15-06-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 15-06-2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Greek govt to request Euro summit if Eurogroup fails to deliver debt relief compromise

The Greek government appeared to lower expectations for a crucial Eurogroup meeting on Thursday and prospects for a breakthrough in achieving debt relief, with an unnamed source quoted as saying “we’re very far from a solution.”

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1247190/report-greek-govt-to-request-euro-summit-if-eurogroup-fails-to-deliver-debt-relief-compromise

FM: FYROM must change name for it to join NATO

Despite the good will on display during Wednesday’s meeting in Athens between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Dimitrov, it was abundantly clear that there is still a long way to go before the decades-old dispute over the tiny Balkan nation’s name is resolved. The meeting took place as FYROM seeks Greece’s help to join NATO and the European Union.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219260/article/ekathimerini/news/fm-fyrom-must-change-name-for-it-to-join-nato

Greek central govt revenues, surplus on target during first 5-month period of 2017

The Greek central government’s revenues were mostly on target during the first five months of 2017, with the benchmark now being the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy – after its ratification – rather than the 2017 budget.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1247263/greek-central-govt-revenues-surplus-on-target-during-first-5-month-period-of-2017

Slow pace of justice hampering economic growth

The slow pace of justice in Greece is one of the main obstacles to economic growth, according to the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219265/article/ekathimerini/business/slow-pace-of-justice-hampering-economic-growth

Every other Greek has tax debts

Tax authorities have launched a wave of confiscations in response to the steady growth of expired debts to the state, which since 2014 have been increasing at a rate of 1 billion euros per month.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219263/article/ekathimerini/business/every-other-greek-has-tax-debts

Shipowners to extend their voluntary tax pay into 2018

Greek shippers intend to discuss the extension of their voluntary economic contribution to the state into 2018 in the context of an extraordinary general meeting of the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) scheduled for June 26.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219268/article/ekathimerini/business/shipowners-to-extend-their-voluntary-tax-pay-into-2018

ATHEX: Index reaches a new two-year high

The benchmark of the Greek bourse has finally risen above the 800-point mark to levels unseen since the imposition of the capital controls two years ago, as traders priced in a deal with the country’s creditors at today’s Eurogroup meeting. The rise in turnover is also testament to the confidence investors feel.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219248/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-index-reaches-a-new-two-year-high

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KATHIMERINI: High risk bras de fer between Athens and the creditors

TA NEA: Government is acting amateurishly while holding hot potatoes

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: So close and yet so far. Eurogroup convenes while Berlin keeps an ambiguous stance

AVGI: It’s a matter of intensions and integrity. It’s the creditors’ turn to meet their obligations

RIZOSPASTIS: The coordination of workers is the response to the escalation of anti-popular actions

KONTRA NEWS: Schaeuble and Lagarde are playing with fire

TO PONTIKI: Solution or rupture

DIMOKRATIA: All illegal constructions may be legalized with the payment of 250 Euros

NAFTEMPORIKI: War of words just before the Eurogroup meeting

DONE ROAMING: It’s party time at the European Commission today, as mobile roaming fees become illegal in the EU. But watch out! At least 36 telecoms operators (out of more than a thousand) have refused to implement the rules in full, or have applied for exemptions. Joanna Plucinska reports.

Playbook’s view from a ringside seat during the 13-year roaming war: From septuagenarians in stilettos to heated arguments at 3 a.m., the EU’s fights over roaming provided years of pure political drama. Given the time and political capital involved, Playbook wonders, was it really worth it?

EUROGROUP TODAY …

If finance ministers fail to achieve clear progress today, the Greek bailout is likely to land back on the desk of national leaders at next week’s European Council summit.

Why Greece is Germany’s de facto colony: Matthew Karnitschnig reports some hard truths from Berlin. Alexis Tsipras and others can talk as much as they want about being “hopeful” of a Greek debt deal, but the reality is, there’s not going to be any debt relief before Germany’s September election. “No serious economist believes Greece will ever crawl out from under its more than €300-billion debt without significant forgiveness from its creditors. That means convincing Germany, the country to which Greece owes the most. For much of Greece’s nearly decade-long depression, the country was hostage to its domestic politics. Now, it’s hostage to Germany’s.

