13-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

13-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nimetz sees name deal in 2018

United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz said Tuesday that the decades-old name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) “can and must be resolved next year.”


Greece reaffirms commitment to Paris climate accord

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reaffirmed Greece’s commitment to the Paris Agreement during Tuesday’s One Planet Summit on climate change in the French capital.


Commissioner slams EU official over call to halt refugee quotas

As pressure continues to build on the Aegean islands with ever more undocumented migrants arriving from neighboring Turkey, European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday slammed a proposal by European Council President Donald Tusk for the abolition of mandatory quotas on relocating asylum seekers across the EU.


Property auctions this week again cancelled in Greece’s biggest courts

Wednesday’s auctions of foreclosed property at local courts in the greater Athens area and the Aegean islands were cancelled on Tuesday, after notaries’ associations again decided to instruct members to abstain from the legal process.


Greeks crushed by tax burden

Tax authorities have confiscated the salaries, pensions and assets of more that 180,000 taxpayers since the start of the year, but expired debts to the state have continued to rise, reaching almost 100 billion euros, as the taxpaying capacity of the Greeks is all but exhausted.


Part-time, occasional work dominate new job spots created in Greece during Jan-Nov period

Figures released by the Greek labor ministry on Tuesday show a distinct increase in the number of employed people in the country over the Jan-Nov 2017 period, although the majority of the new job spots are part-time and rotational work.


ELA for Greek banks drops 2.9 bln in November

Emergency central bank funding to Greek lenders dropped by 2.9 billion euros, or 12.7 percent, in November compared to the previous month, Bank of Greece data showed on Tuesday.


ATHEX: Stock index edges lower

In a perfectly balanced trading session at Athinon Avenue on Tuesday, stocks were split down the middle between winners and losers, with the benchmark remaining rudderless.







KATHIMERINI: Talks between Greece and FYROM on the name-dispute resume

ETHNOS: Smugglers out of control. A bomb exploded at the gas station of the president of the relevant association

TA NEA: 1,000,000 citizens have become hostage of the tax-office which has confiscated bank accounts and real estate assets

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Tusk is being provocative [about the relocation of refugees] while Merkel puts pressure on Greece

AVGI: Planet comes first

RIZOSPASTIS: With tomorrow’s strike we respond to the government, employers and their political parties

KONTRA NEWS: Greece is exiting the Memorandum era

DIMOKRATIA: Les miserables from… Lidl! Provocative campaign by the German group

NAFTEMPORIKI: Flexible employment spikes

Juncker caught up in phone-tapping probe: Bruno Waterfield reports in the Times that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been dragged into a criminal investigation into allegations his officials tampered with evidence in a phone-tapping scandal more than 10 years ago when he was prime minister of Luxembourg. “A Luxembourg judge opened a criminal inquiry into whether officials working for Mr. Juncker were responsible for an incomplete transcript of a covertly recorded conversation, which may have disguised his alleged role in phone-tapping,” Waterfield writes. Juncker denies any wrong-doing.



Donald Tusk’s Tuesday letter to leaders: He described the Brexit deal as “moderate progress” and said phase 2 negotiations will be a “furious race against time.” In a note attached to the invitation, Tusk declared: “Only member states are able to tackle the migration crisis effectively. The EU’s role is to offer its full support in all possible ways,” adding that “the issue of mandatory quotas has proven to be highly divisive and the approach has turned out to be ineffective.”

BONFIRE OF THE MIGRATION VANITIES: Tusk’s note led to a multi-directional migration brawl erupting, leaving few parties looking good. The Commission is adamant its refugee relocation and resettlement policies work (even though they don’t apply to 90 percent of irregular arrivals since 2015). Donald Tusk is adamant their compulsory nature isn’t politically sustainable (even though the burden falls unfairly on just a few countries without reallocation). Some officials say the Turkey migration deal saved Europe, others say it was the closing of the Western Balkans route. Cecilia Wikström, a powerful Swedish MEP who has led asylum discussions in the European Parliament, thinks Donald Tusk’s input is “shocking” and that he is acting more like the president of part of Europe (the immigration-resistant countries) rather than all of it.

Migration commissioner gone wild: The fight crystallized when an angry-looking Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos launched a stinging attack on Tusk Tuesday afternoon: “The paper prepared by President Tusk is unacceptable. It is anti-European, and it ignores all the work we have done in the past years … the role of the president of the EUCO is to defend the European unity and principles — this paper is undermining one of the main pillars of the European project. Europe without solidarity cannot exist.” By late Tuesday afternoon Tusk had issued a revised note for the summit, with a more upbeat description of the EU’s efforts.

