11-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

11-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, September 11, 2017

PM calls for quick end to review

With technical representatives of the country’s international creditors due back in the capital today, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday underlined the importance of Greece completing a third review of its latest bailout in the fall “with great speed.”

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221533/article/ekathimerini/news/pm-calls-for-quick-end-to-review

Eldorado Gold to suspend Greece operations; impasse with govt cited as reason

Mining giant Eldorado Gold announced on Monday that it will suspend its operations in Greece, following what it called three months of unsuccessful negotiations and talks with the relevant energy and environment ministry.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1274979/eldorado-gold-to-suspend-greece-operations-impasse-with-govt-cited-as-reason

Stournaras backs calls for eurozone integration

Greece’s central banker said on Saturday that the eurozone should be reformed and equipped with efficient tools to counter future economic crises, echoing recent calls for a reshape of the euro currency block.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221530/article/ekathimerini/business/stournaras-backs-calls-for-eurozone-integration

Regling: If Greece continues reforms, EZ members ready to consider more debt relief

It was ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling’s turn on Saturday to repeat European creditors’ constant message to Athens, namely: keep implementing agreed to reforms and debt relief is on the table.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1274686/regling-if-greece-continues-reforms-ez-members-ready-to-consider-more-debt-relief

Troika technical staff due back in Athens on Monday

Technical teams representing Greece’s international creditors are expected to return to Athens on Monday for talks on outstanding reforms that will pave the way for the return of mission chiefs next month ahead of the next bailout review.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221520/article/ekathimerini/business/troika-technical-staff-due-back-in-athens-on-monday

Gov’t aims to integrate up to 30,000 migrants

Authorities are preparing measures to integrate between 25,000-30,000 asylum seekers who are not entitled to relocation under the existing European Union program, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has said.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221522/article/ekathimerini/news/govt-aims-to-integrate-up-to-30000-migrants

Alarm bells over trade deficit

The trade deficit is showing an alarming trend upwards, with negative consequences on Greece’s external debt and gross domestic product.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221509/article/ekathimerini/business/alarm-bells-over-trade-deficit

China Development Bank MoC with Greece’s Public Power Corp.

The head of China Development Bank (CDB), Wang Jining, on Saturday signed a MoC with the president of Greece’s state-run power utility, the Public Power Corp. (PPC), Emmanuil Panagiotakis, on the sidelines of an investment conference at a Thessaloniki trade exhibition.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1274721/china-development-bank-moc-with-greeces-public-power-corp

ATHEX: Benchmark slides 2 pct for the week

Bank stocks at the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) continued heading south at the end of the week, extending the weekly losses of the benchmark and taking it close to the 800-point mark, while also illustrating that the market was unimpressed by the hype over French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221496/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-benchmark-slides-2-pct-for-the-week

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: The government rolls out red carpets to investors but undermines investments

TO VIMA: Elections rehearsal at the International Fair of Thessaloniki

REAL NEWS: The 24 thorns of the bailout programme review

PROTO THEMA: Marc poll: New Democracy may form a single-party government while SYRIZA polls slightly better

AVGI: Alongside the new generation we will enter a new era. PM Tsipras talks about Greece’s next day at the International Fair of Thessaloniki

RIZOSPASTIS: Their ‘growth’ is shattering our lives – Counter-attack is our choice!

MONDAY PAPERS

TA NEA: Trade of hope by the PM at Thessaloniki’s International Fair

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: PM Tsipras: “We will succeed where everybody else failed”

KONTRA NEWS: The Memorandum era comes to an end

DIMOKRATIA: PM Tsipras announced two more years of sacrifices at Thessaloniki’s International Fair

NAFTEMPORIKI: PM makes three promises: Focus on investments, swift closing of bailout programme review, tax alleviation

This week is about European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the European Union (SOTEU) speech, for the Brussels EU bubble at least. It’s the closest the EU gets to delivering scripted political theater (the unscripted kind at 3 a.m. emergency summits is more common). The speech has practical effects for tens of thousands of civil servants: it will set out the Commission’s plans for 2018 — the last full year of Juncker’s presidency — and be immediately followed by a flurry of proposed legislation.

Brussels is amusing itself in the meantime: Bojan Pancevski reports Martin Selmayr, Juncker’s chief of staff, told Peter Müller, Europe editor of Der Spiegel, that “Arseholes do arsehole journalism,” and threatened to smack him. Müller had noted in an article that Selmayr rejected a call from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras while being interviewed.

NORWAY VOTES: In a two-day parliamentary election that began Sunday and ends at 8 p.m. Brussels time today, the center right led by Prime Minister Erna Solberg and the center left are running neck-and-neck. Reuters | The Guardian’s one-minute guide

Playbook interviewed Prime Minister Solberg earlier this summer for the EU Confidential podcast.

SOTEU — GET READY TO #ASKJUNCKER: The European Commission president will face questions from youths September 14, the day after his State of the Union speech to the European Parliament. The interview, arranged by Euronews and Debating Europe, will be moderated by Euronews’ Isabelle Kumar. Questions can be posted on Twitter with the tag #AskJuncker.

