12-11-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

12-11-2018 | EYE ON GREECE |

Monday, November 12, 2018

Govt to boost end-of-year liquidity via one-off welfare bonus, returning some pay cuts, covering arrears; GDP target eyed

The Tsipras government is reportedly banking on four initiatives over the last two months of 2018 to boost liquidity in Greece’s still feeble markets, and by extension, to raise end-of-year private consumption and guarantee that the GDP target for the year is met or exceeded.


Grexit plan was no bluff, French ex-president tells Kathimerini

Greece came very close to exiting the eurozone in the summer of 2015, former French president Francois Hollande has admitted in an interview with Kathimerini. Grexit was no bluff. It was, he says, a Plan B that had been drafted, at the behest of German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the decision by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to hold a referendum on Greece’s bailout terms.


Greek PM Tsipras attends Paris commemoration of WWI’s end

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Paris on Sunday for events to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I, an anniversary that brought together practically all of the West’s leaders.


Holy Synod to convene amid pique over church-state deal

Amid lingering skepticism within the ranks of the Church of Greece over a tentative agreement struck last week between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Archbishop Ieronymos to move 10,000 clerics off the state payroll and recognize the “religious neutrality” of the state, the Holy Synod is preparing for an emergency meeting on the subject on Friday.


Athens seeks answers from Tirana over decision to declare 52 Greek citizens as personae non gratae

Greece’s foreign ministry on Friday requested “valid clarifications” over Albanian authorities’ decision to declare 52 Greek citizens as “personae non gratae”, as fallout from the shootout death of an ethnic Greek man continued this week with his burial on Thursday in the southern Albania village where he died.


Stathakis wants state control of hydrocarbon rights recipient

Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has floated the idea of the state retaining majority or even full control of the company to which Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) will transfer the hydrocarbon surveying and utilization rights conceded to it. The initiative comes at a time when the tender for the sale of a 50.1 percent stake in the oil company to a strategic investor is generating fresh interest in the market.


Greek land registry enters final phase

The final phase of Greece’s much-anticipated land registry gets under way Monday, representing 63 percent of the country’s expanse, the company carrying out this monumental project, the National Cadastre & Mapping Agency, has announced.


ATHEX: Bourse week closes with gains of 3.9 pct

The main feature of the week’s last session at Athinon Avenue was very low trading volume – aside from prearranged packages – with a few buyers taking the benchmark’s weekly gains to almost 4 percent.








KATHIMERINI:  The forgotten middle class

TO VIMA:  PM Tsipras trades in hopes and votes

REAL NEWS:  Heavy criticism aimed at Archbishop Ieronymos [for his deal with the State]

PROTO THEMA:  PM Tsipras is making excessive pre-election pledges

AVGI:  History’s ghosts and the challenges for the Left


ETHNOS:  Retrospective cuts for debts owed to social security funds

TA NEA:  Berlin has spoken: Only low pensions will avoid slashing

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON:  All four of them were… wonderful

KONTRA NEWS:  Behold the person who is ‘blocking’ the investigation into the Novartis case

DIMOKRATIA:  Archbishop Ieronymos is hiding

NAFTEMPORIKI:  Heavy tax-agenda until the end of the year

Je suis chancelière Allemagne‘: It was a weekend of somber observance, full of poignant moments and soulful rhetoric. If only the rain hadn’t gotten in the way. But who better to save the day than Europe’s Commemorator-in-Chief, aka Angela Merkel, who took center stage at remembrance ceremonies in Berlin and Paris to remind us what Europe, peace, guilt and reconciliation are really all about? After last week’s disappointment over Merkel’s pending departure from the political stage, the weekend appearances of a leader widely seen as the anti-Trump were like catnip to her legions of groupies in the worlds of politics, media and beyond — a reaffirmation in their minds of why she’s the bee’s knees. As was to be expected, a certain American “friend” appeared less enthusiastic. And truth be told, he wasn’t the only one left underwhelmed.

GUTEN MORGEN EUROPA. I’m Matt Karnitschnig in Berlin, sitting in for Florian, who is taking the Bohemian waters this week on much-deserved Kur. We’ve got a busy day ahead with British and EU negotiators and the General Affairs Council talking Brexit in Brussels, as the rush to strike a divorce deal ratchets up another notch. But first, a quick recap of the weekend’s doings.

AU REVOIR TRUMP: POTUS took advantage of a break in the clouds and has departed the Continent. And no one is more relieved than Emmanuel Macron, who in between trolling Trump and profusely apologizing, pledged to make Europe’s military great again — with Made-in-the-EU hardware. And why not? If European countries are going to shell out untold billions to meet their NATO obligations, shouldn’t they buy European?

If only European countries would put their money where their mouth is. Truth is, for all the recent heavy breathing over building the vaunted “European Army,” it remains little more than a pipe dream. Which might explain why even Russian President Vladimir Putin likes the idea. Our own David Herszenhorn was on the front lines in Paris all weekend and filed this dispatch. Our White House colleague Nancy Cook has the story on why Trump was the odd man out this weekend. (Mixing up the Baltics and the Balkans couldn’t have helped).

GIMME A BREAK: For anyone overcome by the pathos of recent days, we recommend a healthy dose of Blackadder.


