10-07-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

10-07-2018 | EYE ON GREECE |

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Draghi pours cold water on Greek hopes for QE

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Monday lowered expectations that Greece could participate in the central bank’s quantitative easing program (QE) after its adjustment program expires in August, saying a debt sustainability analysis will need to be completed before the country’s bonds are included.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230498/article/ekathimerini/business/draghi-pours-cold-water-on-greek-hopes-for-qe

GreeK PM Tsipras in London for EU-Western Balkans Summit

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras is in London to take part in the EU-Western Balkans Summit on Tuesday, where he is scheduled to meet with Albanian PM Edi Rama. Recently Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias had promised to solve the bilateral disputes between Greece and Albania before leaving for summer vacations.

http://en.protothema.gr/greek-pm-tsipras-in-london-for-eu-western-balkan-summit/

‘No longer possible’ to utilize Lagarde list, says head of revenue authority

The head of Greece’s  Independent Authority for Public Revenue admitted on Monday that tax authorities can no longer investigate the so-called Lagarde list for possible tax evaders, following two decisions by the Council of State last year.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230511/article/ekathimerini/news/no-longer-possible-to-utilize-lagarde-list-says-head-of-revenue-authority

Tsipras says government wants manufacturing to reach 12 pct of GDP in ‘medium-term’

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday the government wants Greek manufacturing to contribute 12 percent of the country’s GDP “in the medium-term,” in a speech at the general assembly of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), in Thessaloniki.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230505/article/ekathimerini/news/tsipras-says-government-wants-manufacturing-to-reach-12-pct-of-gdp-in-medium-term

BofA: Negative view on Greek banks – the challenge remains formidable

Greek banks have made a lot of progress, but big challenges remain, BofA Merrill Lynch notes stressing that it takes a broadly negative view on the sector.

http://en.capital.gr/News.asp?id=2453235

EIB strikes deal with Eurobank on SME funding

Eurobank announced on Monday that two new agreements had been signed with the European Investment Bank for supporting investment plans by small and medium-sized enterprises.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230509/article/ekathimerini/business/eib-strikes-deal-with-eurobank-on-sme-funding

ATHEX: Turnover dips to lowest point in 18 months

Daily turnover sank to a new low on Monday but the majority of stocks on the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) edged upward at the start of the week, despite the slump in bank stocks at the very end of the session.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230513/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-turnover-dips-to-lowest-point-in-18-months

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KATHIMERINI: Our university degrees are creating young unemployed individuals

ETHNOS: The scenarios regarding pensions

TA NEA: The grade-thresholds for 47 university schools

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Jab at the industrialists by PM Tsipras

AVGI: Alliance for the exit from the crisis

RIZOSPASTIS: We will not accept nuclear weapons in Araxos river

KONTRA NEWS: Two independent MPs will join SYRIZA

DIMOKRATIA: Cannabis in food and cosmetics!

NAFTEMPORIKI: Draghi makes vague statements regarding waiver and QE

STRONG AND STABLE

BORIS M.I.A: “We’re still waiting for our host…” Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth tweeted from London. He was waiting along with more than a dozen other participants — six Western Balkans countries who aren’t yet EU members but would like to be, eight EU countries and the Commission — gathered in London for a much-touted Balkans summit, but the U.K. foreign secretary was nowhere to be seen. The unmissable irony is that the U.K. had loudly insisted on hosting the conference. It was supposed to show off its leadership and tout its role in shepherding the Balkans’ bid to join a club Britain itself has vowed to leave.

A few hours later, Johnson made it clear he wouldn’t be showing up at all. Instead, he resigned from government. And with a bang: In his letter of resignation to the prime minister, he described the “Brexit dream” as “dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt” and that under May’s plan, the U.K. was “truly headed for the status of of colony.” Well, then.

Gotta love British political lingo: “This is Boris’ last chance to show he’s not an irrelevant panty wetter,” one senior Tory aide told Tom McTague — meaning Johnson should quit if he wants to convince any proper Brexiteer he has a backbone and cares for a chance of becoming calife à la place de la calife. 

Musical chairs: The new foreign minister is Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary (Matt Hancock, former digital minister, takes over Hunt’s old position). Dominic Raab — May’s former housing secretary, and a Leave supporter — was appointed Brexit secretary.

