06-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

06-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, November 06, 2017

Tensions flare in debate on crime

In a debate in Parliament on Friday about a spike in crime, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras dodged questions raised by conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, insisted that law and order has improved under SYRIZA and sought to shift the focus to other issues.


Greek PM hosts Afghan boy, 11, whose home was targeted by racist vandals

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday welcomed 11-year-old Afghan schoolboy Amir to the Maximos Mansion for a meeting that was also attended by Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas.


Greece’s migration minister rejects calls for open border policy

Greece’s Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has defended the government’s “pragmatic” approach to the refugee crisis – and also a March 2016 deal between EU member states and Turkey for stemming flows in the Aegean – while rejecting calls from inside the ruling SYRIZA party for an open border policy.


Statistics authority: Crisis years exacerbated demographic crisis in Greece; lowered living standards

The crisis years in Greece have exacerbated long-term problems in the country, such as a demographic decline, while negatively – and one would expected – affecting living standards.


Govt dismisses poor ranking in WEF’s competitiveness report, claims 4 bln€ in FDIs in 2017

Greece’s relevant development and economy ministry issued a quick response over the weekend to a yet another negative international ranking touching the recession-battered country’s competitiveness, claiming that foreign direct investments in the country will exceed four billion euros in 2017.


Declared incomes tumbled by 2.5 bln euros in a year

Greeks’ declared incomes shrank by over 2.5 billion euros in a year from 2015 to 2016, as the earnings that salary workers, pensioners, freelance professionals and property owners declared in June for the 2016 financial year amounted to 72.5 billion euros, against 75.01 billion euros for the previous year, the processing of this year’s tax statements has shown.


Strict rules for state corporations in the hyperfund

State corporations going under the purview of Greece’s privatizations hyperfund will undergo sweeping changes in management and regulations.


Two or three more bond issues after November

After this month’s scheduled swap of the 20 bonds from the 2012 haircut (PSI) that expire between 2023 and 2042 with up to five new bonds, the Finance Ministry’s plan foresees two or three forays into the money markets until the bailout program expires next August.


ATHEX: Volatile day ends with minor gains

After a volatile trading session in Athens on Friday, the main index of the Greek stock market closed up slightly while the banks index ended in the red. Stocks were split between winners and losers as the market failed to sustain the growth momentum seen earlier in the week.








KATHIMERINI: The government is sinking due to citizens’ everyday problems and seeking a lifejacket in social allowances

TO VIMA: Street battles: The government will follow a strategy of tension until the elections

REAL NEWS: Investigation regarding kickbacks given to former Defense Minister Giannos Papantoniou also target former PM Kostas Simitis

PROTO THEMA: Athens and Brussels engage in wordplay in order to camouflage the new Memorandum

AVGI: The great clash between yesterday and tomorrow

RIZOSPASTIS: Everyone join the protest rally on 9 November!


ETHNOS: Tax evaders’ ‘paradise’

TA NEA: The PM’s office is examining the double-elections scenario [so that general elections coincide with municipal elections]

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Pharmaceuticals blackmail the government

KONTRA NEWS: Storm of revelations regarding scandals

DIMOKRATIA: Ten changes in regulations regarding illegal constructions

NAFTEMPORIKI: The tax changes that are going to ‘freeze’

Over the weekend everyone from Queen Elizabeth to Facebook investors and MEPs was named in the Paradise Papers tax investigation. The Saudi Kingdom is in the midst of a severe purge, the Lebanese prime minister quit citing fears for his life, and there’s been another gun massacre in a church in the United States. The EU will remain under pressure over Catalonia.


After three years of revelations from the Luxembourg Leaks and Panama Papers, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released on Sunday its latest tax avoidance analysis: the Paradise Papers. They report on 13.4 million documents: decades of loan agreements, financial statements, emails and trust deeds from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm. First obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with 380 ICIJ journalists in 67 countries, the papers took a year to verify and follow up. Here’s a two-minute video explainer from the Guardian.

What to expect this week: Details on the offshore financial arrangements of over a hundred political figures, including Queen Elizabeth II and 13 allies and Cabinet members of U.S. President Donald Trump. Tax plans of 100 multinational companies, including Apple, Nike and Uber are also foreshadowed. The Guardian has a summary.

What’s the EU link? EU governments are not fully cooperating with European Commission and NGO efforts to increase tax transparency and “by failing to act they are complicit in this corrupt system,” said Rachel Owens, head of advocacy at Global Witness. Transparency International’s Carl Dolan pins blame on Berlin. “EU governments such as Germany have been standing against the rising tide of financial transparency,” Dolan said. His partner, Vanessa Mock, is certain to face a barrage of questions at today’s Commission press briefing: she’s the tax spokeswoman.


Russia funded Facebook and Twitter investments: There’s now a semi-direct line between the companies’ profits and Kremlin money. The New York Times has more.

