13-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

13-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gennimata, Androulakis head for center-left leader election runoff

PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata secured a clear advantage at the first round of elections for a leader to the new center-left party on Sunday, but will have to contest a runoff with runner-up Nikos Androulakis a week later, while voter turnout exceeded expectations.


ND chief aims to change EU minds about Greece

Greek opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be meeting with European officials Monday and Tuesday with the aim of changing the stereotypical idea that Greece is an unreformable country and, at the same time, outlining his conservative party’s blueprint for rebuilding the crisis-wracked economy.


Metro and OSE workers to ramp up protests

Commuters in the Greek capital are in for another week of travel disruption as workers on the Athens metro have said they will make good on their threats to ramp up protest action unless the government scraps its plans to privatize operating firm STASY.


Greece’s middle incomes go under knife

The disposable income of Greece’s average earners has been slashed by more than 50 percent due to overtaxation in recent years, according to the latest data examined by Kathimerini, which also paints a grim picture for the coming years.


Full-time jobs continue to dry up in October

The Labor Ministry’s Ergani database registered 98,420 more departures than hirings in October, while flexible forms of labor saw their share soar to five out of eight new jobs.


Lamda Development: Helleniko privatization impossible amid continuous hurdles placed by state

Athens-based Lamda Development, the lead partner in a consortium that has won a major real estate development concession, on Friday officially made its displeasure known over what it calls a “practice of continually placing obstacles” before the investment.


ATHEX: Eight-month low for bank stocks index

Greek stocks continued to slide for a fifth consecutive session on Friday (the first drop of such a long duration in 17 months), with the banks index slumping to its lowest point in eight months and blue chip Lamda Development also falling for a fifth straight session on concerns over Elliniko.








KATHIMERINI: Data prove the annihilation of middle-incomes

TO VIMA: [Defense Minister] Kammenos places mines in the path of Tsipras by becoming an instability factor for the government

REAL NEWS: Probe into offshore company owned by the brother of former PM Kostas Simitis

PROTO THEMA: The ‘criminal’ law that facilitated the release of 3,000 long-term convicts

AVGI: No more tolerance for luxurious bad-debtors

RIZOSPASTIS: Anti-popular policies mirror a wretched system that cannot be cured


ETHNOS: Bull’s-eye for [PASOK leader] Fofi Gennimata

TA NEA: The voice of the people. The democratic line-up is making a come-back

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Duel under the green sun

KONTRA NEWS: Ex PM involved in money laundering case involving an offshore company owned by a close associate of his

DIMOKRATIA: The attempt to create a ‘new’ PASOK resulted in a fiasco

NAFTEMPORIKI: The hurdles undermining the development of [the old Athens airport at] Helleniko for the past 22 years

SLOVENIA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION — INSTAGRAM KING BEATS ACTOR MAYOR: The incumbent Borut Pahor narrowly beat challenger Marjan Šarec in Slovenia’s presidential election. Pahor scored about 53 percent of the vote, Deutsche Welle reports, on the back of a record low turnout of 37.5 percent.

REMEMBERING THE PARIS ATTACKS 2 YEARS ON: French President Emmanuel Macron and his predecessor François Hollande will today attend ceremonies near the sites of the November 2015 attacks, reports RTL. Julian King, the European commissioner for the security union, will also attend.


COUNCIL — FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTERS MEET: The big news today in Brussels is more than 20 EU countries will sign-up for permanent structured cooperation, dubbed PESCO, on defense issues. Foreign affairs ministers are also expected to discuss the situation in Myanmar, High Representative Federica Mogherini’s lobbying trip to the U.S. on the Iran deal, and preparation for the EU-African Union summit in the Ivory Coast later this month. Background and other agenda items here.

Rohingya activist in Brussels: Online group Avaaz is bringing Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organization U.K., to Brussels with hopes of meeting Mogherini and EU foreign ministers. The ministers suggested October 16 that if the Rohingya situation didn’t improve, “additional measures” would be considered. Khin will address U.K. MPs Tuesday.

COMMISSION — SLOWDOWN IN MERGER DECISION DRIVES UP COST OF DEALS: Gaspar Sebag for Bloomberg writes that EU regulators are “stopping the clock” on strict merger decision timelines six times as often these days, compared to previous Commissions. Examples include proposed mergers between Bayer and Monsanto, Dow and DuPont and Qualcomm and NXP.

QUOTABLE: “Multi-speed Europe is a distraction and a waste of time,” according to Paweł Świeboda, deputy head of the European Political Strategy Center, the Commission’s in-house think tank.