WHAT NOW? David Davis and Johnson’s double-resignation came after May’s latest attempt to pull together something concrete out of the maximum vagueness that has been characteristic for the British government’s position on its future relationship with the EU. Is this just as far as May can stretch a consensus on what Brexit means? And what happens if the EU isn’t happy? We could go on, but will leave it at those two questions for now.

The resignations make an imminent challenge to May’s leadership more likely. All her opponents need to trigger a formal vote are 48 letters of no confidence from Conservative MPs. If May loses the vote, she would have to resign as party leader and prime minister.

But not so fast: Initial signs suggest May’s obstinate refusal to let the two major Cabinet resignations drag her off course may just succeed — or let her hang on and fight a bit longer. “Despite all the noise, the arithmetic in parliament has not changed,” write Tom McTague, Charlie Cooper and Annabelle Dickson. “Britian’s zombie prime minister” is insisting her latest Brexit offer — which would see the U.K. permanently aligned to EU rules on goods and agriculture — will still be published in full on Thursday as planned. The latest from London here.

Who said it? Test your knowledge of the two ex-Brexit gaffers-in-chief by taking our quiz — not an easy one, by Paul Dallison.

VIEW FROM BRUSSELS: The “crisis” looks a little less critical, judging from the reactions we got from Brexit officials on this side of the Channel. To summarize, if I may: It doesn’t matter who doesn’t negotiate on behalf of the U.K. More from David Herszenhorn and Jacopo Barigazzi here.

First class trolling: Johnson’s decision to quit “clearly proves that at Chequers there was a unity of views in the British cabinet,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker quipped at a press conference. Dixit Donald Tusk, president of the European Council: “Politicians come and go but the problems they have created for people remain. I can only regret that the idea of Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson. But… who knows?”

NO OFFENSE: “It was in fact not the intention to cause any irritation,” a spokesperson for the interior ministry said of Horst Seehofer’s recent Brexit meddling. That came after a reminder, delivered via Süddeutsche Zeitung as well as yours truly, that the German Foreign Office would love to please be let out of the conservatives’ internal power struggle. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her interior minister on Monday spoke on the phone to assure one another there’s no disagreement at all. Of course not.

DON’T MENTION BREXIT: Millions of English men and women are holding their breath as England readies to take on Croatia in Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal. The belief that “English football is best” has got them dreaming of an English victory — and this time it’s not a delusion, writes Tunku Varadarajan for POLITICO’s Linesman blog.

STABLE GENIUS ON TOUR

EUROPE’S DONALD TRUMP PROBLEM: Aides to the U.S. president insist their boss’s fractious relationship with Europe fits into long tradition of transatlantic disagreements between leaders who, in the end, are inextricably bound together by deeper shared interests and values. But the view from Europe is rather different: The churn in the White House and its disregard for transatlantic institutions have thrown senior European officials off balance and obliterated any sense of predictability. “Now, after 18 months of trying — and failing — to flatter, cajole, and convince Trump that Europe and the U.S. are still on the same side, European leaders say they have all but given up,” writes David Herszenhorn. His must-read piece here.

WHAT TO EXPECT: “The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%, and NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the U.S.,” Trump tweeted Monday, kicking off his work week, or perhaps sketching out his presentation to allies.

Trump’s week includes the NATO summit in Brussels, after which he’ll jet off to the U.K. Thursday for a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s birthplace, later that evening. (A side note: There’s a Blenheim eau de toilette, with citric, spicy, and slightly woody notes, that was created for the Churchill family, as the legend goes, more than 100 years ago. It’s one of the greater achievements of British craftsmanship.)

Talks with Theresa May Friday will take place at her rural retreat at Chequers (the site of her infamous Brexit “consensus.”) Plus, he’ll have a meeting with the queen at Windsor Castle. Trump will then spend the weekend in Scotland (no three guesses for what he’ll do there) before he flies to Helsinki to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, July 16.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall: If I could observe just one meeting this week, it would have to be Trump’s sit-down with the Queen. Bloody parliamentary democracy, where a government can tell you with whom to have tea!

Up and at ’em: Meanwhile, Trump’s envoy to the EU — hotelier Gordon Sondlandlanded in Brussels, presented his credentials to Tusk, and is ready to go, Trump-style: “Ambassador Sondland also relaunched the @USAmbEU Twitter feed today,” the embassy said. “Follow him on Twitter.”

And before the big trip: Trump announced Monday evening he would nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court justice, setting up a major confirmation battle in the Senate as Trump moves to dramatically reshape the court. Full story here.

