14-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

14-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tsipras: Tusk’s proposal on refugee quotas is ‘unfortunate, untimely and unnecessary’

The proposal by European Council President Donald Tusk to scrap mandatory quotas on relocating asylum seekers across the European Union is “unfortunate, untimely and unnecessary”, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with state TV channel ERT3, broadcasted on Wednesday.


Poll puts ND 9.4 points ahead of SYRIZA

A new public opinion poll carried out by MRB puts conservative New Democracy 9.4 percentage points ahead of leftist SYRIZA.


General strike to disrupt public transport, government services

Thursday’s general strike, called last week by the country’s two main umbrella labor unions to protest ongoing austerity, will disrupt public transport as well as halting most government and state services.


Nine officers injured after Roma clashes

Nine officers were slightly injured on Thursday in clashes outside a police precinct in Ano Liosia, northern Athens, with dozens of members of the Roma community, who were protesting the death of a 62-year-man in custody.


Eurostat: One in 3 residents in Greece face ‘material, social deprivation’

Greece ranks third, from the bottom, in terms of Eurostat’s “Material and social deprivation” report for 2016, with only Romania and Bulgaria posting a worse performance.


Employers lament shortage of skills

The existing skills of the country’s human resources and enterprises’ requirements are separated by quite a distance, according to a study by recruitment company Adecco titled “Employability in Greece.”


Greek 10-year bond yields fall to new record lows

Greek state bond yields continued falling to reach new record lows in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the 10-year Greek bond yielding 4.36 pct (down 4.46 pct on Tuesday) and the German Bund yielding 0.31 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German Bund fell sharply to 4.05 pct from 4.16 pct the previous day. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, equally distributed among buyers and sellers.


ATHEX: Greek stocks head north

The drop in Greek bond yields and window dressing efforts in the approach to year-end contributed to a healthy rise in stock prices at Athinon Avenue on Wednesday, while two package transactions for Eurobank and Grivalia Properties sent trading volume soaring.







KATHIMERINI: The government rushes to change the legislation for asylum seekers

ETHNOS: Paradise Papers: Weird link between the recent Saronic Gulf shipwreck and offshore companies in the Marshall islands

TA NEA: Document proves the connection between the Ministry of Defense and the middle-man involved in the arms deal with Saudi Arabia

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The District Attorney in the region of Rodopi  asks experts’ opinion in order to include it in the indictment regarding a claim filed by nationalists who want the use of the term “Turkish minority” to be prohibited

AVGI: The refugee crisis is a new crash test for the EU

RIZOSPASTIS: We strike and send a message of counter-attack

KONTRA NEWS: Storm of revelations in the parliament regarding the offshore company of New Democracy leaders’ wife

TO PONTIKI: The whole world is changing but New Democracy stays the same

DIMOKRATIA: Mortgage registries to shut down

NAFTEMPORIKI: Fed says goodbye to 2017 with a third increase in interest rates



Summit in a sentence: Migration the big fight, eurozone debate a mere sub-plot, yet more PESCO (defense cooperation) self-congratulations, and Brexit in a corner. Check the latest draft summit conclusions here.

Summit theme song: Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know (featuring the sunset on British EU membership).

POLITICO live blog will kick off at 10 a.m.

Timing today: Leaders are scheduled to arrive from 2 p.m., after which they’ll chat with Parliament President Antonio Tajani. There will be a working session until 6:45 p.m., then a “family photo” of those whose governments have signed up to defense cooperation. Migration is on the menu at dinner, which is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. Brexit “sufficient progress” will be mentioned. British PM Theresa May returns to London after dinner.

PLAYBOOK SUMMIT POWER MATRIX: This new matrix plots out which countries rank top, middle and bottom in Brexit and euro debates. You may be surprised or angry, but never bored.

The U.K. has zero power in the three key summit discussions: on Brexit, eurozone and migration. Neighboring Ireland will display rare supremacy — it’s the top powerbroker on Brexit. The Visegrád Group’s rise to power and prominence in EU decision-making will fall flat once talk turns to the euro — Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have no intention of joining the single currency — whereas Portugal is sitting pretty thanks to its recent Eurogroup presidency win.