COMMISSIONERS ON TOUR: Miguel Arias Cañete and Valdis Dombrovskis are in Bonn for the COP23 climate conference (and, as Sara Stefanini writes, the world keeps warming as negotiators talk). Günther Oettinger is back on his home hunting ground meeting the German state government of Baden-Württemberg. Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for home affairs and migration, is in the Swiss capital Bern today to meet the country’s leaders and attend the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean contact group on migration with several EU migration ministers, the U.N.’s refugee agency UNHCR and top officials from Chad, Tunisia, Mali, Niger and Algeria.


PARLIAMENT — MALTA THE NEW POLAND AND HUNGARY? The European Peoples’ Party, the Greens, ALDE and the radical left GUE/NGL groups in European Parliament have lined up to attack the state of rule of law and press freedom in Malta in a draft resolution to be put to this week’s voting session. There are two ways to read the main resolution: 1) Europe’s parties are ganging up on a small Socialist government for political gain; or 2) Malta’s rule of law is on par with Poland and Hungary, and Socialist MEPs are in denial about it. Read the resolution here. Compare it with the center-left resolution, which is much softer on Malta’s Labour government, here.

PARLIAMENT — VERHOFSTADT’S STRUGGLE TO HERD HIS LIBERAL CATS: European liberals tend to be hard to whip into line, but it’s even harder when the issues dividing the group include Catalonia (featuring a shouting match between two ALDE MEPs, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells and Enrique Calvet Chambon) and how to handle Emmanuel Macron’s plans for a pan-EU centrist movement. Playbook’s Harry Cooper has the download.


PARTY PEOPLE — HUNGARIAN COMMISSIONER SORRY HIS PARTY COMRADES SAY HE’S A TRAITOR: Tibor Navracsics, the European commissioner from Hungary and former deputy prime minister, is “sorry” his Fidesz colleagues are calling him a traitor and told local TV he thinks the critics also know better.

PARTY PEOPLE: MEP Louis Michel, a former European commissioner and Belgian minister and father of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, will quit politics in 2019.


CLIMATE — SHADOW US DELEGATION GRABS SPOTLIGHT IN BONN: The U.S. isn’t used to parliamentary-style opposition politics, but the arrival of Donald Trump could change that if the COP23 global climate conference is anything to go by. The official U.S. delegation has been overshadowed by opponents of Trump, with their own hub and celebrity salespeople (hello, Arnold Schwarzenegger), making clear they too speak for at least parts of the government, report David Siders and Emily Holden.

EU in Bonn: Weekend work focused on the role of cities in making good on the Paris agreement. Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič co-chairs the Global Covenant of Mayors (nearly 7,500 of them) with Mike Bloomberg, ex-mayor of New York City. They have a new report on how cities can cut 1.3 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year by 2030, more than today’s annual emissions of Japan.

TRADE — TRUDEAU UNDERCUTS PLAN TO REVIVE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau refused to join a re-launch event at the APEC summit Friday.

MIGRATION — BY THE NUMBERS: ICYMI, German paper Der Tagesspiegel published a list of 33,293 people it calculated had died while trying to immigrate to Europe.


After Bulgaria’s Cabinet toured Brussels Wednesday, EU Minister Lilyana Pavlova stayed behind for detailed planning. Pavlova, 39, is minister for the 2018 Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and she spoke to Playbook Friday afternoon. The presidency slogan is “United we stand strong,” a twist on the Bulgarian motto and coat of arms. Pavlova delivered an enthusiastically pro-EU message and expects Bulgaria will be left with a “really huge number” of dossiers on which to find compromise with the Commission and Parliament when it takes over in January.

The four pillars of the Bulgarian presidency plans are …

Future of Europe: A focus on young people and the next long-term EU budget. On Brexit she said: “We hope very much that most of the decisions will be taken by the end of 2017. If not we are ready to take over.”

Security and stability: “We are really keen on compromise whenever needed. We want common decisions, whether border control or defense union, and application of PESCO.”

European perspective and connectivity for Western Balkans: “We want to be a Balkan presidency because we know the area so well. We are not going to give any false expectations to our friends in the Western Balkans, but we are going to put it high on the agenda.” Think rail, road, air, digital, education and financial connectivity.

Digital: Digital Single Market and skills, whether copyright, cybersecurity, telecoms or ePrivacy.


UK — CABINET THREAT TO MAY GROWS: The Sunday Times reports 40 MPs are ready to push out Theresa May. According to the Mail on Sunday, the PM’s deposed 2016 challengers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are teaming up on an alternative Brexit strategy. This morning a rising star of the party, Johnny Mercer MP, told the Telegraph May is becoming toxic for the ruling party.

UK ANNIVERSARY — PAUL DACRE’S 25 YEARS AS DAILY MAIL EDITOR: He is both loved and loathed. Prime Minister Theresa May was the star guest at a gala dinner in his honor Sunday night.