Debt relief is the best solution: Yiannis Mouzakis and Nick Malkoutzis, co-founders of political and economic analysis website MacroPolis, argue in an opinion article for POLITICO that debt relief would be the best solution to end the Greek crisis and bring meaning to years of reform efforts.

ICYMI — European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici wants major Eurogroup reform.

**A message from the EPP Group: Afgan Mukhtarli is another example of the Azerbaijani authorities intensifying the harassment and persecution of their critics living abroad. Today we will call for his immediate and unconditional release. How the Azerbaijani authorities handle this case will impact our decision on whether to give consent to the new partnership agreement currently being negotiated.**

EU AGENCY RELOCATION — RICH COUNTRIES GAIN EDGE: Guidelines for agency relocation leaked to POLITICO indicate the EU places an emphasis on “business continuity” after Brexit, writes Giulia Paravicini. That means richer countries with existing good infrastructure have the best shot at hosting the two prized U.K.-based EU agencies after Brexit.

PARLIAMENT — JOURNALISTS CATCH A BREAK: The European Parliament has definitely caught the renovation bug, and journalists are the next beneficiaries. Parliament is getting rid of its old-style press room in Strasbourg, which is “undergoing a complete overhaul,” according to an advisory notice issued Wednesday. The facility will be closed July 3-6 for the work.

PARLIAMENT — DINING AND WHINING: European Parliament employees aren’t happy about next week’s price hike that will raise the cost of French fries, organic sandwiches, cappuccinos and wine in self-service restaurants and cafeterias in Brussels and Luxembourg. So, what’s lunch going to cost? Maïa de la Baume breaks it down.

TRADE — EU-JAPAN DEAL BEFORE JULY 7? Diplomats are pushing to wrap up trade talks for an EU-Japan deal with a potential summit between the two on July 5 or 6. The idea, POLITICO’s trade team reports, is to have something concrete before the G20 in Hamburg July 7. Some EU sources warn a political agreement between Tokyo and Brussels on a trade deal is not the end of the story — as the EU-Canada pact showed.

NEW LIST OF COMMISSION INFRINGEMENT CASES: From energy performance, financial services and tax on rental and leasing vehicles, find the Commission’s monthly infringements package here.

Not happy: European Commission deputy spokesman Alexander Winterstein dismissed on Wednesday claims the College of Commissioners was divided on whether to launch infringements against the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary for failing to accept refugees. That denial came despite the fact  Věra Jourová, the European commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said on Twitter she disagrees with the Commission’s move to open infringement proceedings.

EU BUDGET — GET READY FOR A FIGHT: Playbook’s source is preparing for a political cyclone, with EU national diplomats sure the debate over the EU budget will be a bumpy ride. “It’s going to be a real mess,” Playbook’s source said. “The Commission is trying very hard to keep the Future of Europe and Brexit discussions on different tracks. The EU budget is where those discussions merge.”

THE EX-FILES: Rumor has it former Finnish PM Alexander Stubb is set to become a vice president for the European Investment Bank. More from Yle.

LEO VARADKAR IS THE NEW IRISH PRIME MINISTER: Ireland’s new cabinet profiled. Eight ministers are under 50.

Donald Tusk verbatim: “I want to assure you of the great sensitivity amongst your partners in the EU27 to the challenge now facing the island of Ireland after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in 2019.”

Youth wave: The under-40-year-old heads of government wave continues. First it was Italy’s Matteo Renzi, Belgium’s Charles Michel and Estonia’s Taavi Rõivas, then France’s Emmanuel Macron and now Varadkar. The European Commission shouldn’t be forgotten: 37-year-old Mariya Gabriel is set to become the new European digital commissioner. Austria’s Sebastian Kurz could be next.