Playbook’s power matrix also reminds us that France is back across the full suite of politics and policy the European Council deals with. Move over Germany, or get a stable government. Most countries are stuck in the bottom left quadrant: a sign their ideas, planning and size will not combine to make them a critical voice at the summit. Estonia and Bulgaria enjoy outsize influence thanks to their Council of the European Union presidency roles in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The Irish moment: Ireland will enjoy its moment of peak EU power today and Friday, even requesting a bigger room than normal for its press conference. Let’s hope spokesperson Eddie Brannigan has made a full recovery from a snow accident earlier in the week.

Welcome back: Bloomberg profiles Philippe Léglise-Costa, France’s new EU ambassador and former EU adviser to François Hollande. Roddy Thomson, most recently writing for the Sun and barred from the last Brussels EU leaders’ summit, has now been reaccredited, he told Playbook.

Visegrád Group offer migration cash: According to diplomats from three Visegrád Group countries, after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the leaders of the V4 will announce a €35-million contribution to managing migration. This is part of a wider fundraising effort to which Germany will also contribute €100 million, all of it to be channeled via the EU’s struggling Africa Trust Fund. There will be close Italian oversight and the aim is better management of Libya’s borders. Slovak Minister Ivan Korčok told Playbook: “This is the contribution to a challenge that defines our generation. This is how we feel about solidarity in migration.”

NGOs weigh in on migration fisticuffs — New survey of migrant experiences in EU: As the Commission and Council get stuck into fisticuffs over EU migration (as POLITICO reported earlier this week), 30 NGOs including Save the Children and Oxfam have come up with a statement on how to overhaul the current, broken system. In parallel, the European Network Against Racism will today release a survey of 5,237 migrants’ experiences living in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Sweden. The survey reveals particularly bad housing conditions and low life satisfaction. Respondents reported high levels of discrimination and verbal abuse, feelings of being treated worse than their colleagues at work and being victims of crime on the basis of their ethnicity or migration status.

Don’t hold your breath for eurozone reform: Without a stable German government, the window for achieving serious reform before the 2019 EU elections is closing. Highly technical debates virtually ensure any big changes will be delayed, writes POLITICO’s Pierre Briançon.

Estonia’s digital EU presidency in review: An all-male panel made up of Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Norwegian State Secretary for Digital Affairs Paul Chaffey, Neil Rimer from Index Ventures and Microsoft’s John Frank will debate the past six months. Watch here from 9:30 a.m.


COMMISSION — CECILIA MALMSTRÖM BLASTS WTO FAILURE TO ACHIEVE TRADE PROGRESS: “We failed.” That was the European trade commissioner’s blunt message to national governments, according to an audio recording POLITICO obtained. As the clock counts down on the annual meeting of global trade ministers in Buenos Aires, there have been no multilateral agreements, or even a cohesive declaration to chart their path forward. POLITICO Trade, and Agriculture and Food Pros can read more here.

PARLIAMENT — CHILD SEX ABUSE REPORT: Anna Maria Corrazza Bildt’s report on the issue is due to be voted on today. Video of her speech introducing it.

EU SINGLE MARKET — CROSS-BORDER PARCELS GET A HOLIDAY SEASON BOOST: The EU stopped short of imposing price caps on parcel deliveries, but agreed overnight to force price transparency on providers and to empower national regulators to investigate any pricing out of line with underlying costs. Commissioners Ansip and Elżbieta Bieńkowska have been fighting for months to get this agreement to the finish line.

EU SINGLE MARKET — THIRST FOR CHEAP LABOR FUELS A BOOM IN DISPOSABLE WORKERS: Across Europe, “nearly 55,000 agencies recruit hundreds of thousands of temporary workers each year for cheap manual labor and service jobs … workers brought in as required — replaceable cogs in a tireless machine,” reports the New York Times.