STOLTENBERG IS READY FOR TRUMP: “The message of this summit is that NATO is delivering and NATO is united. We are responding to a more challenging and unpredictable security environment, but we’re doing that by standing together, North America and Europe,” the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, told ZDF in an interview that aired late Monday. But will that still be true come Thursday?

But what makes Stoltenberg so sure the summit won’t end in a disaster, like the G7 meeting did a few weeks ago? “We prepared the summit carefully,” said Stoltenberg. Reading between the lines: There’ll be no opportunity for Trump to publicly name, shame or insult allies. Stoltenberg’s a structural optimist (or a master in auto-hypnosis) — and the strategy is to bring Trump around to the idea that it’s not just about the money, and that NATO is totally fine with Trump seeing Putin, that it’s actually a very good thing, and that it wants Germany to pay more, too.

NATO has some goodies ready for Trump: “I expect and am confident that at the summit we will make many important decisions, on strengthening the readiness of our forces, on stepping up the fight against terrorism, on a new training mission, also on modernizing our command structure, with a new command in Norfolk in America but also in Ulm in Germany,” Stoltenberg said. “So I’m confident that we can demonstrate that NATO is delivering, that NATO, despite disagreements among many nations on trade and climate, when it comes to security and defense, we do more together and strengthen the bond between Europe and North America.”

RULE OF LAW ISSUES

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER: Poland will have to appear before the General Affairs Council again in September to defend the country’s understanding of how its justice reforms are compatible with a European understanding of the rule of law. That’s the outcome of the latest EU ambassadors’ meeting on July 4 (a mammoth eight-and-a-half-hour long discussion), according to internal notes obtained by Playbook and diplomats present; Jacopo Barigazzi and myself teamed up on this.

The notes show, in sober diplomatic terms, how little support Poland has among its peers. Put more bluntly, as diplomats did, they’re a tale of defeat on all fronts.

Reminder: At the last hearing, EU partners were unconvinced by Poland’s defense and said sanctions would continue.

Let’s talk again: According to the notes, Poland wanted to remove a scheduled debriefing session on the hearing from the ambassadors’ agenda last week, and talk about it later. That request was declined by the Bulgarian EU presidency. Poland then tried to block another hearing on its justice laws from taking place at the General Affairs Council in September (in theory, there can be an unlimited number of hearings as part of the Article 7 procedure before it may or may not come to a vote). Warsaw, with support only from Hungary, claimed the June hearing had been exhaustive enough and insisted no new information was available. That didn’t work either.

Not off the hook: France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Luxembourg, Finland, Slovenia, Greece, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and Estonia all disagreed with Warsaw’s tactic and intervened in favor of yet another hearing in September. Not even the Visegrád 4 group’s other half — Slovakia and the Czech Republic — wholeheartedly supported Warsaw; their position was to argue that ambassadors should assess the situation closer to the EU ministers’ September meeting before a decision is made. A legalistic argument, Poland’s last shot, on why ambassadors shouldn’t be allowed to prepare ministers’ agendas, didn’t work either.

The bottom line: Polish charm hasn’t done anything to win the country any new friends among the Brussels decision-making elites after the first hearing.

MEANWHILE, IN ROMANIA: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed a decree Monday to dismiss the country’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Laura Codruța Kövesi. He was compelled to in order to comply with a ruling by the Constitutional Court, or respect the rule of law, if you will. “The fight against corruption must not, in any case, be abandoned or slowed down,” the president’s spokeswoman Mădălina Dobrovolschi said at a press conference in Bucharest. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader had wanted Kövesi out, and now succeeded. “The political will now is not for an efficient judiciary, but for blocking investigations and justice,” Kövesi said after the president’s announcement. Carmen Paun has the story.

IN OTHER NEWS

EXTRACURRICULARS: Nearly a third of legislators in the European Parliament have paid side jobs, with many earning hundreds of thousands of euros on top of their EU salary. The figures — based on analysis of public filings by parliamentarians — are eye-opening: Up to 30 MEPs across large parts of the spectrum have higher outside incomes than their salary of €8,484 per month excluding allowances; four MEPs appear to have earned more than €1 million since 2014. Maïa de la Baume has the story.

HOT WATER: Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings are taking a dive… because of a pool. The French president has come under for spending public money on glitzy trappings like an outdoor pool in his 17th-century home despite his promises of a more humble leadership style. But the problem isn’t just about his image — it’s political too. More from Zach Young in Paris here.