SEEHOFER WATCH: After weeks of speculation, it finally looks like CSU leader and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is prepared to step down from one or both posts. Seehofer’s epic clashes with Merkel over migration nearly triggered the government’s collapse over the summer and many conservatives blame him for their party’s lackluster showing in recent regional elections. Merkel’s own decision to step away from the leadership of her Christian Democrats appears to have made Seehofer’s decision easier. Or maybe not. As anyone who’s been following the saga can attest, this feels a lot like déjà vu.

GERMANY’S LITTLE GREEN (WO)MEN: It’s no secret Germany’s Greens are on a tear. After garnering just 8.9 percent of the vote in last year’s national election, a switch in leadership has propelled the party as high as 23 percent in recent polls. While one could argue about the sustainability of those figures — the Greens have been here before, only to crash down to earth — there’s no denying that the party’s feel-good message of ecology, equality and European unity is playing well. Especially, it turns out, for females. For the first time ever, the Greens overtook the center-right (CDU/CSU) among women in the benchmark Emnid poll this week, with 28 percent. That’s particularly worrying to Merkel’s bloc, which has long relied on the female vote to win elections.

Greens congress wrap: Amid the soaring poll ratings and a string of recent regional election gains, the Greens were in a celebratory mood at their party congress in Leipzig over the weekend. With an eye on the European election in May, where party leaders hope to double their 2014 result and crack the 20 percent threshold, delegates nominated a fresh slate of candidates, 20 women and 20 men. Ska Keller, currently co-leader of the Greens in the European Parliament, will lead the German list alongside Sven Giegold, another current MEP focused on economic and financial issues. Keller, who pledged to make fighting the rise of populism a priority, is a leading candidate to become the European Greens’ Spitzenkandidat as well.

Despite the recent criticism from France over the Spitzenkandidat system, don’t expect Germany’s Greens to back down from their insistence that the Commission’s next president come from the ranks of the lead candidates. German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer noted last week that his national party is now polling higher than Macron’s La République en Marche in France. Ouch!

A WORTHY CAMPAIGN: As excited as we at Playbook are about the impressive slate of ethnic Germans, or Biodeutsche as they’re now called, running for the European Parliament, we were more than disappointed to hear that Jon Worth, the lone Brexit refugee (and trainspotting blogger) in the race was sent home packing.

One of an illustrious line of Oxford PPE grads to devote themselves to saving the European project, this ardent Remainer (and early POLITICO fan) was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice by abandoning the Union Jack to wrap himself in Germany’s Schwarz-Rot-Gold.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Worth refused to take no for an answer, fighting until the 20th round — the last spot on the list that had even a remote chance of winning a seat. But in the end, Germany’s parochial “climate-nationalists” refused to forgive him his Britishness. Not even Worth’s bold promise to keep Europe’s night trains running was enough to convince Germany’s eco-warriors of his worthiness.

The system was rigged against him, he explained afterwards with a hint of Trumpian defiance, vowing to turn his back on a career in politics.

Too bad. Nonetheless, we tip our hats to a worthwhile effort, and take comfort in the knowledge our favorite blogger can now devote even more time to Europe’s rail stock, the Twittersphere and POLITICO.


SPANISH PM FOR SECOND VOTE: “If I was Theresa May, I would call a second referendum — no doubt,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in an interview with POLITICO’s Diego Torres and David Herszenhorn. “It’s true that we’re now on the verge of signing a transition deal … [but] I’d like to see the British government calling a second referendum. I don’t mean now, but in the future, so that it can come back to the EU. In another way, but back into the EU.” The Continent’s leaders have frequently expressed their regret that Brexit is happening, but they have for the most part avoided backing a second vote.

Businesses call for state bailouts if UK crashes out of EU: A no-deal Brexit could require U.K. government bailouts like those following the financial crisis to prevent businesses from going bankrupt, argue some in the industry. Charlie Cooper has more.


TROJAN HORSES: After years of dismissing the need for more digital rules, Big Tech now says it wants lawmakers to step in. But Mark Scott warns the public and politicians: “Don’t be fooled.”

CHINA GETS AI EDGE: Bruno Maçães travels to Shenzhen in China for his latest story in The Coming Wars series for POLITICO. He looks at how the developments China is making in artificial intelligence could define the future of the country — and with it the world.


FOLLOW-UP ON TRANSPARENCY FILE: In Friday’s Playbook, we reported that Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans had declined to meet negotiators from the Parliament and European Council to discuss better lobbying transparency, with Parliament negotiator Sylvie Guillaume upset about the resultant delay. The Commission got in touch to tell us it isn’t blocking anything, but merely waiting for others to move.

“Let’s be clear that it is not the Commission blocking, but the other institutions that are reluctant to commit to equally strict transparency rules,” Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said in an email. “The Commission has repeatedly stated that it will not settle for a superficial agreement where Parliament and Council agree on voluntary commitments only.”

As to why the Commission sought to postpone the meeting with Parliament and Council, Bertaud said: “The Parliament is in the middle of an internal discussion about whether to amend its own rules of procedure, which could ensure that MEPs only meet registered lobbyists. As a result, we have suggested to Parliament and Council to hold the next political meeting as soon as possible after the EP plenary vote. This will allow the three institutions to discuss in full knowledge of any potential advances on the EP side.”

MEA CULPA: In Friday’s Playbook, we garbled a quote from Donald Tusk at last week’s EPP Congress. He actually said: “If you support Putin and attack Ukraine, if you are in favor of the aggressor and against the victim, you are not a Christian Democrat.”