rights remains one of the thorniest problems in talks between Athens and Tirana.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225462/article/ekathimerini/news/albanian-pm-insists-cham-claims-must-be-put-on-the-table

Settlement platform opens for social security debts

The online platform for the settlement of social security debts up to 50,000 euros opens on Monday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225481/article/ekathimerini/business/settlement-platform-opens-for-social-security-debts 

Salary cuts not enough to make Greek firms more competitive

The collapse of domestic demand during the financial crisis forced many Greek enterprises to turn to foreign markets in order to survive. Many have done so successfully, which was quite a feat given the conditions in Greece, where corporate competitiveness has been seriously compromised.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225506/article/ekathimerini/business/salary-cuts-not-enough-to-make-greek-firms-more-competitive

OECD: Greeks first among 35 surveyed countries for average number of hours worked each year

Greece remains first among European countries on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) list of work hours – per year – put in by residents in each country, with an employed person in the country working 2,035 hours, on average.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1317612/oecd-greeks-first-among-35-surveyed-countries-for-average-number-of-hours-worked-each-year

Greece Manufacturing PMI for Jan. 2018 continues upward trend

The IHS Markit Greece Manufacturing PMI reached 55.2 in January 2018, up from 53.1 in December, as the 50-point threshold separating growth from recession.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1317619/greece-manufacturing-pmi-for-Jan-2018-continues-upward-trend

ATHEX: Banks index rises as other stocks slide

The Greek bourse saw stocks head lower on Friday as a result of pressure on international securities markets over the last couple of days. Trading volume was the lowest in the last four sessions.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225478/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-banks-index-rises-as-other-stocks-slide

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: Solution formula for the dispute with Skopje with the rally in Athens as its background

TO VIMA: Revelation: Behold the plan of UN mediator Nimetz for an agreement with Skopje

REAL NEWS: Historical document on the Skopje issue: The unknown dialogues at the presidential mansion in 1992

PROTO THEMA: Greece rallies at Syntagma square

AVGI: Fair solution to the FYROM issue without fear or prejudice

MONDAY PAPERS

ETHNOS: Peaceful rally

TA NEA: People enraged

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Large and diversified crowd rallied at Syntagma square but was smaller than expected

KONTRA NEWS: Catwalk of the extreme-right and religious extremists at Syntagma square

DIMOKRATIA: Everybody rallied for Macedonia

NAFTEMPORIKI: The secrets and traps ‘hidden inside’ the presumption tax-criteria

Unlikely pair of the week: European Development Commissioner Neven Mimica and Rihanna, photographed campaigning for universal education.

Puigdemont’s Waterloo: Literally, that’s where his hideout is. El Pais explored the one-time and would-be Catalan president’s suburban wonderland outside Brussels. Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called on Catalan separatists to nominate a new leadership candidate after the Catalan parliament last week postponed a parliament session that was expected to reelect Puigdemont.

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

COMMISSION MEETS ECA: Today there is a college-to-college meeting of European commissioners and members of the European Court of Auditors (ECA). The next long-term EU budget is top of the agenda, with the ECA planning to publish its first briefing document on the mammoth financial exercise later this month, the court’s president, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, told Playbook last week. A formal opinion from the court is due before the summer holidays in August.

COMMISSION — MEMBERSHIP PATH FOR WESTERN BALKANS ON TABLE THIS WEEK: In case you missed it, the Commission is on track to launch a new strategy mapping out the membership path for Western Balkan countries, as reported in Playbook last month. The FT identifies Serbia and Montenegro as the “front-runners.”

COUNCIL — TUSK MEETS RUTTE: European Council President Donald Tusk will today meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Hague. If Tusk returned to domestic politics in 2019 or 2020, Rutte would be well-positioned to succeed him as European Council president.

PARLIAMENT — PLENARY KICKS OFF: MEPs will today debate the activities of the European Central Bank with its chief Mario Draghi, Monkeygate and new rules to stop companies from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their home country.

PARLIAMENT — TAXE INCREASE COMING: The European Parliament’s tax investigation committee (known as TAXE), which has mauled executives from companies ranging from Apple to HSBC, looks set to get a new lease of life. The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents is due to vote on a new mandate proposed by Green MEP Sven Giegold Thursday. Read the draft mandate here.

EEAS — MOGHERINI CHAIRS EU-GEORGIA COUNCIL: High Representative Federica Mogherini will chair a meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

BUDGET — EAST COMMITS TO BIGGER BUDGET AFTER BREXIT: In Budapest, Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger won a commitment from eight net recipients of EU budget funds that they’ll support a bigger budget after Brexit. That’s the easy part: as net recipients of EU money, they would say that.

PARTY PEOPLE — EPP PLANNING TODAY: Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will today in Strasbourg, France receive President of the European People’s Party Joseph Daul and the party’s chairman, Manfred Weber. The EPP, traditionally the most organized of the European-level political parties, is moving its election planning up a gear, according to Playbook’s sources.

DIGITAL POLITICS

UNITED NATIONS: FIRST INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION WITH 10M TWITTER FOLLOWERS.

DIGITAL DIPLOMACY: Atlas of departments of foreign affairs’ digital presence.

EU NATIONAL NEWS

GREECE — MASSIVE RALLY IN ATHENS AGAINST COMPROMISE WITH FYROM: The pessimists said 100,000 marched, the optimists said 1.5 million. The realists observed that Greek counting remains a subjective art. Judge for yourself from these pictures.