SOTEU — JUNCKER TO DITCH INVESTMENT PROTECTION: Juncker wants to drop bilateral investment protection in new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand and instead push for a multilateral investment court, reports Hans von der Burchard. This would allow trade talks with Canberra and Wellington under a new fast-track approach, with investor-state disputes left for resolution at a global level. More for POLITICO Pro Trade subscribers here.

COUNCIL — MERKEL SAYS COHERENT FOREIGN POLICY EU’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Forget migration or eurozone integration, it’s the EU sticking to a credible line on foreign policy that worries the German chancellor most, according to an interview published Sunday in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

COUNCIL — UPDATE ON EU-CELAC SUMMIT: Playbook previously reported the October 26-27 summit was set to be postponed over frustrations many Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) member countries have over Venezuela leader Nicolás Maduro. Playbook’s Latin American diplomatic source says that though no official decision has been taken, “hotels, and other logistics have been canceled in San Salvador,” the designated host city, indicating the summit’s postponement.

COUNCIL — EU TO WAIT FOR UN ON NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS: Playbook’s source inside the foreign ministers meeting in Estonia late last week said: “The EU will wait for the developments in the U.N. General Assembly. If the sanctions are too weak, EU is ready to go further and adopt even stricter sanctions.” Angela Merkel called over the weekend for a diplomatic solution modeled on the 2015 Iran crisis. If the U.N. does not impose additional sanctions on North Korea, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he has an executive order ready that would impose penalties on any country that trades with Pyongyang.

COUNCIL — DEVELOPMENT MINISTERS MEET IN TALLINN: It’s the third (and final) day of the informal Foreign Affairs Council in Tallinn (agenda here). Development ministers will discuss how to move beyond providing financial aid to middle-income countries, how to encourage better cooperation between humanitarian aid and development activities and discuss over dinner the recently signed off External Investment Plan — expected to encourage €44 billion of private investment in Africa by 2020.

Unhappy activists: NGOs voiced a raft of complaints as ministers meet. Fanny Voitzwinkler, head of the EU office of Global Health Advocates, said the EU is repurposing as development aid money for quick-fix deals to limit migration to Europe via the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. “The EU Trust Fund is first-and-foremost a political communication tool,” she said.

Meanwhile the ONE campaign launches a new website today dedicated to “financing for the African century.” The report analyzes aid, domestic resources and private finance flows to Africa, and shows the EU as the world’s largest donor (€73.35 billion in 2016) but with the balance of spending changing. Germany and Italy, for example, spend more aid money on in-country refugee costs at home than they do in aid to Africa.

PARLIAMENT — ONCE ASCENDENT, EUROSKEPTICS IN DISARRAY: They fight “Brussels” from within and seemed to be permanently rising until 2017. Now it’s getting messy for the European Parliament’s 150 or so Euroskeptics, reports Maïa de la Baume. More often than not, their problems are corruption related.

In the latest blow, Ludovic de Danne, the secretary-general of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), one of the two main anti-EU groups in Parliament, was dismissed on Wednesday. The other main anti-EU group of MEPs, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD), now stands to lose 20 of its members from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) when Britain leaves the EU in 2019.

It’s not all bad news: the populist Alternative for Germany party is expected to win seats in Germany’s parliamentary election later this month and in Austria, the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) will make a strong showing in October elections.

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT …

Transnational MEPs: The Committee on Constitutional Affairs will discuss proposals to reduce the number of MEPs to 700 after the next election, keeping the remaining 51 in reserve for a possible pan-EU list of parliamentarians. Read the draft report here by MEPs Danuta Hübner and Pedro Silva Pereira and watch live here from 7:30 p.m.

Transparency: Sven Giegold, a Greens MEP, will give a short presentation on his report on transparency and ethics in the European institutions, including a call for an independent panel to investigate alleged ethics violations by former commissioners. Full agenda here. Watch the debates live here from 5 p.m.

PARLIAMENT’S WATERGATE: Playbook reported Saturday on a new supplier of bottled water in the European Parliament in Brussels: Italy’s Dolomia has replaced Belgium’s Chaudfontaine. A spokeswoman for the Parliament insisted European President Antonio Tajani (from Italy) had nothing to do with the change, which she said was a decision of Parliament’s catering contractors.

EUROGROUP — SLOVAKIA’S KAŽIMÍR POSITIONS FOR EUROGROUP PRESIDENT: In a gala dinner keynote speech Thursday to Bruegel, now available online, Peter Kažimír, Slovakia’s finance minister, called out “integration fatigue” and argued for serious eurozone governance reform starting with “fiscal capacity.”

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — WITH YANIS VAROUFAKIS

The outspoken Greek economist and former finance minister spoke to POLITICO’s Quentin Ariès before presenting at the “Real State of the Union” event at Brussels’ BOZAR culture center Saturday.