Earlier, at a Monday meeting of diplomats, Jacopo Barigazzi reports that Italian, Swedish and German sherpas attacked the content of Tusk’s letter, according to a diplomat who was in the room. Some in the room and the Commission saw Tusk’s note as a power grab. POLITICO has the full story on the migration fight.

Parliament for its part seems willing to block Tusk, and that’s where the action will move after the EU leaders’ summit. Meanwhile, refugees remain stuck terrible conditions in camps such as Lesbos in Avramopoulos’ home country of Greece as another harsh winter approaches.

WHAT EUROPEANS WILL BE TALKING ABOUT TODAY — GAS PRICE RISES: Wholesale gas prices surged Tuesday as cold weather descended across most of the Continent, thanks to the shutdown of the North Sea’s most important oil and gas pipeline system and a fatal explosion at a major gas processing facility in Austria. Italy, where market prices have already more than doubled, has been hardest hit, with Rome declaring a state of emergency. If gas transit does not resume soon through Austria’s Baumgarten hub, Europe might be looking at high gas prices through winter.

EUROZONE — BEWARE OF A RE-EMERGING NORTH-SOUTH BLAME GAME: Pierre Briançon for POLITICO writes: “The divide between those who fear they will pay and those who feel they might fail is lurking behind the current debate on the best ways to strengthen the eurozone. Behind the talks on fiscal transfers or a proper eurozone budget with a common finance minister lies the usual mistrust between the same protagonists. Germany and its traditional allies — the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and oftentimes the Baltic countries — insist on fiscal discipline and strict controls. France, Italy and Spain plead for pan-European policies that would allow financial transfers between countries.”

COMMISSION — MACRON, MIMICA TO DISCUSS SAHEL ALLIANCE: The heads of state of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica in Paris to discuss the financing of the U.N.-backed G5 Sahel Joint Force, which needs about €400 million to go live (the Commission has already set aside €50 million). Once operational, it’ll be tasked with combating terrorism and drug and human trafficking.

New EU system for development aid: The Commission has asked EU governments for permission to launch discussions with aid partners in the so-called Post-Cotonou process, which seeks to update the current rules according to which development aid is handed out.

COMMISSION — VW MISSES ITS OWN DEADLINE TO RECALL CARS IN DIESELGATE SCANDAL: EUObserver reports Volkswagen confirmed in a meeting with European Commission officials it will miss its self-imposed deadline to remove emissions cheating software from 8.5 million diesel cars in Europe.


Brexit: This morning MEPs will debate the state of Brexit negotiations before voting on a non-binding resolution highlighting concerns about the U.K.’s transition period around lunchtime. Immediately after, they’ll vote on kebab ingredients (postponed at the Tuesday voting session).

Schengen: In the afternoon, MEPs will debate the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the EU’s Schengen area, which the Commission recommended years ago but has been blocked by some EU governments.

Sakharov prize: President Antonio Tajani will give the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Venezuela’s opposition. Details here.

NATO — STOLTENBERG KEEPS CALM AND CARRY ON: Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg will remain the military alliance’s secretary-general, its highest civilian position, until October 2020.


Read all the articles published so far in POLITICO’s special series on diversity in the EU institutions here. A Playbook Twitter poll on how the EU should handle racial diversity questions found that among 494 voters, 62 percent think the “EU should reflect its population.” Just 17 percent thought lack of racial diversity is not a problem.

FOR ROMA IN BRUSSELS, AN OPEN DOOR ISN’T ENOUGH: Ten years, 80 trainees, but no permanent jobs for members of Europe’s homegrown ethnic minority: Roma. That’s the sad tale of a European Commission program, which shows why opportunities are rarely equal for ethnic minorities in Brussels. The Commission disbanded the program in 2015, even as it stepped up surveillance of how national government support their Roma populations, report Ginger Hervey and Saim Saeed.

They spoke to people who participated in the program, like Carmen Tenasie, and the Open Society Foundation, which supported it, to find out what went wrong.

COMMISSIONER GÜNTHER OETTINGER RESPONDS, SORT OF: The European commissioner responsible for human resources and diversity issues tweeted, in an apparent response to POLITICO’s article series, that “I think we lead by example #diversity. #nondiscrimination of any grounds core principle of our #diversity strategy (lobbyists wanted to single out race) + selection of staff respects this.” The European Network Against Racism told Playbook that “We never received any response to emails or the open letter from his [Oettinger’s] Cabinet. Juncker responded to the open letter to say Oettinger’s team was formulating  a response, that was two months ago.”

