10-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

10-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Gender bill puts more pressure on government

The fate of the gender identity bill that will be put to a vote on Tuesday in Parliament appeared to be hanging in the balance on Monday evening as MPs of the junior coalition partner joined opposition parties to voice their opposition.


Creditors’ top reps back in Athens on Oct. 23 to commence negotiations

Creditors’ top auditors will return to Athens on Oct. 23, according to a schedule announced after Monday’s Eurogroup meeting, with chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem saying all sides involved want the upcoming third review of the ongoing bailout to conclude before the year ends.


Elections for center-left party leader to be held Nov. 12

Elections to pick the leader of Greece’s new center-left party will take part on November 12, it was announced Monday.


Probe of main opposition leader’s wife shelved

Judicial authorities have decided to shelve an investigation into New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s wife over a derivation of wealth declaration (“pothen esches”).


Fears of new wave of racist violence

A brutal attack on two migrant workers near the industrial zone of Aspropyrgos, west of Athens, on Saturday, has fueled fears among rights groups of a new wave of systematic assaults by far-right extremists similar to those carried out by members of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn after the party entered Parliament in 2012.


Greek revenue authority: 1 out 5 inspections until Aug. showed a tax evasion violation

Data supplied by Greece’s independent public revenues authority last week showed that roughly one out of five businesses checked by tax inspectors in the first eight months of the year engaged in tax evasion violations.


ATHEX: Index rises on selective spending

Investors in the Greek stock market appeared to be cautiously positioning themselves on Monday as blue chips posted a rise – led by banks – while the majority of stocks ended lower and turnover dipped, partly due to the holiday in the US.







KATHIMERINI: The gender issue tests the government’s stability

ETHNOS: The PM’s office sent letters to all Ministers in order to be informed about the progress in the implementation of the prior actions demanded by the creditors for the conclusion of the bailout programme’s third review

TA NEA: The big break for the center-left Democratic Alignment. Leader elections on 12 and 19 November

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: New Democracy gets divided on the gender bill

AVGI: New Democracy rejects the gender-identity bill and remains in the Middle Ages

RIZOSPASTIS: Behind “growth celebrations” hide never-ending sacrifices and mockery for the people

KONTRA NEWS: The Americans are making a gift to PM Tsipras [by revealing conspiracies of the 60s involving the country’s conservatives]

DIMOKRATIA: Day of shame for the parliament

NAFTEMPORIKI: Green light for the European IMF

Europe’s birth, deaths and marriages: While you’re stuck in traffic today in Brussels (and you will be as a result of the national strike and widespread road closures, which you can read more on below) spare a smile for first lady Jenni Haukio and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland who are expecting a baby, due in February. More on Yle.

Dutch people, or around half of them, should be cheering another birth today after a seven-month pregnancy: their new government. Mark Rutte hopes to be the proud father of quads (or is that a four-way marriage), a coalition made of his center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the conservative Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the liberal D66 and the conservative Christian Union (CU). The government would start with a fragile 76 seats out of 150 in the parliament. It’s easy to imagine another Dutch election in 2018.

COUNCIL — GOODBYE WOLFGANG: It was German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s last meeting of the Eurogroup before he heads to the Bundestag to become the institution’s president. “I’m going to miss him,” said Spain’s Luis de Guindos, who will become the longest-serving finance minister in the Eurogroup once Schäuble leaves (read all about it here if you’re a POLITICO Pro Financial Services subscriber). As a parting gift, he was a given a special 100-Schäuble euro note and a European flag signed by finance ministers. “Nothing will be quite the same,” read the note from Greece’s Euclid Tsakalotos.

A stronger ESM: The main takeaway (link for POLITICO Pro Financial Services subscribers) from Monday’s meeting is that the eurozone’s bailout arm, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), should serve as a financial backstop for the Single Resolution Board (SRB), the EU’s authority for handling banking rescues within the 19-country bloc. This was broadly in line with Schäuble’s parting gift to the group, a three-page note outlining the German government’s position on the future of the ESM and reform of the eurozone, obtained by Il Corriere. Signaling Berlin’s reluctance for a revolutionary overhaul of eurozone governance, the paper suggested a “pragmatic two-step approach,” including a proposal to allow the ESM to monitor governments’ compliance with debt and deficit rules, as well as the introduction of “a predictable debt restructuring mechanism” for sovereigns.

Open to discussion: Talks are under way on the post-2020 budget framework, with a recent suggestion made by the Commission to link the receipt of “structural funds” to compliance with Commission-identified national economic reforms. With Germany being one of the biggest contributors to the EU budget, the paper unsurprisingly flags support for this, saying it would “ensure the important role of the Commission and allow an integrated EU-policy, linking policy coordination … with cohesion policy (structural funds) and the EU-budget.”

Dijsselbloem to stay: Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Monday his Eurogroup presidency will not be killed by the fact his Dutch Labour Party is set to be ejected from government in coming days. Dijsselbloem said he has unanimous support among fellow finance ministers to finish his term in January 2018.

Today in Luxembourg: EU finance ministers will today discuss the Commission’s proposals to overhaul the EU’s VAT regime, as well as its new digital taxation strategy.

COUNCIL — SANCTIONS MAP: Experts are gathering for a day of informal seminars on issues relating to the EU’s use of sanctions against individuals and entities in third countries. The Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU has launched a sanctions map, which lays out all the EU’s sanctions regimes in one place.

