15-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

15-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bid to keep MPs in line ahead of vote on multi-bill

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his key ministers have their work cut out for them ahead of a vote in Parliament on a contentious multi-bill on Monday which was the focus of vehement debate in the House on Friday, as well as angry demonstrators who clashed with police in central Athens.


NY meeting pivotal to name dispute talks

Tuesday’s meeting in New York between United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz and negotiators from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will kick-start a two-week period of activity which could prove pivotal to the course of talks over name dispute that has divided the two countries for decades.


Kammenos proposes referendum on FYROM name change

Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), has proposed holding a referendum on the name dispute with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


Severe backlash from junior Cabinet member’s derogatory comments against rival football fans; resignation imminent

The latest, and utterly abrupt, political “tempest” to bedevil the shaky leftist-rightist Greek government coalition came over the weekend with an outlandish statement by a junior Cabinet member, who used offensive language to refer fans of two popular football teams in the country.


ND still holds double-digit percentage point lead over SYRIZA: poll

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party continued to field a double-digit percentage point lead over ruling SYRIZA in the latest opinion poll results published on Sunday, although the latter appears to have rebounded from its approval ratings “free fall” over the past few months.


Online auctions for debts to state from May 1

Online auctions related to overdue debts to the state will begin on May 1, according to an amendment tabled in Parliament on Friday that puts an end to conventional auctions from now on.


ATHEX: Bourse back at levels last seen in July

The 17th session of gains in the last 20 wrapped up another robust week for the Greek bourse, with the market reclaiming morning losses to end higher again on Friday on somewhat reduced turnover.








KATHIMERINI: Interview with Thomas Wieser: Greek debt restructure but with additional terms

TO VIMA: Macedonian salad…

REAL NEWS: Former PM Kostas Karamanlis: “There is no such thing as a ‘Macedonian’ nation”.

PROTO THEMA: 68% rejects an agreement with Skopje that would include the term ‘Macedonia’

AVGI: Real estate registry enters the last phase after two-decade-long delay


ETHNOS: Application will provide first-residence protection from the tax-office

TA NEA: The government coalition suffers inner trembles

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Something is going on with the government’s junior coalition partner, Independent Greeks

KONTRA NEWS: New Democracy leader Mitsotakis is all hat and no cattle as far as the name dispute with FYROM is concerned

DIMOKRATIA: Expatriate Greeks address US President Trump on the name-dispute regarding the name of FYROM

NAFTEMPORIKI: The fourth bailout program review will be challenging as well

The most valuable military real estate in the world: Bruno Maçães, a former Portuguese minister, begins a new article series for POLITICO by looking at possible coming wars. He writes: “Only one thing is certain: They will be contested by nations with deeply integrated economies and infrastructure across borders that are diluted, permeable and sometimes supple.” Maçães starts in Djibouti at the entrance of the Red Sea, which is home to more foreign bases than any other country. It hosts China and Japan’s only foreign military bases, then there’s the United States and four French bases and an Italian one too. Saudi Arabia is building one as well. Djibouti has made overtures to Turkey. Russia and India are rumored to be considering acquisitions.


COMMISSION — JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER’S TWITTER-FREE 2018: It’s been a week since the Commission president tweeted (we last checked at 6 a.m.), and he’s managed only three tweets in a month. A relief in these Trumpian times, or something else?

COMMISSION — CHINESE AMBASSADOR CONTINUE TOUR OF TOP OFFICIALS: Permanent Representative Zhang Ming last week met Martin Selmayr, rather than his boss Jean-Claude Juncker. Today it’s the turn of the EU’s powerful Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

PARLIAMENT — PLENARY DOUBLE BILL OF NATIONAL LEADERS THIS WEEK: Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is the first national leader to debate the future of Europe with MEPs on Wednesday, while Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is speaking Tuesday about his country’s EU presidency plans. MEPs will vote on Wednesday on three key files in the clean energy package: the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Governance Regulation, following a Monday debate. MEPs will also vote on a regulation of “dual-use exports” with a view to controlling, for example, the sale of spyware to authoritarian regimes.