PLAYBOOK QUESTION FOR 2019 EU ELECTION CAMPAIGNERS: In light of expensive “use your vote” campaigns in the run-up to the 2019 European elections — the European Parliament has allocated more than €30 million to such awareness and education efforts — and publicly funded party campaigns, Playbook wonders if any thought has been given to outreach to minority communities to drive voter turnout? Those involved in past or current election campaigns are invited to share their thoughts via email.

HARASSMENT — UK CONSERVATIVE AIDE ON TRIAL FOR RAPING COLLEAGUE: A chief of staff to a Conservative MP is alleged to have twice raped a woman in his boss’s office.


GERMANY — THE KOKO MO HAS ARRIVED: Call it “grand coalition lite” or “minority government plus” — Germany’s Social Democrats are open to supporting Angela Merkel on a range of policies (in exchange for some of their own priorities being pushed forward), but still reluctant to re-enter government with the CDU/CSU. It’s about identity politics: that is, the SPD wants one, and leaders don’t believe that will be possible under the thumb of Merkel. For her part, Merkel is starting to rev her EU reform motors as leaders begin to focus on this week’s EU leaders’ summit: she now says reform is a “historical necessity” the world is waiting for. Translation: Get ready to share the EU stage, President Macron.

GERMANY — MERKEL TO SKIP BUNDESTAG ADDRESS ON EU SUMMIT: Angela Merkel won’t address the German parliament ahead of this week’s EU summit, breaking with her tradition of briefing the Bundestag on what’s at stake ahead of major European meetings.

POLAND — NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MEANS EVERYTHING TO SEE HERE: The country’s new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki didn’t change a single member of the former Cabinet and promised “continuation,” in his first major parliamentary address Tuesday, reports Michał Broniatowski. That’s bad news for rule of law advocates in Brussels and for the Białowieża Forest.

DENMARK — FAR RIGHT THREATENS TO WITHDRAW GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: The Danish People’s Party (DF) is threatening to withdraw its support from the country’s center-right minority government in protest over its refusal to repatriate Syrian refugees. “The government can bring itself down before Christmas,” said DF leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl.

FRANCE — NATIONAL FRONT CHARGED OVER FAKE JOBS SCANDALThe party was officially charged with misusing parliamentary funds to pay national staffers.

FRANCE — PARIS SAYS NO TO MORE AUTONOMY FOR CORSICA: After winning a regional election, Corsican nationalists had their dreams of more autonomy — which included the official recognition of the Corsican language — crushed by Paris. Reuters has more.


EU: No talks on post-Brexit trade until late March: Jacopo Barigazzi and David Herszenhorn had the scoop about a planned slow start to trade talks. Michel Barnier reiterated there’s no chance a deal will be finished by Brexit day in March 2019. POLITICO Brexit Pros can read a December 11 draft of European Council guidelines on Brexit.

North England looks to the wind to power growth after Brexit: Mark Scott reports for POLITICO that as the U.K. shifts its weight from services in the wake of the Brexit vote, the energy industry offers manufacturers hope.

David Davis vs. the world: The FT’s Mehreen Khan captures it nicely. “David Davis as seen from the EU: ‘fighting after the fight is over.’”

Opinion I — Brexit transition deal isn’t a done deal, writes Manfred Weber: The leader of Europe’s biggest political party in the European Parliament is fast asserting himself as the EU’s Brexit attack dog. This piece for POLITICO, available for Brexit Pro subscribers, attempts to knock any complacency out of Westminster about where things stand in negotiations.

Opinion II — Brexit exposes the EU as being run by sensitive snowflakes, writes Asa Bennett: More in the Telegraph.

The unbearable limbo of being a British Eurocrat: Quartz gets on the Brexit train with a four-part series by Max de Haldevang on Brussels after Brexit. He writes: “In Brussels, by contrast, the topic hardly registers … But one group there doesn’t share in the bonhomie: the British technocrats who dedicated their careers to Europe’s radical project … ‘The EU is something we actually believe in. I’ve spent my entire career on this. Now, what the hell?’” said one official.

George Osborne profile: Le Monde profiles the multi-hat British politician, lobbyist and editor George Osborne on his fight against Theresa May, his political career prospects and potential conflicts of interests.


DOUG JONES WINS IN ALABAMA: Democrat Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in a special election earthquake Tuesday, flipping an Alabama Senate seat to the Democrats for the first time in a quarter-century and delivering a blow to U.S. President Donald Trump. Moore was accused of sexual assault and other misconduct by multiple women in November. More from POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss.