14-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

14-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tsipras offers handouts from proceeds of overtaxation

In a bid to seize the initiative and to shift the focus of public debate away from the recent political problems burdening the government, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced plans on Monday evening to distribute 1.4 billion euros of the country’s fiscal surplus – derived primarily from the overtaxation of the country’s beleaguered middle income earners – to citizens on low incomes.


ESM report on Greek economy after first, second reviews of ongoing bailout

The Greek economy has posted significant progress and macro-economic imbalances, such as those in the fiscal sector, have been rectified, according to a report issued by the European Stability Mechanism on Monday, entitled “The ESM Stability Support Programme Greece, First & Second Reviews – July 2017  Background Report.”


ND tables Parliament question over deal to sell ammunition, ordnance to Saudi Arabia

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Monday demanded that the relevant Greek defense and foreign affairs ministers provide documentation to Parliament regarding a controversial contract to sell surplus military ammunition and ordnance to Saudi Arabia.


Energean weighs IPO to fund Israeli gas plan

Greek energy firm Energean is considering listing on the London Stock Exchange to raise cash for a $1.5 billion development of gas fields off Israel’s coast, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.


Greek banks’ dependence on ELA drops

Emergency central bank funding to Greek lenders dropped by 5.74 billion euros or 20 percent in October compared to the previous month, Bank of Greece data showed on Monday.


Greek credit contracts 1.5 pct y/y in September, according to central bank

Total credit in Greece’s banking system contracted 1.5 percent year-on-year in September after a 1.5 percent decline in the previous month, Bank of Greece data showed on Monday.


ATHEX: Local bank stocks begin week with more losses

The Greek stock market’s banks index slumped to its lowest point in a year on Monday, sliding 4.19 percent on prolonged uncertainty regarding the launch of foreclosures, the handling of bad-loan portfolios and the possibility of yet another recapitalization. This, along with Coca-Cola HBC’s drop, led the benchmark lower for a sixth consecutive day.







KATHIMERINI: Tsipras hands out record-high social dividend which derived from the fiscal measures and excessive taxation

ETHNOS: Dividend of justice

TA NEA: The come-back of the center-Left causes panic to the PM’s office

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Support for 4 million citizens

AVGI: 1,4 billion Euros will return to low and middle-class social groups

RIZOSPASTIS: The PM’s announcements regarding the social dividend are a shameless mockery of the people while anti-popular policies escalate

KONTRA NEWS: PM Alexis is handing out 1,4 billion Euros to the poor, the unemployed and to small-time pensioners

DIMOKRATIA: The beneficiaries of the social dividend

NAFTEMPORIKI: 106 taxation-related amendments were voted in the past 4 years


The EU moved forward Monday on defense cooperation, one of its traditional weak spots. On Friday it hopes to show unity on social protection — a kind of post-austerity vision of the bloc. That matters because the rhetoric of EU leaders, who pride themselves on the “European social model,” often fails to match the reality: wildly different levels of social protections around the bloc, whether minimum wages, maternity leave or unemployment benefits.


What to expect: Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk will open the summit, with national leaders breaking into three groups with social partners (such as union and business representatives) and youth representatives, for livestreamed conversations about labor market access, working conditions and transitions to a more automated digital economy. Juncker and Swedish PM Stefan Löfven will close the session. Leaders will then sign on to the new “social pillar,” followed by a working lunch on education topics.

Did you know? This is the EU’s first social summit in 20 years. Juncker would know: He organized and chaired the last one during Luxembourg’s 1997 EU presidency and is said by EU officials to joke he’s the only person to remember the original version. Juncker then | Juncker now.

Socialist press conference today: Center-left MEPs promise to spice up their usual Parliament plenary press conference by outlining their vision of how Europe can be more social. Gianni Pittella and Maria João Rodrigues will speak from 10 a.m. local time in Strasbourg.

COUNCIL — 23 COUNTRIES SIGN UP FOR 2-SPEED DEFENSE UNION: Most EU countries declared they will participate in a new defense cooperation pact (all except U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Malta and Portugal), part of a broader push to advance European integration. France and Germany proposed the initiative last year as part of their efforts to breathe new life into the European project after Britain voted to leave the bloc. The pact will be officially launched at a summit next month, with diplomats expecting Ireland and Portugal to sign on before then, Jacopo Barigazzi reports.

Winners: Germany (which wants as broad a coalition of the willing as possible) and High Representative Federica Mogherini.

Constellation mapping: European projects and alliances are now more complicated than ever, meaning graphic designers’ jobs are secure for a while yet. To understand how NATO, the EU and PESCO now overlap, check the link. h/t Valentin Krellinger

COUNCIL — VENEZUELA ARMS EMBARGO PASSED: Foreign affairs ministers imposed an arms embargo against Venezuela. Liberal MEP Marietje Schaake believes the EU should go further and also impose targeted sanctions against President Nicolás Maduro and members of his regime.

PARTY PEOPLE — MACRON  VESTAGER: The French president wants Margrethe Vestager to get Juncker’s job in 2019, and Brussels can’t stop whispering about it, report Maïa de La Baume, Nicholas Hirst and Nicholas Vinocur. “Macron’s interest in Vestager is evident,” said Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, a French MP for Macron’s En Marche movement. “She’s doing an excellent job, she’s the most visible pro-European, she’s a woman, she’s been successful on files that Macron cares about, and she has shaken things up in the EU on many topics.”


— Preparing for the social summit in Sweden;
— Latest migration report;
— Discussion on current economic developments;
— Corruption report on Bulgaria and Romania.

COMMISSION — UNITED FRONT ON DIGITAL TAXATION, MINUTES SHOW: No one spoke against the Commission’s push for “fairer” digital taxation when the College of Commissioners met September 20 to agree a communication on “a fair and efficient tax system” for the EU’s digital single market.

Toasts and boasts: The minutes show Juncker and his team congratulating themselves for the president’s State of the Union speech in September, in particular the “the clarity of his concrete proposals, the generally positive reception of these in public opinion and the press, and the obligation that the speech placed on the member states to take a position on the fundamental political issues it addressed.”

PARLIAMENT — TAJANI INTERVIEW ON BREXIT AND BUDGET: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani is against the eurozone having its own budget or parliament and says its expansion should be within existing EU structures, with any future EU finance minister being a European commissioner. Tajani also said the U.K. should pay a Brexit bill of “at least €60 billion.”

PARLIAMENT — NEW EP VICE PRESIDENT: Lívia Járóka will be the EPP’s candidate to replace Parliament Vice President Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz.

PARLIAMENT — LIBERALS X-RAYED: The website VoteWatch conducted an “X-ray” of the liberal group in the European Parliament, analyzing whether it will hold together after the 2019 European election. A nice follow-up to Harry Cooper’s Monday report.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY — QUATREMER: Libération’s seasoned Brussels correspondent has strong words on Juncker’s communications policy.

ECJ — DATA PROTECTION ON THE MENU: A senior adviser to the European Court of Justice will give a non-binding opinion in a privacy case brought against Facebook by Austrian data protection expert Max Schrems today.

WHAT DO EUROPEANS CONSIDER SEXUAL HARASSMENT? “Almost everyone is of the opinion that it constitutes sexual harassment if a man tries to take a photo up a woman’s skirt or demands sexual favors. Grabbing a woman’s behind is also a no-no in all the Western European countries that took part in the survey,” reports Deutsche Welle.

#Metoo impact spreads: French local police in rural areas and small towns saw a 30 percent spike in sexual violence complaints filed last month.

COUNCIL — TUSK IN MANILA: The President of the European Council is in the Philippines as a guest of the ASEAN summit. He meets today with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern.

Why Asia matters: Fraser Cameron writing for the German Institute of Global and Area Studies argues it’s time for the EU to pay more attention to Asia.

TRADE — TPP MOVES ON WITHOUT THE US, WITH CANADA: Playbook reported Monday that Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau hesitated Friday to get on board to revive the TPP after the U.S. withdrawal. While that was true, the remaining 11 countries did in the end agree to move forward Saturday.


— Sharan Burrow, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, Belgium
— Fabiola Gianotti, director general, European Organization for Nuclear Research, Geneva, Switzerland
— Isabelle Kocher, CEO, ENGIE, France
— Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C.
— Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and chief executive officer, IBM Corporation, U.S.
— Chetna Sinha, founder and chair, Mann Deshi Foundation, India
— Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway

DIGITAL POLITICS: Q&A with Casper Klynge, Denmark’s tech ambassador to Silicon Valley, by Joanna Plucinska. For POLITICO Tech Pro subscribers here.



FRANCE — LABOR MINISTER’S MAGIC FORMULA FOR STUBBORN FRANCE: French Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud, who unveiled radical reforms of work rules in August, sat down with POLITICO’s Nicholas Vinocur to tell him her strategies for subduing France’s combative unions without having to call in riot police.

UK — MAY TALKS TOUGH ON RUSSIA: British Prime Minister Theresa May used a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet Monday to take aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing the Kremlin of “fomenting conflict,” “meddling in elections” and “seeking to weaponize information.”

CZECH REPUBLIC’S ANTI-HAVEL: The Czechs have a habit of electing blunt and awkward leaders. Miloš Zeman, the current president, says what people want to hear, the way they want to hear it — just like Donald Trump. That means calling 90 percent of Czech Roma “unadaptable” and lazy and volunteering to remove a burkini from the body of a Muslim woman, writes Siegfried Mortkowitz.

WHAT PORTUGAL IS TALKING ABOUT — DINNER WITH THE DEAD: An exclusive dinner in a church holding the tombs of Portugal’s illustrious dead is haunting an otherwise successful Web Summit. Prime Minister António Costa denounced the candle-lit dinner as “offensive” after spending days feting the role of the tech conference in changing Portugal’s economic outlook. Paul Ames for POLITICO Pro Tech subscribers | Irish Times.

ROMANIA — BAD TIMING ON THE CORRUPTION FRONT: Liviu Dragnea, leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party, has been charged with fabricating documents to win EU development funds. The investigation into Dragnea was launched on the recommendation of OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog. It won’t be reassuring for Bucharest as European commissioners today discuss the country’s progress reports on rule of law and corruption.



Parliament closer to ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit deal: The U.K. government has conceded parliament will get a vote on the final Brexit deal.

British government speaks to business leaders: EU and British business leaders met with Theresa May Monday to express concern about the slow pace of Brexit negotiations and the need for a transition deal to avoid a cliff-edge scenario, writes POLITICO’s Cat Contiguglia for POLITICO Financial Services, Trade and Brexit Pro subscribers. They’ve been saying that for a while: Here’s a nearly identical October statement.

Irish business tells UK: pay up, hurry up. Ibec CEO Danny McCoy, who joined the Downing Street delegation, said in a written statement he is “concerned at the lack of progress in negotiations” and wants “an extended transition period” not just rhetoric from London. “The U.K. has yet to match its stated commitment to a soft border on the island of Ireland with practical proposals to achieve this. A new approach is needed. The creation of new customs and regulatory barriers on the island of Ireland must be avoided.”

UK negotiators start scoping talks with US on trade: It’s not breaking EU rules, but the bloc will be watching closely nonetheless.

Brexit Big Band Theory: Matthew Herbert’s two-year-long project, the Brexit Big Band, will see the British electronic musician crisscross Europe on “an apology tour,” composing and performing songs that respond to Brexit. Alex Marshall for POLITICO has the story.

Opinion — William Hague thinks Brussels is on a debt binge, and the UK is being sent the bill: Somewhat undercutting Hague’s main point, while the EU has many long-term financial commitments, unlike national governments it’s legally prevented from running a year-to-year budget deficit.

CATALAN LONG READ — SPAIN, THE MOB AND RUSSIAN POWER: Sebastian Rotella for ProPublica details how Spain became an attractive hub for Russian organized crime, and how, for over a decade, authorities have fought back: jailing bosses and soldiers and confiscating tens of millions in cash and assets. Those efforts take on new significance as Russia works to undermine Madrid in the Catalan debate.


ICYMI — MEDIA: Elisabeth Zerofsky in the New Yorker has interesting insights on how German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung became the go-to place for leaks on tax issues like the Paradise and Panama Papers.


WIKILEAKS SPRINGS A LEAK: Donald Trump Jr. confirmed overnight that he communicated with WikiLeaks during his father’s U.S. presidential campaign after some of the messages were leaked to the Atlantic.