PARLIAMENT — ITALIAN MEPs ATTEMPT TO SCUTTLE MEDICINES AGENCY’S MOVE TO THE NETHERLANDS: Italian members of the European Parliament have one final card to play in a bid to stop the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from moving to Amsterdam, write Carmen Paun and Jacopo Barigazzi. Milan spectacularly lost the battle for EMA hosting rights to Amsterdam in late 2017, via a lucky-draw tie-breaker. Now three MEPs — Paolo De Castro, Patrizia Toia and Elisabetta Gardini — have decided to challenge the decision, using the Parliament’s power to change any element of ordinary legislation it is sent. Full details for POLITICO Health Care Pros here.

Don’t get excited, Milan: “Theoretically, it is possible [to change the location], but I don’t think that will happen,” said Carlo Corazza, spokesman for Antonio Tajani, the Italian president of the Parliament.

IN TOWN: Nasr Hariri, head of the political Syrian opposition, is in Brussels today. He is meeting EU political and security committee ambassadors and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to discuss the Syrian war and crisis, and next steps in the political process. Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister for foreign affairs, will also meet Mogherini today.

EUROGROUP ICYMI — MÁRIO CENTENO NOW IN POST: Centeno, the finance minister of Portugal, is now in post as leader of the euro area finance ministers, replacing Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Centeno said in a statement: “We have a unique window of opportunity to deepen monetary union, making our common currency more resilient against future crises.” Centeno also chairs the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund. Hugo Coelho of the specialist news service MLEX has been selected as Centeno’s Eurogroup spokesperson and will begin work in February.

WEF — MERKEL COULD JOIN DAVOS SHOWDOWN WITH TRUMP: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering joining French President Emmanuel Macron at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week. Cue for an epic war of words between the pair, India’s Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump. Small anti-Trump protests have already kicked off in Switzerland ahead of the president’s planned visit.

NATO — JAPAN JOINS CYBER CENTER, STOLTENBERG ON SWEDEN: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Saturday at the Folk och Försvar security conference in Stockholm that “NATO cooperate closely with Sweden. There are no other nations we cooperate more closely with.” Meanwhile Japan has decided to join the alliance’s cyber center of excellence based in Tallinn, Estonia. 

NATO — NECTAR, ALFA, TANGO, OSCAR: The story behind the NATO phonetic alphabet is part of the NATO Declassified human interest series.

MIGRATION — MUCH OF EUROPE AGREES WITH TRUMP: “The Czech president has called Muslim immigrants criminals. The head of Poland’s governing party has said refugees are riddled with disease. The leader of Hungary has described migrants as a poison … Austria’s new far-right interior minister suggested ‘concentrating’ migrants in asylum centers, ” writes the New York Times about a pattern of dehumanizing language that fills many Western political debates today, in an analysis of why so many European government had no reaction to President Trump saying he did not want immigrants from “shithole” countries.

More than 200 migrants storm Morocco-Spain border


WELCOME TO THE NEW DIGITAL CENSORSHIP ERA: It’s dangerous to ask tech companies to decide what’s legitimate free speech, writes POLITICO’s Mark Scott. Not least because they have an incentive to censor as a way to save money and avoid controversy. The growing push to control what can be published online will again take center stage this week when the European Commission publishes its biannual report Thursday on how Facebook, Google and Twitter are handling hate speech.


GERMANY — COALITION DEAL WOBBLY AS LEFT GETS COLD FEET: “There is a great deal of skepticism” regarding a renewed coalition between Angela Merkel and the Social Democrats (SPD), Manuela Schwesig, the SPD state premier in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, told NDR Info radio. Michael Groschek, the leader of the SPD’s biggest regional association in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, spouted a near identical line, and smaller state branches of the SPD are voting against the deal. Reuters has more on the “No GroKo” roadshow.