DEFENSE — EUROPE’S SPENDING CHALLENGES: The union’s armed forces may have new coordination plans, but they are butting up against old obstacles. For 30 years experts have argued, as McKinsey did earlier this year, that Europe could save up to a third of what it spends on military equipment if governments club together to coordinate investment and use fewer arms suppliers. POLITICO’s Janosch Delcker has the story.

What about UK-EU defense cooperation? Stefano Stefanini and Munich Security Conference’s Wolfgang Ischinger write in La Stampa today that London is hinting at supporting credible European defense structure and capabilities. They argue the U.K. should get a comprehensive and generous offer from the EU to be associated with that defense effort, including access to the European Defense Fund and the EU Defense Industrial Development Program.

FUTURE OF EUROPE OPINION — TIME TO END EU LEADERSHIP FARCE: Giles Merritt writes: “The first of the EU’s leadership dominoes has just fallen, with Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno’s successful bid as the incoming Eurogroup president. There now follows a baffling and obscure game of three-dimensional chess in which nationality, gender and political affiliation score higher than talent or charisma.”


Register for 2018 #BrusselsSoWhite event: In response to the strong reaction to POLITICO’s article series, our journalists will convene a town hall-style debate in January (date TBC) about what, if anything, should be done to make the Brussels EU bubble more inclusive of racial and ethnic minorities. Register your interest there.

#GermanySoWhite: Check out this picture of 17 German interior ministers — all male, all white — notable given their jobs deal frequently with diverse communities and migration issues in particular.

Minority groups and the 2019 election opportunity: Thomas Huddleston of the Migration Policy Group told Playbook: “EU citizens with immigrant and minority backgrounds have rarely been targeted in get-out-the-vote (GOTV) initiatives for the European Parliament, apart from a few NGO good practices from the Transatlantic Inclusion Leadership Network or the European Women’s Lobby. This color-blind approach is a major missed opportunity for GOTV initiatives targeting pro-Europeans, which normally focus on young people and students. Peer-reviewed research using MPG’s Migrant Integration Policy Index shows that non-EU-born immigrants are actually much more likely to identify as ‘European’ than native-born Europeans are. Over 700,000 non-EU immigrants are naturalizing as EU citizens every year.”

Feedback of the day: “The problem lies not in the EU institutions, it lies in the EU member states, and in the way they integrate ethnic minorities, structure their educational systems,” a Playbooker writes. “I was born and raised in a South American country … Nevertheless, I have managed to succeed in an EU adviser competition and to become a permanent official … It is true that I am a sort of exotic animal in the institutions, but I have never felt discriminated against … believe it or not, passing an EU competition was actually the only way I could find into the ‘EU bubble,’ because my CV and background worked against me in the private sector … The EU’s competence-based selection processes allowed me to make my way into the bubble … If there is something that the EU could do, it would be more something like nudging the member states to provide more opportunities for minority groups to acquire the necessary skills.”


Parliament takes back control — May defeated over Brexit deal veto: Theresa May has yet another Brexit hurdle to clear, with parliament voting against her government’s wishes and giving itself veto rights over any Brexit deal she and her Brexit secretary negotiate over the next year. POLITICO’s Charlie Cooper has more.

David Davis: Brexit brawler-in-chief. The Brexit secretary has a recurring date for one with his own destiny, explains Tom McTague. Davis himself says: “You look through history and who do you admire? I admire Leonidas the Spartan or Horatius, who defended the bridge of Rome.”

Boris Johnson mocked Juncker at Foreign Office reception: “Caesar Augustus in Brussels has declared, ‘sufficient progress.’”

Waiting for the Brexodus: The French finance ministry is wrapping up proposals to cut taxes for high salaries, in a move Les Échos reports is designed to attract jobs from London. Meanwhile, the FT reports the City will lose 6 percent of its jobs due to Brexit, fewer than some had predicted.


SALMA HAYEK ON HARVEY WEINSTEIN: If you only read one article today, let it be this.