13-11-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

13-11-2018 | EYE ON GREECE |

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pension cuts to be discussed at Thursday’s EWG

As negotiations with the European institutions on the measures that will be included in the 2019 budget enter the final stretch, the two sides aim to reach a consensus on whether to slash pensions further in 2019 by Thursday, when the EuroWorking Group (EWG) will be held, according to state-run news agency ANA-MPA.


Bomb squad defuses device planted outside Athens home of judicial official

Bomb disposal experts defused an explosive device placed outside the Athens home of a deputy prosecutor in the early hours of Tuesday after a warning was called in.


Vulnerable refugees’ transfer to Greek mainland continues

More than 600 asylum seekers have been moved from Samos, Lesvos, Chios and Kos to the mainland since Saturday, as part of the Migration Policy Ministry’s ongoing operation to ease overcrowding on the islands ahead of winter.


ND says irredentism endures in FYROM’s constitution

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) took another step at the weekend toward ratifying the name deal with Greece, as the Commission for Constitutional Affairs approved the draft amendments to the country’s constitution to change its name to North Macedonia.


Violence at Athens court complex involving self-styled anti-state activists

Three police officers were slightly injured on Monday at the Athens first instance court complex during an unprecedented scuffle involving up to 50 self-styled anti-state activists, on the sidelines of a court trial related to arrests dating back to 2012.


Thessaloniki bishop: Church-state deal will not get Holy Synod approval

Outspoken Thessaloniki Bishop Anthimos on Monday described a tentative agreement between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Archbishop Ieronymos “divisive” and said it would not be approved by the Holy Synod.


Wood: Risks and solutions for Greek banking system

Wood & Company this week reminded that there’s “no magic wand” in dealing with the Greek banking system’s problems, such as clearing NPLs and replenishing deferred tax credits following a recent field trip to Athens by the multinational investment bank’s experts and after a “mini crash” of the banking index at the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in early October 2018.


ATHEX: Stocks decline ahead of new MSCI indexes

As the market awaits the formal announcement of the new composition of the MSCI stock indexes on Tuesday, pressure on most blue chips – especially those in the credit sector – led the benchmark at Athinon Avenue lower on Monday, with turnover climbing above 50 million euros.







KATHIMERINI:  Explosive climate within the Church

ETHNOS:  Agony regarding retrospective payments and pensions

TA NEA:  Industry of lawsuits: Golden business with retrospective payments

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON:  New Democracy leader Mitsotakis shot his foot in Piraeus

AVGI:  Fake news against government policies last only a few hours

RIZOSPASTIS:  Tsipras in Paris ‘whitewashed’ the EU and those preparing imperialistic interventions and wars

KONTRA NEWS:  Bishops and New Democracy are hypocrites

DIMOKRATIA:  Shame! Education Minister Gavroglou ‘expels’ historic figure Pavlos Melas from the education system

NAFTEMPORIKI:  Contributions for 250,000 businessmen drop at 13,3%

Quo vadis, Europa? Angela Merkel is expected in Strasbourg this afternoon with the answers. The German leader is due to address European Parliament at 3 p.m. on the future of Europe. We’ll have full coverage as the chancellor’s speech unfolds (and of the debate afterwards).

GOOD MORNING FROM BERLIN! I’m Matt Karnitschnig, POLITICO’s chief Europe correspondent, sitting in for Meister Eder, who reports the fall foliage is spectacular in western Bohemia this year. If you want to get in touch with yours truly, if only to vent, feel free to email or tweet.


IS THIS THE END(GAME)? Theresa May is running out of runway. The British prime minister has only a few hours left to cinch a deal with the EU so Brussels can call a special summit this month to keep the U.K. from crashing into the abyss. As May put it late Monday, we’ve reached the “endgame.”

Seriously? Not really. After all, this is Europe we’re talking about, home of the last-minute surprise with a fudge topping at no extra charge. If we had a shilling for every time someone raised the specter of a no-deal Brexit … let’s just say we wouldn’t be doing what we’s doin’. Yet here we are. Which isn’t to say everything is tickety-boo. Just that a deal with the EU isn’t May’s biggest problem. It’s hers for the taking. The real question is how on earth is she going to get any deal through her fractious Cabinet and parliament? Confused? Join the club. Thank God the Telegraph’s Peter Foster has put together a nifty explainer to help us navigate the maze.

Oh, they got stamina: The most impressive thing about this week’s Brexit talks might be the stamina of the negotiators, who’ve reportedly been burning the midnight oil until “2:45 a.m.” (Who knew the Irish border could be so compelling?) The result of the nocturnal Brexit talks: “Substantial issues still to overcome,” say the bureaucrats. Or, as Boris Johnson’s kid brother put it in the Times, “This is a push-me, pull-you beast — think of a spangly unicorn with a head at each end of its body.” And let’s be honest, how can you not think of spangly unicorns when it comes to Brexit? If only we knew where that leaves the lion.

INCOMING: The College of Commissioners is due to consider no-deal Brexit contingency plans during today’s meeting in Strasbourg. According to the agenda, the commissioners will discuss “preparing for a withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union March 30, 2019: An emergency response plan.”

BRITAIN’S CHEMICAL CATCH-22: Europe sets the world standard when it comes to chemical safety — which is going to be a big problem for the U.K., reports Ginger Hervey.