ROMANIA — GOVERNING PARTIES KNIFE PRIME MINISTER: The Romanian government collapsed Wednesday after the two coalition parties backing it withdrew their support, but Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu refused to resign, throwing the country into another period of political instability. Grindeanu said he’d only step aside if the president appointed a new PM from his PSD party, reports Carmen Paun.

POLAND — TUSK SLAMS SZYDŁO FOR AUSCHWITZ COMMENTS: Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło on Wednesday used the Holocaust to defend her government’s anti-immigration stance, saying: “In today’s restless times, Auschwitz is a great lesson showing that everything must be done to protect the safety and life of one’s citizens,” during a memorial service at the extermination camp. The comment was widely seen as a defense of Poland’s refusal to accept refugees in accordance with a mandatory EU relocation scheme. A party tweet to that effect was deleted after the backlash began. Tusk, who is a former prime minister of Poland, tweeted, “Such words in such a place should never come from the mouth of the Polish prime minister.”

SLOVAKIA — STATE OF THE COUNTRY SPEECH: President Andrej Kiska delivered the speech Wednesday (here in Slovakian).

DENMARK — NEW FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY STRATEGY: Details here.

GERMANY — JAMAICA COALITION: Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) formed a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s northernmost state. This could act as a test case for a national coalition. The party combination is referred to as the “Jamaica coalition” because the parties’ colors are black, yellow and green.

AUSTRIA — CENTER-LEFT COULD AGREE TO COALITION WITH FAR RIGHT: Social Democrats will change their coalition criteria ahead of an October election and could leave the door open for potential talks with the far-right Freedom Party.

ICYMI — NEW CROATIAN GOVERNMENT: Andrej Plenković, an ex-MEP, remains prime minister in Zagreb. New Foreign Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric is a College of Europe alumna, and will make her Brussels debut Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council.

FRANCE — JUSTICE MINISTER COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR MACRON: François Bayrou, the justice minister and leader of the centrist Modem party who has been a leading voice advocating for ethics reforms in France, threatens to become a liability for President Emmanuel Macron. Bayrou’s party is facing a probe over potentially dodgy contracts for its political aides in the European Parliament. Several media outlets officially complained about receiving phone calls from the justice minister pressuring them over their reporting, but Bayrou refused to back down, even after Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said he was wrong to have made the calls.

SPAIN — OPPOSITION DIVIDED ON WHETHER TO OVERTHROW RAJOY: Spanish leftists failed to topple Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy, with their attempt to do so highlighting their weakness.

POSTCARD FROM PRAGUE EUROPEAN SUMMIT …

No quick compromise on refugees in Central Europe: Czech sources told Playbook their government had provoked the Commission into legal action for non-compliance with EU refugee policy by not even pretending to follow the rules. While the Czech government will reply to the Commission’s complaint, no one in Prague expects a compromise offer or resolution before the country’s election in October. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said a compromise was necessary, but couldn’t or wouldn’t tell Playbook what it might look like.

NATO spending: A defense panel rejected the idea NATO could engage in EU-style budget surveillance and police the 2 percent of GDP defense spending target, because it lacks the mechanism to enforce any such recommendations.

Sebastian Kurz no-show: The Austrian foreign minister, who is running for chancellor, skipped the summit, including a session moderated by Playbook on youth radicalization he was due to speak at. His team’s official reason was a clash with the funeral of Alois Mock, a heroic Austrian former foreign minister. Few participants bought that. Their collective assumption: Kurz has entered domestic campaign mode. Meanwhile, Bart Somers, the mayor of Mechelen, shared how he countered radicalization in Belgium.

WHAT BRITS ARE TALKING ABOUT — GRENFELL TOWER BLAZE: Expect to hear this fire described as the U.K.’s Hurricane Katrina moment in coming days. Residents made multiple complaints, circulated petitions and begged for government intervention over safety concerns. They got nowhere, and now dozens are dead and injured. Did housing funding cuts contribute to the fire? If so, what responsibility lies at the door of Gavin Barwell, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s new chief of staff, who until last week was the housing minister?