COMMISSION — WORLD HOMELESSNESS DAY: Coinciding with World Homelessness Day, Commissioners Marianne Thyssen and Corina Crețu spoke to FEANTSA, a campaign group, about what more the EU and national governments could do to tackle homelessness.


Foreign affairs: MEPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on a resolution laying out what they want from the eastern partnership conference next month. They will then hear from Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. A vote will happen later in the day on who should be shortlisted to win the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Watch live here from 3 p.m.

Budget: Guy Verhofstadt, the Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, will update MEPs on the Budget Committee in a closed-door session on the state of talks with the U.K. MEPs will then vote on the Parliament’s 2018 budget position and a resolution prepared by MEPs Jan Olbrycht and Isabelle Thomas responding to Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s reflection paper on EU finances. In the afternoon, they will have an initial discussion on the Parliament’s post-2020 budget framework, which the Commission is set to propose in spring 2018.

Tax and spend: MEPs on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will debate the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base, as well as discuss MEP Gunnar Hökmark’s proposals for economic policy coordination in the eurozone.

Solidarity Corps: MEPs on the Culture and Employment Committees will hold a public hearing on the Commission’s plans to create a European Solidarity Corps. Green MEP Helga Trüpel will discuss her changes to the original Commission proposal.

BREXIT 360° …

ECJ jurisdiction: In a speech to MPs Monday afternoon, British Prime Minister Theresa May conceded the European Court of Justice would continue to have jurisdiction in the U.K. during the Brexit transition, though she suggested it was “highly unlikely” any new regulations or directives would be brought in during an implementation period that the U.K. had not already agreed to before leaving.

What to expect for this round: Negotiators are expected to focus on citizens’ rights and steer clear of detailed talks on the financial settlement.

Reader feedback: One well-placed source told Playbook the U.K. government’s decision to concentrate lobbying efforts on difficult national governments, rather than a more flexible Michel Barnier, was a deliberate move rather than a miscalculation. If the strategy fails to win over those EU leaders at next week’s summit, the U.K. will not think it’s because they pursued the wrong strategy, Playbook’s source said.

French EU minister speaks out on Brexit progress: Nathalie Loiseau told POLITICO May’s Florence speech “showed a desire to move forward and to propose advancements … But there is a difference between the tone of a speech which creates a favorable context, and the contents of a negotiation.”

The ex-files: Former British PM David Cameron has taken a job with electronic payments firm First Data Corporation, his first major private sector job since leaving office, reports the Guardian.

DIGITAL POLITICS — FREE WI-FI FOR ALL: In the search for the next EU mobile phone roaming policy-type hit, Commission officials in 2016 hit on the idea of funding wi-fi zones across European cities, towns and villages. Free wi-fi already exists in many public spaces and the idea was to use EU money to spread the practice. Governments Monday approved the Wi-Fi4EU proposal, which will distribute €120 million to municipalities and localities for hotspots across Europe in coming years.

FOOD POLITICS — BRUSSELS DECLARES WAR ON SUPERMARKETS: Supermarkets are now squarely in the EU’s crosshairs after European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan launched an unexpected attack on them in a speech at Dublin Castle and announced he would aim to draft legislation to protect farmers, reports Simon Marks.

NUCLEAR — TRUMP THREAT OVER IRAN DEAL UNITES EUROPE: U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw the U.S. from a controversial deal with Iran that saw its nuclear activities brought under greater international scrutiny in return for the lifting of sanctions worth billions of dollars. David Patrikarakos explains that while he may eventually choose not to torpedo the deal, Trump’s brinksmanship has resulted in Europe taking center-stage in holding it together.

SPAIN — INDEPENDENCE DECLARATION TO LEAD COUNTRY TO ABYSS: This afternoon Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s secessionist first minister, is expected to declare his region’s independence from Spain in some form or another. In response, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will likely invoke for the first time ever Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows the central government to take “the necessary steps to compel” a region to comply with the dictums of the central government.

EU DIVISIONS ON THE EASTERN FRONT: Some of the EU’s newest members are divided on the future of the eurozone and Schengen, reports Lili Bayer. Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia want greater integration, including Schengen and eventually also eurozone membership. Poland and Hungary, already in Schengen, are shying away from joining the single currency, and fear greater integration could empower Brussels further.

CZECH REPUBLIC — ELECTION FRONTRUNNER CHARGED WITH EU SUBSIDY FRAUD: Andrej Babiš, frontrunner to become Czech prime minister, was formally charged with fraud Monday in a case involving a €2 million EU subsidy. “I have received a decision on the commencement of criminal prosecution in the pseudo-case … I immediately appealed this decision,” he said in response to the verdict.

HUNGARY — SOROS, SATAN, IMMIGRATION: András Aradszki, a secretary of state for energy from a party in coalition with Fidesz, suggested billionaire financier George Soros and his allies in the European Commission were working with Satan to fill Hungary with immigrants. “I speak of an attack by Satan, who is also the angel of denial, because they are denying what they are preparing to do — even when it is completely obvious. They frantically try to prove that there is no quota, there is no compulsory settlement, and the Soros Plan does not exist.


COUNTDOWN TO BELGIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS: They are now one year away. If that sounds like an absurd countdown, remember you only get the chance to vote once every six years, and most non-Belgians don’t. Here are the forms you need to fill out to register to vote as a non-Belgian living here. Only people registered for more than five years are able to cast a ballot.