BREXIT PLAYBOOK: Read POLITICO’s guide to how Brexit will play out in 11 key EU countries, including Ireland, Germany, Poland and Hungary.


SEEHOFER WATCH: In the latest twist in the long-running will-he-won’t-he saga involving embattled German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, he confirmed on Monday that he would step down as leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, some time in the near future. But Seehofer also said that he intends to stay on as interior minister. For now, at least …

AFD WATCH: Alice Weidel, co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Bundestag, has become ensnared in a party financing scandal involving about €130,000 in payments to her local party chapter by a Swiss pharmaceutical maker during the final months of last year’s federal election campaign. The AfD paid the money back several months later, but under German campaign finance rules, donations from non-Germans outside the EU are not allowed. SPD officials called for Weidel’s resignation but she said she did nothing wrong and has no intention of stepping down. Full report in German.

The AfD’s other leader in parliament, Alexander Gauland, made headlines of his own by suggesting that German leaders shouldn’t have “rewritten history” by participating in Sunday’s WWI commemoration in Paris “and walking through the Arc de Triomphe with Mr. Macron.” Though some took offense, the remarks were mild compared to Gauland’s suggestion earlier in the year that “Hitler and the Nazis were little more than birdshit in more than one thousand years of successful German history.” German prosecutors investigating the comments, which he made during a meeting of the AfD’s youth wing, ruled Monday that they didn’t meet the standard for incitement of racial hatred.

Meanwhile in Austria … some members of the far-right Freedom Party, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s junior coalition partner, don’t even bother disguising their true sympathies, according to local media. While much of the rest of Europe was commemorating the centenary of the armistice that ended the Great War on Sunday, Freedom Party officials joined neo-Nazis and some uniformed Austrian army veterans to celebrate the achievements of Nazi flying ace Walter Nowotny at his Vienna grave.

GREEN CLARIFICATION: Our Monday report on the doings at the German Green convention in Leipzig drew a strong response from some in the party. Some Green delegates took issue with our description of the plight of Welsh candidate Jon Worth. They said the party’s decision to reject the blogger had less to do with his Britishness and more with his public feud with other party members (including European Green leader Reinhard Bütikofer), whom he recently attacked on social media for their votes on copyright legislation.


TALKING TRADE WITH THE DONALD ‘IS NO FUN.’ That’s what European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told an audience in Berlin on Monday. Juncker recounted how in July he spent “six hours with Trump” discussing trade. “It was a very competitive event, pretty rough from time to time, it was no fun, no entertainment, but … there is no new trade war between the U.S. and Europe. Two days before he [Trump] still said he would do that [slap tariffs on imports of European cars], but thank goodness he didn’t do that.” Not yet, anyway.

ECR SPITZEN COMING TODAY: This evening the European Conservatives and Reformists group will vote on Czech MEP Jan Zahradil’s Spitzenkandidat candidacy.

TWEET DU JOUR: “When I said that Poles can also today defeat modern Bolsheviks, everyone thought that it was about PiS. Even PiS thought so. But this was just about Bolsheviks and nobody else,” tweeted European Council President Donald Tusk. (h/t Michał Broniatowski)

ITALIAN BUDGET D-DAY: The Italian government is due to answer the European Commission’s requests to rework its draft budgetary plan for 2019. Nobody expects big changes on Rome’s part. Last week, the Commission published figures that were very far from Rome’s own forecasts, and on Monday, Italy’s Parliamentary Budget Office (UPB) said during a hearing before the lower house budget committee in Rome that it believes the actual growth figures “will end up being lower than the government’s forecasts but slightly higher than the Commission’s.” The UPB official also said it forecasts a 2.6-percent deficit for 2019, which is higher than the government’s planned 2.4 percent and lower than the Commission’s 2.9 percent. However, one person familiar with the government’s thinking said Finance Minister Giovanni Tria and the other Cabinet members expect Brussels to propose an excessive deficit procedure at this point but ultimately believe they can avoid the sanction. Bottom line: The standoff between Rome and Brussels is nowhere near resolution.

OPINION — ITALY’S BEGGAR NATIONALISM: Alberto Mingardi of Istituto Bruno Leoni in Milan writes in an op-ed for POLITICO that Italy’s populist government’s budget relies on other countries being ready to bail it out.

ITALY HEARTS CHINA: Beijing appears to have found a heavyweight new ally in EU trade affairs: Italy. On Friday, Rome’s new undersecretary for economic affairs, Michele Geraci, suggested the EU should soften its proposed legislation on screening major Chinese investments in strategic European sectors, reports Jakob Hanke for POLITICO Trade Pros. “Germany and France have been leading proponents of a tougher framework to stop China from acquiring what they see as the crown jewels of European industry, such as robotics companies. Until recently, Italy also supported cast-iron defenses against China, but it is now tempering its position. Under continual pressure from Brussels over its debt levels and public finances, Rome is increasingly looking eastwards for investment.”

MACRON’S ARMS CONTROL DEAL FOR CYBER WARFARE: French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Monday that “enemies of liberty” have taken control of the internet, and issued an international call to limit hostile activity in cyberspace, laying out rules that would act as a form of “arms control” for the digital age, report Laurens Cerulus and Mark Scott.