Must read: Here’s a letter from authorities that not only dismissed safety concerns outlined by Grenfell Tower residents, but asked them to delete their complaints from the internet.

Conservative DUP deal delayed by fire: The deal is almost finalized but the parties consider it inappropriate to move forward in the aftermath of the fire.

Today’s UK front pages: Tragic. Horrific. Avoidable.” (the Independent) | “Disaster in 15 minutes” (the Times) | “Disaster waiting to happen” (the Telegraph) | “The warnings were ignored” (the Guardian)

REAL EUROPE: From back in 2015: “An Inside Housing investigation this week reveals just 18 of 2,925 council-owned high rise blocks in England have sprinklers in some of their flats.”

BREXIT CORNER …

Sinn Fein wrecking ball: For the first time in memory, Northern Ireland’s hardline republican MPs are claiming their offices, their expenses, and learning parliament’s ropes. Could they break a 100-year tradition and also officially take up their seats as a way to jam up the DUP-Conservative deal?

Brexit appointments and departures: After campaigning on a Remain platform in the U.K. election, Liberal Democrat chief Tim Farron quit the leadership role, saying he couldn’t reconcile being the party’s leader and his Christianity. His party gained several seats but its overall vote was down by two-thirds since 2010. Brexit supporter Stephen Barclay is the new “City minister” in charge of the vulnerable financial services sector.

Softly, softly — Hard Brexit is losing friends: “Opposition to May’s Brexit strategy — which until last week appeared to be set in stone — is crystalizing around one main goal: keeping the U.K. inside the EU’s tariff-free customs union,” writes Charlie Cooper. “British Chancellor Philip Hammond is pushing for a rethink at the top of government to limit the potential damage that tariff barriers would have on EU trade and the economy. His position is supported by a group of backbench soft Brexit Conservative MPs who now see their chance, in a reshaped parliament, to find common cause with Labour’s bolstered ranks and alter the government’s stance.”

Side bar: Charlie was this week recognized one of the U.K.’s rising journalism stars.

EU opens door to British return but will likely slam it again: EU leaders (including European Parliament’s Guy Verhofstadt) admit they’ll give the U.K. one last chance to change its mind. But even if the U.K. wants to — and there’s no clear sign of that — any EU offer would probably come with strings attached.

Irony of the week: Britain’s politics are becoming more European than ever — more socialist, more corporatist, more fractured — just as it heads for the EU exit door.

Brexit podcast du jour — FT’s George Parker with Paul Adamson. “There is still a question over whether this parliament will be able to deliver Brexit at all … The power dynamics have changed,” Parker says.

ICYMI — PLAYBOOK’S NEW EU PODCAST, ‘EU CONFIDENTIAL’. You can catch the pilot episode here: iTunes | Soundcloud. More podcast platforms will be added in coming weeks.

The essentials: EU Confidential is a new weekly 40-minute podcast featuring a headline interview and chats with POLITICO reporters and a Brussels brains trust of external contributors including Lina Abu Rous and Ailbhe Finn. There are two fun elements: “EU WTF,” in which we discuss the top jaw-dropping EU moment of the week, and “Dear POLITICO,” an advice session where we try to solve your problems in cases where the political and personal overlap. Watch this space for more news on how Playbook will expand and improve through the rest of 2017.

TURKEY — OPPOSITION LAWMAKERS GETS 25 YEARS JAIL: Enis Berberoğlu was accused of providing video evidence of Turkish intelligence agencies transporting weapons to Syria. Connor Murphy reports.

US — CONGRESSIONAL SHOOTING: A gunman shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, two police officers, a congressional aide and a lobbyist Wednesday during a congressional baseball practice. Scalise is in critical condition in a Washington hospital and will require additional surgeries after a bullet pierced his hip, injured organs and caused “severe bleeding.”