15-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

15-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Further easing of capital controls announced

Restrictions on individuals opening a bank account unless they already have one, as well as the addition of another person to an existing account, and the ban on unfreezing inactive accounts were the three main changes introduced by the capital controls as far as individuals are concerned, according to a decision by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223272/article/ekathimerini/business/further-easing-of-capital-controls-announced

Greek finance ministry source: bond swap pending

An unnamed finance ministry source in Athens on Tuesday was quoted as referring to a pending swap of 30 billion euros worth of bonds dating to the PSI, and with a maturity of up to 2042.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1295064/greek-finance-ministry-source-bond-swap-pending

Creditors in deliberations with Greek side over distribution of ‘social dividend’

Institutional creditors are in talks with Greek authorities over distribution of a “social dividend” announced on Monday evening, although deliberations “appear aligned” but are not yet concluded.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1294876/creditors-in-deliberations-with-greek-side-over-distribution-of-social-dividend

Athens-Skopje talks to pick up momentum

The meeting next week between Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations special mediator on the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and negotiators from Greece and FYROM, is seen as part of the effort to expedite talks geared toward a solution to the problem that has divided the two countries for more than two decades.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223269/article/ekathimerini/news/athens-skopje-talks-to-pick-up-momentum

Downpour near Athens floods roads, traps residents

Heavy overnight rain flooded a town near Athens on Wednesday, trapping people in their homes and cars and shutting schools.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223274/article/ekathimerini/news/downpour-near-athens-floods-roads-traps-residents

Criteria for automatic debt settlement scheme

Businesses with debts of between 20,000 and 50,000 euros will need to neet all three criteria set for their inclusion in the automatic extrajudicial debt settlement mechanism, according to a joint decision issued by the ministers of finance and labor, which has been sent to the country’s creditors for approval. The mechanism in question does not require a sustainability report regarding the company applying for the debt arrangement scheme.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223270/article/ekathimerini/business/criteria-for-automatic-debt-settlement-scheme

Banks face IFRS bill of 7.6 bln euros

The application of the new accounting standard, the IFRS 9, will cost the Greek systemic banks some 7.6 billion euros according to Morgan Stanley, due to the additional provisions it will entail.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223268/article/ekathimerini/business/banks-face-ifrs-bill-of-76-bln-euros

ATHEX: Slight uptick for local stocks

During the course of Tuesday’s trading session in Athens it appeared that Greek stocks might stage a recovery after the benchmark’s downward spiral of recent days, but the rise proved unsustainable as the main index closed with just a fraction of the gains it had posted earlier in the day and trading volume left a lot to be desired.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223253/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-slight-uptick-for-local-stocks

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KATHIMERINI: Lesvos is issuing an SOS signal due to the large numbers of migrants on the island

ETHNOS: Article by EU Commission head Jean Claude Juncker and Stefan Löfven: “Growth without exclusions for all Europeans”

TA NEA: The notorious surplus

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Sabotage in London. The counselor of New Democracy leader Mitsotakis presented a gloomy projection for the Greek economy to an investors club in London

AVGI: White-washing of tax evaders by New Democracy

RIZOSPASTIS: Black clouds are gathering over poor people’s homes

KONTRA NEWS: They wanted to let the poor starve at Christmas!

DIMOKRATIA: 59% says yes to the social dividend

NAFTEMPORIKI: Six threats for the economy

INTERVIEW WITH SWEDISH PM STEFAN LÖFVEN

Stefan Löfven started his career on the factory floor. This Friday the welder-turned-Swedish-prime minister co-hosts the EU’s “social summit for fair jobs and growth” in Gothenburg, which he hopes can super-charge both his electoral fortunes and Europe’s welfare systems. Co-hosting the summit is European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has made the construction of an EU “social pillar” one of his pet projects. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel won’t attend the one-day summit, as it clashes with coalition talks in Berlin.

POLITICO’s Stephen Brown interviews Löfven here.

Commission to push ‘European education area’ at social summit: Read the Commission’s six recommendations here. “By 2025 we should live in a Europe in which learning, studying and doing research is not hampered by borders but where spending time in another member state to study, learn or work is the norm,” Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said.

Not invited — trade union body complains of exclusion: Hendrik Meerkamp from the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CESI) shared with Playbook correspondence with Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis telling his group (representing around 40 member organizations and 5 million affiliates) there was no space for it at the summit. The bigger European Trade Union Confederation is invited. CESI said it’s ironic Juncker underscored in his State of the Union speech that “in a Union of equals, there can be no second-class workers,” when there appear to be second-class trade unions. (Juncker was referring to posted workers.) Read Dombrovskis’ rejection letter here.

Clarification on Council President Donald Tusk’s summit role: He will only chair the working lunch.

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

COUNCIL — GENERAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL TODAY: EU affairs ministers will debate the future of the bloc’s “cohesion policy” after 2020. Brexit is expected to blow a hole in the EU’s budget on issues like regional subsidies.

COUNCIL — EU AND ASEAN MEET IN MANILA: Donald Tusk was in Manila Tuesday to mark 40 years of cooperation between the EU and South East Asia. In prepared remarks he said: “We both believe in rules-based multilateralism, not geo-political spheres of influence. We work towards strategic partnership on trade, investment, climate, security, counterterrorism and more.”