Lithuanian MEP Antanas Guoga named as founder and former shareholder of iBus Media, a gambling news publisher established on the Isle of Man. Guoga, a former global poker star and local business mogul, also owns Malta-registered SG Holdings, which is not listed in his parliamentary financial disclosure, according to 15min.lt. Guoga denied any wrongdoing.

former Barcelona mayor and Catalan independence leader named.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross profits from Russia: Legal or not, Wilbur Ross’s investments are a bad look given the intense investigation under way in the United States over Russian interference in the U.S. election.


EUROGROUP — NEW FORMAT TODAY: EU27 finance ministers (all but the U.K.) today meet to discuss firming up the bloc’s banking system and fiscal rules. While the 19 eurozone ministers will meet in their traditional Eurogroup format from 3 p.m., the meeting will be opened up to ministers representing EU governments that participate in the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, as well as Croatia and the Czech Republic, which asked to take part as observers. Eurogroup finance ministers will then regroup for dinner with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. Full agenda here.

Runners and riders in the race to lead the Eurogroup: The people to watch today are the ones who want to replace Jeroen Dijsselbloem as Eurogroup president. Playbook can’t tell you how the election will work because there are no formal rules. The decision is likely in December. The smart money is on anyone except someone from the European People’s Party, which already holds three of the four top EU jobs. Here’s a rundown of some of the top picks …

Pierre Gramegna (Luxembourg)

Pros: Liberal, from a small country, well-liked.

Cons: From Luxembourg, like Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and the tiny duchy is already punching above its weight at the EU’s top tables.

Peter Kažimír (Slovakia)

Pros: Socialist. Moderate. EU presidency experience. Could help lure other Central European countries to join euro.

Cons: Rarely media shy. As hawkish as Dijsselbloem when it comes to Greece and other EU rule breakers.

Mário Centeno (Portugal)

Pros: From Europe’s most successful Socialist government and a small country.

Cons: Portugal is only recently clear from its EU bailout.

Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Latvia) — Happy birthday today!

Pros: Breath of fresh air, as a wave of young leaders hit Europe’s spotlight. Would be first Baltic politician in a major EU post.

Cons: From a tiny Green party rather than a large European party group.

Outsiders: Bruno Le Maire (France) and Pier Carlo Padoan (Italy). Both from big countries with plenty of their own problems. Macron may want to keep his powder dry for the Commission presidency; Italy already runs the European Central Bank. Reuters reports Le Maire will head to Berlin on Wednesday to gauge support for his candidacy.

**Watch live on November 23 from 6:30 p.m. CET — POLITICO’s event “Post COP 23 – The changing dynamics of climate diplomacy with European Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, MEP Julie Girling, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, chief negotiator for the COP23 presidency, and Emmanuel Guerin, executive director for global policies at the European Climate Foundation. For more information, visit our website **

COMMISSION — MOGHERINI IN DC: High Representative Federica Mogherini is today in Washington D.C. for meetings in Congress with Vice President Mike Pence and Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to discuss the Iran nuclear deal.

COP23 — BONN JOUR! Climate negotiators from 197 countries are in Bonn for the next two weeks to try to hammer out rules aimed at making sure they actually meet the global warming goals set in the 2015 Paris agreement. The stickiest issues in the talks are likely to center on how to help vulnerable island countries with the loss and damage from climate change. On the sidelines, the attention will be on mayors and governors, businesses, financiers and the many, many others ruminating on what they can do to help limit global warming.

Hypocrite alert: Berlin pitches itself as a green leader, but by ditching nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, Germany’s landed itself with seven of Europe’s 10 worst polluting coal power plants. A fact protestors in Germany keenly pointed out Sunday. ICYMI — Sara Stefanini has the full story on how Germany illustrates the difficulties faced by self-styled green pioneers here.

The 7 key people to watch at the climate summit.

How the world’s warming, in infographics.

DIGITAL POLITICS — WEB SUMMIT STARTS TODAY IN LISBON: The world’s biggest tech conference is taking on more of a political edge. There’s certainly nowhere else one can talk about tech backlash, as well as opportunity in front of 50,000 people. With POLITICO serving as a media partner, Playbook is here in Lisbon to cover the action, including a star turn from François Hollande. The big names featuring tonight are European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager and Portugal’s PM António Costa.

Spotted: Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave in earnest sales mode at the Barrio Alto branch of Lisbon’s top baristas, Fábrica, at Rua das Flores 63.

NATO — 59 PERCENT OF FINNS AGAINST MEMBERSHIP: The news came in a Helsingin Sanomat poll.


Austrian party leader resigns: Peter Pilz, a former leader of the Austrian Greens and founder of the Pilz List party, resigned on Saturday after 31 years in parliament amid reports he groped a woman during a conference in 2013.

UK de facto deputy PM on the rocks: One of Theresa May’s closest allies, Damian Green, was meant to be the man May could rely on, writes Tim Shipman. After “extreme porn” and improper advance allegations, the reliability factor is waning.

Journalist speaks out about Fallon assault: Jane Merrick writes that she spoke about former U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon lunging at her in 2003 because “the debate about the so-called ‘grey areas’ — the groping of knees, the unwanted lunges — was turning into a trivialized farce about ‘kneegate,’ as if everything up to rape was not something to get upset about.”