Demonstrators took to the streets to protest the left-wing government’s willingness to negotiate over the name of its northern neighbor FYROM or Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Some Greeks fear — despite constitutional changes and FYROM’s desire to join NATO and the EU — that Skopje continues to hold territorial claims over areas of Greece’s north, which is also called Macedonia and home to most of historical Macedonia.

GERMANY — SLOUCHING TOWARDS COALITION: Germany’s big parties say a coalition deal is within reach — and they’ve promised to invest in better internet — but the second coming of Germany’s grand coalition isn’t here yet. Matthew Karnitschnig describes how lingering disagreements on health care (whether private payers should get privileges) and labor rules (the SPD wants to make it harder to hire temporary workers) caused the parties to miss another self-imposed deadline Sunday.

ITALY — ERDOĞAN IN ROME: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is today in Italy to meet Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and the pope. He said he will discuss the country’s accession to the EU and the status of Jerusalem. “Our bilateral relations with Italy are excellent, it is a friendly country,” he said ahead of the visit, according to the ANSA press agency.

ITALY — ROME’S RESPECT PROBLEM: “Europe’s long neglect of Italy seems destined to endure, whatever the outcome of next month’s general election,” writes POLITICO’s Paul Taylor, arguing the rest of the Continent has long regarded the country as “a political lightweight and an economic basket case.”

FRANCE — TOUGHER ECONOMIC TESTS AHEAD FOR MACRON: France is back! Europe is back! But while President Emmanuel Macron may have created the conditions for domestic and European reform, that’s not the same as delivering it, writes POLITICO’s Pierre Briançon. French growth is much lower than the eurozone average (1.6 to 2.5 percent in 2017), and there’s a structural ceiling Macron is going to hit his head on: Unemployment that doesn’t depend on economic cycles is possibly as high as 8 percent.

CYPRUS — PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULT: President Nicos Anastasiades beat his leftist rival Stavros Malas to clinch a second term in a runoff election on Sunday, winning 56 percent of the vote.

BREXIT 360°

BARNIER IN LONDON TO MEET DAVIS: The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will today meet U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis in London for political stock-taking. It’s the first time the two have met in London. EU sources are keen to hear the U.K. reaction to the EU’s negotiating directive.

The big question: What does the UK want? We still don’t know. Downing Street Sunday night ruled out any form of customs union with the EU. Our colleague Jack Blanchard reports in today’s London Playbook that a senior Downing Street source said: “It is not our policy to stay in a customs union … We are proposing either of two models — a customs partnership or a highly streamlined customs arrangement.” Still, it will take up two days of Cabinet committee debate this week for the U.K. government to sort out a firm position. The EU’s view is that while it has allowed the U.K. a transition period, it has no intention of negotiating a transition with benefits: It’s a transition period under full EU law, or nothing.

Reminder of what the EU wants: The BBC’s Adam Fleming has a helpful summary here.

What’s next? Technical level negotiations resume in Brussels Tuesday, with no breakthroughs expected by the EU side, though they desperately hope the U.K. will be ready to work on the text of a final exit deal soon.

SOFT-BOILED BREXIT: The Labour opposition can’t bring itself to call for a second referendum or oppose Brexit, but it’s diverging more and more from the Tory government about how Brexit should be handled, reports Charlie Cooper.

The resistance gathers: Groups opposed to hard Brexit have joined forces under Chuka Umunna, a former shadow business secretary.

LONDON HAS NO PLAN B FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES ACCESS TO EU: Financial firms continue to bet on a post-Brexit trade deal that grants extensive access to the EU market, despite frequent signs the EU is not willing to grant it. POLITICO’s Cat Contiguglia and Jacopo Barigazzi have the story.

5 aces the City of London has in hand: There may not be a Plan B, but there is a bedrock of talent and infrastructure that can help the City access the EU market, and also survive if it’s cut off, report Cat and Fiona Maxwell for POLITICO Brexit and Financial Services Pros.

PODCAST DU JOUR: Paul Adamson speaks to former Labour Minister Andrew Adonis about how to stop Brexit and preparing for a second referendum.

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — ALAIN DEHAZE, CEO OF ADECCO

Few people know more about jobs than Dehaze, a Belgian who runs the world’s largest temp staffing firm.

Global apprenticeships network: “We are pushing countries towards starting the apprenticeship model. There are exceptions, like Germany, Switzerland, Austria because those three countries have put in place — over decades — a proper apprenticeship model.” Look out for a March launch of the network in Brussels.

New social contract: “The platform economy is coming, and a lot of repetitive simple processes are being automated. It has consequences. We have to work out the safety net to avoid another crisis … so it is not a social time bomb. In a lot of countries it is much cheaper to lay off people and then hire new ones rather than make the effort to [up]skill [the existing employees].”

Get your competitiveness: “You need a very good education system, some very good schools. You need multinationals close to those schools, and you need government facilitating this and ensuring good quality of life.”

BEYOND EU

AN ARCTIC SPY MYSTERY THREATENING PEACEFUL RELATIONS IN NORWAY-RUSSIA VISA-FREE ZONE: “Can such a good-hearted European pensioner be a spy?” asked a December report about Frode Berg on Russian state television. The Russians say yes. Whatever the answer, several remote communities — which have spent 25 years trying to cooperate — are destabilized. Anton Troianovski reports for the Washington Post.

US — BY THE NUMBERS: The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, up 84 percent on 2017.