WHAT ITALIANS ARE WORRIED ABOUT — 2018 WORLD CUP: Italy is in a state of “high tension” before a crucial Sweden World Cup play-off, reports the Guardian. If Italy loses, it will fail to reach the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

BIG IN HOLLAND: A quarter of Dutch people live below sea level. Now Dutch flood experts are becoming a global export powerhouse, according to AP.

HUNGARY — RULING FIDESZ PARTY CONGRESS: After being unanimously re-elected Fidesz president with the votes of 1,358 delegates, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán said in a speech the most important link between people is the nation, and that Hungary can be proud to stand tall and not as a reduced “homo Brusselicus.”

Over the top: Speakers at the party congress were flanked by not one or two, but 23 Hungarian flags.

Top quotes …

Ex-President Pál Schmitt: “[Orbán] will be 70 in 2032, but according to a weekly [magazine], he will still be in power.” He went on to say Orbán is already preparing to host the Summer Olympics in 2032, after Hungary’s 2024 bid fell over in the face of opposition from Budapest residents.

Speaker László Kövér: “Liberal democracy is a totalitarian political system.”

Lajos Kósa, minister without portfolio: “Hungary is one of the most successful nations on Earth.”

Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár: “It’s better to have a Verhofstadt fit today than forced settlements [of refugees] tomorrow.”

HUNGARY IN HOT WATER IN WASHINGTON DC: Hungary’s DC lobbyist, former Republican Congressman Connie Mack, in documents he is required to share with the U.S. government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which keeps tabs on those working for foreign interests, highlighted alleged connections between U.S. National Security Council member Fiona Hill and George Soros, Budapest’s favorite bogeyman. Hill has a good reputation among European governments, who are unlikely to welcome any Hungarian attempt to weaken her.

Real news: The U.S. State Department has launched a new $700,000 tender to support objective media in Hungary, due to what it sees as a lack of “fact-based reporting” in regional Hungary.

POLAND — WHITE NATIONALISTS STEAL INDEPENDENCE DAY SHOW: A rare moment of unity between Poland’s government and the country’s most powerful EU figure, European Council President Donald Tusk, at Poland’s independence day celebration, was overshadowed by 60,000 far-right protestors demanding a white Europe under a Christian god. POLITICO | AP


PUIGDEMONT WALKS AND TALKS: The deposed Catalan leader spoke to Le Soir’s Jurek Kuczkiewicz on a walk in a Flemish forest.

OPINION — SPAIN NEEDS A NEW CONSTITUTION TO SOLVE CATALAN ISSUE: Ignasi Ribó writes for POLITICO that given the current demographic and political conditions, neither the “Catalan Republic dreamed up by the independence movement nor the homogenous Spain envisioned by the unionists” can be achieved without violence, which each side says it rejects. Therefore, it’s time to development a new constitutional settlement.


Brexit Britain is in denial over immigration: Matthew Goodwin for POLITICO writes that concern about immigration was clearly the main driver behind Brexit, but the political debate has consistently failed to take this into account. And that could push voters to “mobilize and move into an even more radical political home that makes Nigel Farage and UKIP look like a fairly quirky brand of old school British conservatism.”

Labour: Theresa May lacks authority to close Brexit deal: “We have counted 14 Conservative MPs, including the foreign secretary, who have ruled out or rejected a transitional deal on the terms you have outlined,” the U.K.’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer wrote in a letter circulated to media, and May herself. “That is more MPs than the government’s working majority.”

David Davis on complexity: The U.K.’s Brexit secretary told a Sunday television program on Sky that Brexit negotiations are the most complex “in history.” If there hadn’t been a four-week break in negotiations up until November 9, Playbook might agree.

Chief scout Michel Barnier: The EU negotiator told France’s Le Journal du Dimanche that “everyone should prepare for the absence of a deal.” Be prepared!

Irish veto — not on the Brexit table yet: Ireland will not threaten to use a veto on Brexit talks “at this stage” over the lack of progress on the Irish border, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Sunday. That’s primarily because 26 EU countries agree with Varadkar, so a veto is unnecessary.


TRUMP VS. KIM: In a spat that hardly resembled dialogue between two nuclear-armed leaders, Trump tweeted Sunday: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!” More from POLITICO’s Andrew Restuccia, who is traveling with the U.S. president on his Asia trip.


BRUSSELS FOOTBALL RIOT: More than 300 people spent Saturday evening trashing parts of the city center after Morocco unexpectedly qualified for the 2018 Football World Cup, Le Soir reports. Cars and buses were set on fire, temporary fences around a Brussels metro construction project were mangled, and the police (22 of whom were injured) brought out water cannons and smoke grenades. Playbook, with a balcony view of the action, can attest it went on for two hours amid a chorus of car horns. Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said Sunday he is asking federal police to investigate.