SPECIAL MEETING OF PARLIAMENT’S ANTI-HARASSMENT COMMITTEE: The European Parliament committee that deals with alleged harassment (sexual or otherwise) involving MEPs will meet later this week to consider proposals to put to President Antonio Tajani to clean up workplace culture. Playbook would be delighted to share your comments and suggestions, which you can submit here, with the committee.

PARLIAMENT IN HOT WATER OVER COLD WATER: MEPs are in a lather after news that hot water in their personal showers will be turned off. “The warm-water circuits have a deteriorated condition due to their age and contain ‘dead end pipes’ causing a permanent health risk linked to the potential growth of harmful bacteria,” according to an internal email seen by Playbook. The problem isn’t new. In March, POLITICO reported that EU lawmakers and staffers were told legionella bacterium had been found in showers in the Altiero Spinelli building in Brussels, causing the hot water to be turned off for several weeks while tests were carried out.

PARLIAMENT — MACRON EFFECT STILL RIPPLES IN THE FRENCH DELEGATION: MEPs Guillaume Balas and Isabelle Thomas, allies of the Socialist former French presidential candidate Benoît Hamon, announced they are leaving the French Socialist Party. The move was expected and a parliamentary official told Playbook they are very likely to remain in the French Socialist delegation and in the Socialists and Democrats group in European Parliament. The move is interesting, as Contexte pointed out, as it shows the Macron political storm is not over yet in French politics. Center-right leader Alain Juppé hinted — before backtracking — that he could team up with Macron in 2019. More on L’Obs here.

PARLIAMENT — FARAGE LOSES LEGAL BATTLE WITH ANTI-FASCIST GROUP: Nigel Farage has lost a legal battle against anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate over his accusations it is “violent and undemocratic.”

PARLIAMENT — USEFUL TIP OF THE DAY: Andras Baneth has set up an online calendar for the European Parliament for next year. You can download it straight into your digital calendar. Details here.

TRADE — ANTI-DUMPING VOTE TODAY: MEPs will vote on new anti-dumping rules today. POLITICO’s Jakob Hanke reports in POLITICO’s Pro Morning Trade newsletter the proposal would allow the EU to tackle dumping from China without branding Beijing a non-market economy.

ECA — EU AUDITORS CRITICIZE RED TAPE AROUND EU FARM FUNDING: The European Court of Auditors released a report finding that €100 billion in EU rural development program funding is too complicated, the rules tough to enforce and various programs aren’t consistent with one another.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE — DANISH PRESIDENCY STARTS TODAY: The big topic on the table for the Danes, who will run the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, is possible reform of the European Court of Human Rights (see here, for example). Danish priorities here.

POLISH PERSPECTIVE — ‘NEW PACT FOR EUROPE’ PROJECT: After a year of intensive debates with Polish and international experts, the EPC think tank released a report on the Polish perspective on the state of the Union and where we go from here. Eurozone reforms are a subject of particular concern in Poland. The report calls for these reforms to be implemented within the framework of the existing EU institutions and remain open to late-comers such as Poland. Read it here.

BY THE NUMBERS — COUNCIL OF EUROPE:

19,570 — The number of European Court of Human Rights judgments since 1959.

1 — As of January 1, 2017, only one judgment (out of 46) from the court concerning Denmark has been fully implemented

EU NATIONAL NEWS

GERMANY — GREENS, CONSERVATIVES FIGHT OVER FARMING: It’s far from the headlines, glamor and predicted tension points, but Germany’s agriculture ministry (spread across Bonn and Berlin) is the surprise prize holding up coalition talks, writes Emily Schultheis for POLITICO.

SPAIN — REGIONAL LEADERS DIVIDED ON AUTONOMY ISSUES: Spain is already significantly decentralized. So what would it mean to hand more power to regional governments, asks Diego Torres for POLITICO.

BREXIT 360°

What a front page — ‘The Brexit mutineers’: The Daily Telegraph will be the talk of Westminster this morning, thanks to this front page, which includes former MEP Vicky Ford among Conservative rebels.

What to watch in the EU Withdrawal Bill debate: British MPs could limit Theresa May’s room for maneuver in Brexit negotiations with the EU27. Debate will rage over eight days spread over the weeks leading up until Christmas, and Annabelle Dickson for POLITICO outlines what you should watch out for.

Manfred Weber does Downing Street: The president of the conservative European People’s Party will meet Theresa May today in London and ask her to “put proposals on the table” on Brexit.

May’s EU Parliament fudge: Like David Cameron, Theresa May will meet the European Parliament’s leadership on November 24, according to two senior Parliament officials. She will however not attend a plenary meeting, but merely a meeting of party leaders.

UK parliament international trade committee grills Brexit witnesses today: Giving evidence will be legal experts Philippe De Baere and Andrew Hood, followed by economist Michael Gasiorek. The session will look at possible legal and technical mechanisms for the U.K. to replicate the EU’s trade agreements.

BEYOND EUROPE

ZIMBABWE — POSSIBLE COUP UNDERWAY

AUSTRALIA — 62 PERCENT VOTE ‘YES’ IN NATIONAL SAME-SEX MARRIAGE SURVEY: The country’s parliament will now debate legislation to translate that into law.

NEW DAVID MILIBAND BOOK ON REFUGEES: Hot on the heels of brother Ed’s new podcast, the former U.K. foreign secretary has a new book out: “Rescue: refugees and the political crisis of our time.