10-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

10-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dijsselbloem wants review progress

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned on Thursday that more needs to be done to wrap up the third bailout review by the end of the year. Addressing the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Dutch official expressed optimism however that the deadline will be met.


Brussels has revised its Greek growth estimate too

The European Commission has slashed its growth outlook for Greece this year by half a percentage point, as its fall forecasts point to a 1.6 percent expansion of the economy compared to 2.1 percent six months ago. This matches the estimate the Finance Ministry made on Tuesday.


Decision to grant prison leave to N17 hitman fuels outrage

A decision by a judicial council on Thursday to release convicted November 17 hitman Dimitris Koufodinas on a two-day furlough triggered angry reactions from politicians and foreign diplomats.


Greek consumer price inflation slows down to 0.5 pct in October

Greece’s annual EU-harmonized inflation rate slowed down in October, statistics service ELSTAT data showed on Thursday.


Eldorado Gold announces suspension of works at Skouries site, demands licenses and state support

Eldorado Gold said on Thursday it would freeze investments in its Skouries gold mine in Greece, taking a tough stand in its battle with the country’s government.


ELA-ceiling for Greek banks eased

The Bank of Greece (BoG) on Thursday announced that the ECB’s governing council did not object to an ELA-ceiling for Greek banks eased to 26.9 billion euros, up to and including Nov. 22, 2017, following a request by the Greek central bank.


ATHEX: Stocks perform balancing act

Greek bank stocks broke their losing streak on Thursday – but only just – in a trading session of mixed fortunes which ended with stocks split down the middle between winners and losers.







KATHIMERINI: Storm of reactions due to the temporary release of convicted terrorist Koufodinas

ETHNOS: Way to go, Jeroen! Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem admits that banks were saved through Greece’s bailout programs at the expense of taxpayers

TA NEA: Document proves that Defense Minister Kammenos is lying about the armament deal with a Saudi Arabia middle man

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Cynical confession by Dijsselbloem about Greece’s bailout programs

AVGI: New Democracy attempts a diversion by focusing on the temporary release of terrorist Koufodinas instead of the Siemens and offshore scandals

RIZOSPASTIS: The government and the main opposition party are pretending to fight with each other but in the end they both vote in favour of the antipopular measures

KONTRA NEWS: A banker set up an offshore company in the Bermudas in order to engage in gambling activities

DIMOKRATIA: [Deputy] Minister of Finances Pitsiorlas involved in scandal with Russians!

NAFTEMPORIKI: Scenery of artificial exit from the Memorandum


MACRON’S TIME MAGAZINE COVER: French President Emmanuel Macron is pitched as “the next leader of Europe” on the cover of Time, “If only he can lead France.” In a long-form interview Macron says the new generation of European leaders must be more engaged at the EU level. Full interview here.

Youth does not make a Twitter addict: “It’s not compatible with the kind of distance you need to govern,” he said.

JUNCKER’S ACADEMIC HAT HABIT: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker received another honorary doctorate Thursday, this one from Spain’s University of Salamanca, in an amazing hat (though last week’s hat, in Portugal, was better). Juncker’s spokesman Margaritis Schinas tweeted pictures of Juncker minus the hat.

Just say no: Juncker told his audience he said “no to any form of separatism,” an apparent reference to the independence push in Catalonia.

PRESIDENT BARNIER? Michel Barnier didn’t wear a hat or feature on a magazine cover; For someone who is supposed to be focused on a stalled negotiation he sounded very presidential during a speech in Rome Thursday.

Barnier said the U.K. faces a choice between keeping the European economic model or deregulating in the hope of a trade deal with the U.S. Barnier backed a eurozone finance minister to continue banking reforms to ensure the EU remains “a leading financial center after the departure of the City” and welcomed a recent deal between labor ministers on the revision of posted workers rules.


This week’s episode features Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the head of Greece’s New Democracy party and the country’s opposition leader in parliament.

Listen immediately | Listen offline via iTunes.

Outsider or dynasty? Big reforms either way: Mitsotakis is the son of a former Greek prime minister, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, yet ran for the party leadership with virtually no support from fellow MPs. Instead, he won in an open primary thanks to backing from ordinary Greek center-right voters. His pitch is major reform via a mix of government professionalism and tax cuts. He believes Greeks can count the cost of electing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in 2015 in cash. “If you just look at the projections of the European Commission back in 2014, they were predicting at the time that the economy would grow 2.9 percent and 3.6 percent in 2015-2016. We had a recession in both. We paid a very heavy bill for experimenting with Mr. Tsipras.”


PARLIAMENT — PRO-EU ELECTION CAMPAIGN TO BE SIGNED OFF: Playbook’s Harry Cooper obtained a draft of the Parliament’s communications strategy for the 2019 European elections, which calls for the institution to “take a clear and unambiguous stance in favor of the European Union.” The proposed strategy’s author, Parliament Secretary General Klaus Welle, argues the approach is necessary because the EU faces an existential crisis.

‘It is no exaggeration to say that the EU is at stake,’ the note says, adding the “campaign should not just aim to bring voters to the polls, but also convince them to support the European project.” A key component of the strategy is to focus on people who “look favorably” on the EU but don’t vote in European elections, including “opinion-makers” (identified as “employed professionals” and “management”), young voters and students. The full details here.

PARLIAMENT — LAWYERS SAY NO TO ECB BOND BUYING: The Parliament’s lawyers said in an opinion obtained by Reuters that the European Central Bank’s plans to remove non-performing loans from lenders’ books would go beyond its mandate.

SOCIAL SUMMIT — INTERNAL SOCIALIST FIGHT ON EUROPEAN SOCIAL RIGHTS: More than 20 MEPs in Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats group have written to their colleagues to urge them not to accept a legislative compromise on Juncker’s flagship European Pillar of Social Rights, which they say isn’t sufficiently ambitious. The move could embarrass Socialist leader Stefan Löfven of Sweden, who is hosting an EU summit next week in Gothenburg on these very policies.

AGRICULTURE — BRUSSELS RIPS UP FREE MARKET TO HELP FARMERS: For years the EU has slowly tried to liberalize its subsidized agricultural markets. Now it faces a Brexit-created budget hole. But instead of giving up the subsidy ghost, the bloc has a new way to deal with the dire economic circumstances of many European farmers: allowing them to form cartels. Emmet Livingstone has the story.

AGRICULTURE — WAITING FOR GLYPHO: On Thursday, European countries failed to agree on the Commission’s proposal to renew the herbicide glyphosate’s license for five years. Fourteen countries endorsed the Commission’s plan, nine voted against and five abstained, falling short of the 16 countries and 65 percent of the region’s population needed to reach a qualified majority. An “appeal committee” will meet by the end of the month to analyze options. More details here for POLITICO Pro Food and Agri, Health and Energy and Environment subscribers.

COMMISSION — ITALIANER APOLOGIZES TO ROMANIA: Commission Secretary General Alexander Italianer wrote to Romania’s EU ambassador acknowledging his officials had made a mistake in their assessment of the country’s bid for the European Medicines Agency.

COMMISSIONERS’ DIARY: President Juncker meets Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar. High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Neven Mimica are in Samarkand, Uzbekistan for the EU-Central Asia foreign ministers’ meeting. Vice President Jyrki Katainen is in Brasilia, Brazil to discuss the ongoing Mercosur trade negotiations (— his team will spend 30 hours out of 70 on planes Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

COUNCIL — TRADE MINISTERS MEET: The Council will prepare for the 11th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will take place December 10-13, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Full agenda here.

CLIMATE — CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR EXPLAINS CLIMATE POLITICS: “It’s not real, like crime, like terrorism, like a university, like a tax — it’s not like a machine. This thing is so all-encompassing that it’s hard to grasp,” Jerry Brown said at a German Marshall Fund event.

Global carbon pricing is key, but don’t expect an EU-California link just yet: Brown thinks the EU carbon market needs time to mature before it can be integrated into a single market with California’s.

Get tough on carmakers or they’ll create another Detroit in Europe: That was Brown’s response to a question about the European auto industry’s opposition to the Commission’s new climate policies for transport. “China is pushing zero-emissions vehicles,” he said as a way of comparison.

DEFENSE — SHOULD BREXIT BRITAIN BE EMBRACED OR KEPT AT DISTANCE? Non-EU countries can take part in defense-sector industrial activities led by the European Defense Agency and join the bloc’s military operations, but they have almost no role in designing them. Jacopo Barigazzi reports countries in Central Europe and on the Baltic now “favor giving London special status to enable it to take part in the decision-making process regarding military missions and, potentially, also on industrial projects in the defense sector.” But Germany and France aren’t yet on board.