The draft German coalition agreement — translated into English: The Ghent European Law Institute (a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence) has uploaded an English translation of the German original, which devotes the first three of 28 pages to EU matters. h/t Merijn Chamo

ITALY — HAND COMBAT THE KEY TO ELECTION VICTORY UNDER NEW LAW: Under Italy’s new election law, for the first time since 2001, Italians will cast a ballot not just for a party, but for a candidate in a first-past-the-post race in their local constituency. That puts a premium on coalitions and star candidates, explain Lorenzo Pregliasco and Matteo Cavallaro. Nearly 40 percent of the parliament (232 out of 630 seats in the chamber of deputies and 109 out of 315 seats in the senate) will be elected locally.

ROMANIA — WHEN GROWING FAST DOESN’T MAKE YOU RICH: Romanians’ wealth has barely budged during the nation’s huge boom, reports Bloomberg.

CZECH REPUBLIC — TRANSLATED OLAF DOCUMENTS ON BABIŠ CASE: Czech daily Hospodářské noviny has an English summary of the leaked case regarding Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ alleged EU funds fraud.

HUNGARY — COULD FOOTBALL BE VIKTOR ORBÁN’S UNDOING? The PM is a big spender on the beautiful game, and matches are one of the best chances to pin down ministers and other policymakers, reports the Guardian. “Even if you hate football, you have to go to these matches,” said Gyula Mucsi of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International. “It is the only place that the elite are willing to socialize with anyone outside of their small circle. Big construction and infrastructure development projects and plans which require a lot of money are basically decided in the skybox.”

QUOTE DU JOUR: U.S. President Donald Trump is “an asteroid of awfulness that has fallen on this world,” according to the U.K.’s left-wing Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. “I think that he is a danger and I think that he is a racist,” Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday. (Trump told reporters Sunday that he is the “least racist person you have ever interviewed.”) Like Trump, Thornberry is known for making media splashes unaccompanied by policy substance.


LONGER TRANSITION PERIOD UNDER DEBATE IN BRUSSELS: The European Commission has not ruled out extending a Brexit transition period beyond 2020, the deadline set by chief negotiator Michel Barnier in December. Ambassadors from a number of EU countries raised the possibility of a longer transition at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, according to four diplomats.

MAY’S SILENT EU LOVE: Theresa May was taking credit over the weekend, via tweets badged with the Conservative Party logo, for a new EU law banning credit card payment surcharges. MEPs complained that national governments were much less enthusiastic about the proposal when it was in draft form.

UK AND FRANCE DRIFT TO APART? Britain and France could drift apart after Brexit, endangering defense and security cooperation, according to a report by Britain’s former ambassador to France Peter Ricketts for the Royal United Services Institute think tank. The Guardian has more. On that note: French President Emmanuel Macron will use a meeting on Thursday with Theresa May to demand the U.K. take more asylum seekers and pay more for border security to maintain the Calais border, according to Reuters.

OPINION — BREXITEERS WON THE VOTE BUT LOST THE WAR: Matthew Parris writes in his Times column that Theresa May has been smart to wear out the government’s hard Brexiteers.


TURKEY — FORMER PRESIDENT GÜL TAKES ON ERDOĞAN, RAISING HOPES OF 2019 CHALLENGE: Abdullah Gül, a former ally of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the president’s co-founder of the ruling Justice and Development Party, is raising hopes that he will run against Erdoğan in 2019, writes Zia Weise for POLITICO.

Juncker sees no progress on EU-Turkey ties while journalists jailed: That was the Commission president’s line Friday. Meanwhile, three former Turkish police chiefs, jailed in 2014 after carrying out anti-corruption raids (their wives were later jailed in 2017), were on Friday moved to police headquarters in Istanbul, with some local media reporting they are being tortured for allegedly passing information regarding an Iran sanctions case in New York.

US — HAWAII PANICS AFTER FALSE MISSILE ALERT: It took 38 minutes to correct the erroneous message sent to all mobile phone users in the Pacific Ocean state.

US — TAKE THE ‘OFFICIAL’ TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL POLL: Look what landed in Playbook’s inbox via the Trump campaign mailing list.