On the EU’s trajectory: Varoufakis believes the EU is at an advanced stage of disintegration and degeneration.

German elections: “German citizens, understandably, feel a sense of success or relief that they are not Greece, the United States or France. But as a Greek I have to tell you that the last time I saw such a false sense of security and complacency was in Greece in the early 2000s.”

Macron’s labor reforms: Varoufakis believes Macron will, mistakenly, “Germanize” the French labor market and cut the budget with austerity measures.

On Brexit: “My advice to Jeremy Corbyn — and Theresa May as well — is that negotiations with Michel Barnier must be ended. He does not have the mandate to negotiate the things London wants.”

Concrete solutions to fix Europe: “Instead of a common budget, give the green light to the European Investment Bank (EIB) to invest 5 percent of the euro area’s GDP. Allow the EIB to issue its own bonds and have [European Central Bank President] Mario Draghi announce he will buy those bonds.”

The full interview will be online shortly.

HUNGARY AND THE EU — A SHIFT IN RHETORIC: If you don’t speak Hungarian you may have missed this: Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán softened his aggressive rhetoric against Brussels in an appearance on local radio Friday. The shift was covered by anti-Orbán blogger Eva S. Balogh.

Orbán acknowledged the verdict of the EU’s highest court rejecting his appeal against EU migration policy must be respected and categorically ruled out Hungary heading for the EU exit door. “The Hungarian people decided after a referendum to join the European Union. That decision was a correct one. No political decision can overwrite that decision.”

Journalists denounced: POLITICO contributor Lili Bayer and seven other journalists were denounced as propagandists by Orbán-friendly Hungarian news site 888.hu. More from AFP | Le Monde | Council of Europe  

OSCE — EUROPE’S LARGEST HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE KICKS OFF: Some 1,500 activists, human rights defenders and senior officials from 57 countries meet in Warsaw this week, hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

On today’s agenda: Keynote by Austrian Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chairman Sebastian Kurz; remarks by Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski and sessions on media freedom, journalist safety, combating hate speech and countering disinformation led by France’s Harlem Désir, the OSCE’s newly appointed representative on media freedom.

CATALAN CORNER …

Catalonia celebrates its national day today. Here’s how Catalan secessionists became noted champions of peaceful mobilization.

What Spain has to lose with Catalan independence: Arnau Busquets catalogues the consequences for Spain if Catalonia leaves. The chief numbers issues: the restive region makes up only 6 percent of Spain’s territory but a quarter of economic output.

GERMAN ELECTION CORNER 

Nearly 8 million adult residents left without a vote: Germany has tight laws about who can cast a ballot. Deutsche Welle explains.

New AfD controversy: leader alleged to have called for ‘genetic unity’ in Germany. Alice Weidel, previously seen as a more moderate voice in the far-right Alternative for Germany party, was accused by Die Welt of describing immigrants as “non-people” and calling for “genetic unity” in a 2013 email.

CZECH REPUBLIC — RECONNECTING WITH ‘PORK AND CABBAGE’ VOTERS: The greatest challenge the center-left faces everywhere in Europe is how to keep its core connection with working-class voters. The flashpoint issue highlighting this difficulty is, no surprise, migration, Siegfried Mortkowitz reports. The Czech Republic’s ruling Social Democrats are attempting to revitalize their brand ahead of October’s election by taking more populist positions.

BREXIT 360 …

40 Brexit troublemakers to watch: Annabelle Dixon identifies the 40 people who will frustrate their party chiefs the most, from Ken Clarke — the only Tory to vote against the triggering of Article 50, to former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. Here’s the full list of 40.

Betting the house — The inside story of the 2017 election: POLITICO’s Tom McTague and Bloomberg’s Tim Ross have a new book out this week picking over the ashes of the U.K.’s snap election in June.

When it comes to Brexit progress, what counts as ‘sufficient’? Charlie Cooper explains.

Labour tells government to drop EU Repeal Bill.

Post-Brexit customs costs for business could hit £9 billion, according to a new report from the Institute for Government think tank.

Brexit bank run: John O’Donnell reveals bank regulators went on an expensive hiring spree before Brexit, competing with each other to hire risk specialists.

Tony Blair — migration policy gymnast: Announcing a series of his own position papers, former British PM Tony Blair ‪says the U.K. could restrict immigration without going through with Brexit.

ICYMI: Deputy EU Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand tweeted her enthusiasm for a BBC radio broadcast explaining that the EU considers a U.K. trade deal important, but much less so than protecting the integrity of the EU single market. Guest included Pascal Lamy, former European commissioner and WTO director general, former Polish Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski and Daniela Schwarzer, the head of the German Council on Foreign Relations.

THE EX-FILES — HILLARY CLINTON’S EUROPEAN BOOK TOUR: Hillary Clinton will make an appearance at the Southbank Centre as part of this year’s London Literature Festival.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

NEW DELHAIZE CEO: L’echo reports Frenchman Xavier Piesvaux will today replace Denis Knoops as CEO of retail group Delhaize for Belgium and Luxembourg.