DEFENSE — SWEDES SNUB, TURKS TAKE FRANCO-ITALIAN PROJECT: French business daily La Tribune reports the Swedish government will purchase a new air defense system from the U.S. rather than from the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium. Reuters reports Istanbul signed a letter of intent with Eurosam during this week’s NATO ministerial summit in Brussels.


FRANCE — READY FOR THE ‘GRANDE MARCHE’: French President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en March party launched an online consultation to give supporters an opportunity to decide its policy positions ahead of the 2019 European elections.

HUNGARY — GOVERNMENT WON’T RESPOND TO COMMISSION NGO QUESTIONS: The Hungarian government said it will not meet a one-month deadline to respond to the Commission’s infringement procedure on whether its NGO funding bill complies with EU law. Budapest claims the deadline is “unreasonably short.”

MALTA — MYSTERIOUS PROFESSOR MIFSUD ‘VANISHES’: Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor and former chief of staff to a Nationalist foreign minister, who allegedly told Trump campaign officials that Moscow had dirt on Hillary Clinton, has vanished, according to CNNBuzzFeed and EU blogger Jon Worth on Mifsud’s many mysterious actions.

As ‘Putin’s niece’ is named: U.S. investigators have named the mysterious Russian woman who offered to help broker meetings between former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and Kremlin officials: Olga Vinogradova.

SPAIN — CATALAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER FACES €150,000 BAIL OR JAIL: Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena has set bail at €150,000 for Carme Forcadell, reports EFE.

UK — JOHNSON UNDER RENEWED PRESSURE OVER IRAN: Iranian state TV claimed U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had “confessed” that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe trained journalists in the country. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Penny Mordaunt, a Brexit supporter, to be Britain’s new international development secretary.


No talks, no progress on Brexit financial settlement: It’s the subject of much media speculation, but according to a senior EU official involved in the Brexit process, there has been no substantive discussion on the money question up to this round of Brexit talks since Theresa May’s Florence speech September 22. David Herszenhorn and Charlie Cooper explain. The FT reports a counter-view that May could be ready to pay up.

What to expect today: Michel Barnier and David Davis press conference at lunchtime.

Northern Ireland latest: The FT and the Telegraph report Ireland and Brussels are pushing for Northern Ireland to stay inside the EU’s single market and customs union, citing a leaked one-page paper in which the European Commission refers to an “all-island” approach after Brexit and states a divorce deal must respect “the integrity of the internal market and the customs union.” That idea is a political impossibility for Theresa May, particularly as she relies on the Democratic Unionist Party to maintain power.

Brexit half-time: Today marks the start of the second half of the Brexit process — Thursday was the mid-point between the U.K. 2016 referendum and Brexit day. h/t Joey D’Urso‏.

Brexit o’clock: The U.K. will officially Brexit at 11 p.m. on Friday, March 29, 2019. More details for POLITICO Brexit Pro subscribers.

BBC Radio series: Brexit: A guide for the perplexed, by former Europe editor Chris Morris, airs its last episode today. You can catch the full series at the link.

John Kerr speech: The former U.K. permanent representative to the EU and author of the famous Article 50 will today deliver a keynote speech organized by the pro-EU Open Britain in London. POLITICO Brexit Pros can read a preview of his speech here.


ASIA PACIFIC: The APEC summit kicks off in Da Nang, Vietnam today. It’s Donald Trump’s first visit to the country, after passing up an opportunity in the 1970s.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA — BALKAN PROGRESS ON THE LINE: Dubravka Šuica writes for POLITICO that if electoral reform doesn’t take hold in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country could unravel and the region face its greatest crisis since the mid-1990s.

MOLDOVA — DEFENSE MINISTER WANTS MORE US MILITARY AID: Moldova’s Defense Minister Eugen Sturza, appointed two weeks ago, says he wants to strengthen the country’s military, a move likely to upset Russia.

FYROM — NAME DISPUTE TALKS TO RESTART: Negotiators representing the governments of Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are set to meet to restart discussions over the latter’s name, which has roadblocked Skopje’s accession talks with the EU.