What to watch in France: Labor and Employment Minister Muriel Pénicaud confirmed to the French newspaper JDD three allegation of sexual harassment in her ministry. Marine Le Pen said Le Monde’s reports of harassment issues in National Front were about “bad break-ups” and not harassment.

Polish military in crosshairs: Poland’s largest portal Onet reports about female soldiers harassed by top brass in the Military Gendarmerie.


GERMANY — REFUGEE FIGHT THREATENS GERMAN COALITION PLANS: The Greens remain at odds with their potential conservative government partners over refugee policy and their differences may be unbridgeable, reports Emily Schultheis.

GERMANY — THE GOVERNMENT’S WORST-CASE SCENARIOS FOR EUROPE IN 2040: The German military considers the disintegration of the European Union and the West over the next few decades a possibility, according to an internal report.

ROMANIA — SOCIALIST PAY-FOR-PLAY IN DC: Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea allegedly paid $100,000 to Washington D.C.-based lobby firm Madison & Company to arrange meetings with Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Dragnea denied the claim.

ROMANIA — 20,000 PROTEST CORRUPTION: Romanians took to the streets to protest changes in laws that would make Romania more lenient to corruption, writes Carmen Paun.

SLOVAKIA — FAR-RIGHT GOVERNOR VOTED OUT: Marian Kotleba, leader of the far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia, lost Saturday’s regional election, which also saw the ruling center-left SMER party lose control of the governorship of Bratislava and several regional assemblies to center-right parties. Full results on SME.sk.

SICILY ELECTION — CENTER RIGHT AHEAD IN EXIT POLLS: Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right coalition looked on-track to narrowly win the regional vote in Sicily, according to exit polls. POLITICO will report the results as they are released from 8 a.m. today.


It’s now 501 days since the U.K. voted to leave the EU.

British negotiators are back in Brussels today. James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, is also in town and will deliver a speech to the European Policy Center. “We are going to make the most of the opportunities that our departure presents to Northern Ireland,” Brokenshire said in a statement released ahead of the visit.

Corbyn and May to lay out their Brexit visions: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will set out competing visions of Brexit this morning in separate speeches to the Confederation of British Industry, my London Playbook colleague Jack Blanchard reports today. May will say a transitional Brexit deal is “crucial to our future success” and insist Britain must be able to sign trade deals during the transition.

Shrinking Britain: “Nobody on the Continent really cares that much about Britain anymore,” Carnegie Europe’s Tomáš Valášek told the New York Times’ Steven Erlanger, who writes that Britain has lost its national narrative. Former Labour high-flyer Tristram Hunt also argues Britain has ceded its global cultural footprint to France.

What Europe wants: “May’s Brexit adviser, Oliver Robbins, was told last week that EU officials need to see only a ‘single sentence’ in writing to indicate Britain’s acceptance of budget commitments.” That’s EU code for €60 billion, reports the Sunday Times’ Bojan Pancevski. The Economist’s Duncan Robinson had the smartest take: “Tories doing the Syriza. Kick up a fuss and then accept original terms,” — a reference to Greece’s dramatic and failed 2015 efforts to move the EU to a different position on its bailout.

Brexit so far is an economic non-event: Brexit may be a political and diplomatic shambles, but it’s not hitting Britons in the hip pocket. That worries British businesses, which worry ministers and the public may get complacent, increasing the odds of a no-deal Brexit, report Tom McTague and Cat Contiguglia.

Contingency plans ready: Some 60 percent of firms in Britain will have triggered their contingency plans by March 2018, according to a new study by CBI.


Catalan leaders free after handing themselves over to police: Catalan ex-President Carles Puigdemont and four former ministers turned themselves in to Belgian police Sunday morning and were freed by a Belgian judge pending further hearings Sunday night. Puigdemont has the right to contest his extradition request at multiple levels in the Belgian courts.

How FC Barcelona defines modern Catalonia: Barca’s sense of identity is framed by Catalan nationalism. But the club is unlikely to quit or be forced out of the hugely popular Spanish Football League, writes Jimmy Burns for POLITICO.

EU must get creative to avoid embarrassment and irrelevance over Catalonia, argues Richard Youngs.

Jambon tough on Rajoy and the EU: Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told Dutch-speaking broadcaster VTM that the Spanish government went “too far” in jailing former Catalan ministers and accused the EU of double standards over rule of law.

Pro-independence parties expected to win election: That’s according to a survey published in La Vanguardia.


SAUDI ARABIA — GOVERNMENT PURGE AND PRINCE DEAD IN HELICOPTER CRASH: Eleven Saudi princes were detained over the weekend and one mysteriously died in a helicopter crash Sunday. WSJ | Reuters | FT

LEBANON — PM RESIGNS, FEARS OF SAUDI THREAT: He quit Saturday saying he feared for his life.

PODCAST DU JOUR: Paul Adamson talks to GMF’s Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff.