16-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

16-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Omnibus bill loaded with ‘prior actions’ passed by MPs backing Greek coalition govt

An omnibus draft bill containing dozens of “prior actions” demanded by Greece’s creditors – prescribed in two successive bailout agreements – was passed by a majority of deputies in Parliament on Monday evening, essentially guaranteeing the conclusion of the third review of the ongoing program and providing a respite for the Tsipras coalition government.


Dimitrov: Use of term ‘Macedonia’ not exlusive privilege of Greece

In comments aired by local television station TV21, the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov, has said that the use of the term Macedonia is not an exclusive privilege of Greece.


Lavrov: Greece should not make concessions in FYROM name talks

Efforts to revive the debate about the official name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are linked to Washington’s desire to induct that country into NATO, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference.


4.4 on the Richter scale quake shakes greater Athens

A mild earthquake, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, shook the greater Athens area on Monday evening, at 22.24.


Part-time jobs keep advancing

Hirings in the Greek labor market may have increased by 172,064 last month, but more than half, or 57.39 percent, concerned flexible forms of employment, according to the Labor Ministry’s Ergani database. This dire situation reflects the trend that became clear last year, when 54.87 percent of hirings were in the form of part-time or shift work.


Greek supermarket sector posts rise in turnover

Greece’s supermarket sector posted an increase in turnover in 2017, albeit small, marking the first annual rise since 2010, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen.


ATHEX: Mixed start to week for local stocks

The trading week in Athens got off to a mixed start, as the pressure on National Bank and Eurobank sent the benchmark and the blue chip index lower, while the majority of other stocks enjoyed gains, leading the mid-cap and the small-cap indices higher.







KATHIMERINI: Part-time employment trend becomes permanent

ETHNOS: 4,4 Richter scale earthquake ‘upsets’ Att

TA NEA: End titles for the protection of first residencies

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: One marriage and two flirts. Government reinforced with one MP after yesterday’s vote

AVGI: Reinforced government heads towards the exit from the crisis

RIZOSPASTIS: This will not stand! Organized popular struggle against the anti-popular attack

KONTRA NEWS: All crucial economy sectors took off

DIMOKRATIA: Russian President Putin withdraws his recognition of FYROM’s use of the name ‘Macedonia’

NAFTEMPORIKI: Pressure on Greek bankers on the auctions issue


The EU started 2018 with the bold, simple claim that it’s great value because it costs citizens less than a cup of coffee a day. Playbook put the claim to the test and found that, while there are massive and surprising differences in how much Europeans from different countries pay to the EU, the union costs nearly all citizens less than half a cup of coffee a day.

In this new “EU Cappuccino Index,” POLITICO ranks each EU country, using the bloc’s statistics, according to how much citizens pay the EU, and how much milky coffee that costs them.

Myth: Germans pay the bills. The EU costs Germans €0.84 a day per person, barely half the price Luxembourgers pay — €1.57 every day.

Italy election alert: Italians may find the EU’s coffee comparison the least appealing — thanks to the cheap coffee in Italy, the EU ends up costing them 0.56 cups per day.

No Brexit love: Brexiteers are also in for bad news: The U.K. gets a better deal than most EU countries in terms of both cash and coffee.

The cheap seats: Bulgaria gets the best deal, paying just €0.18 per day, which equals 0.17 cups of coffee.


COMMISSION — PLASTIC STRATEGY ANNOUNCED TODAY: To listen to European Commission officials is to think that the EU will today reinvent the meaning of plastic. They are proud to present what they say is the first-ever ground-up, holistic strategy to deal with the fact that plastics are now everywhere: in our air, lungs, food, and sea. Critics — from NGOs to Commission officials not specifically consulted on the plan — told Playbook the strategy contains little action or funding. It’s either a microplastics strategy or a micro plastic strategy: We’ll know at a 3:30 p.m. press conference today. You can read a draft of the strategy here, prepared by Commissioners Frans Timmermans, Jyrki Katainen, Karmenu Vella and Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

Don’t expect a complete ban on microplastics or single-use plastics: The Commission is somewhat limited by the fact that it can’t plan much beyond 2019 or spend beyond the current EU budget cycle (end 2020). Expect it therefore to focus on incentives to make the design of plastics better so that recycling (especially of single-use plastics, 90 percent of which are not recycled) is easier.

What about Oettinger’s suggested plastic tax? Advisers to other European commissioners were shocked that Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger last week riffed on the idea of using a plastic tax to fill EU budget holes created by Brexit. He hadn’t flagged it to them, and it’s not expected to be proposed in today’s strategy. The wider context is that EU governments are typically reluctant to have Brussels interfere with their tax policy. Oettinger isn’t wrong though: A functional EU single market would have a single approach to plastic incentives and taxes, and it doesn’t today. Marion Solletty has the details on why any plastics tax would face significant resistance.

COMMISSION — TIMMERMANS WON’T RULE OUT SECOND TERM: First Vice President Frans Timmermans told Dutch broadcaster NOS that he won’t rule out another term as European commissioner if he was asked by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

ECA — AUDIT INTO CENTRAL BANK EFFECTIVENESS OUT THIS MORNING: Published at 11:30 a.m. The European Court of Auditors has examined whether the European Central Bank efficiently managed the establishment of crisis management procedures for the 120 banks under its supervision since 2014. The banks hold just over 80 percent of European banking assets, worth about €22 trillion. Supervising these assets costs the ECB €490 million in 2017, a sum paid by the banks themselves.

BY THE NUMBERS — EU COUNTRY STATE AID MAPPED: This map — extracted from the U.K.’s industrial strategy — shows that Germany doles out by far the most state aid among the big EU countries, while in pure GDP percentage terms Latvia and Hungary beat Germany, with Finland not far behind. h/t Wes Streeting.


WHAT WORKS — NOT THE EU DRUGS STRATEGY: A new RAND report says the EU drugs strategy “has encouraged an international approach to curbing drug trafficking and sales. However, drug use and drug-related deaths across Europe have risen.” By Emma Disley and Kristy Kruithof.

PARTY PEOPLE — SOCIALISTS START TO CALL FOR MUSCAT’S HEAD: It’s hard to know what external political force could topple the government of Malta, long dogged by claims of corruption. The move by some fellow Socialist MEPs to say it’s time for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to resign won’t be welcomed in Valletta.


ROMANIA — PM RESIGNS; COUNTRY SET FOR THIRD LEADER IN A YEAR: Mihai Tudose’s resignation comes amid growing tensions with PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who cannot be prime minister because of a suspended jail sentence he received for rigging a referendum. Tudose took over in June 2017 after his predecessor Sorin Grindeanu was ousted by government colleagues.

ITALY — 4 REASONS TO WORRY AHEAD OF ELECTION: Political uncertainty is likely to be the winner in the March general election, writes Jacopo Barigazzi, who spies a soft spot for Russia across Italy’s political spectrum plus complications from Euroskepticism, migration and public debt.

SPAIN — MADRID TO RETAIN DIRECT RULE IF PUIGDEMONT RE-ELECTED: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont must be “physically present” if he wants to govern the region, and Catalonia would stay under the direct control of Madrid if he attempts to govern from Belgium.

GERMANY — SPD FIGURES DEMAND CHANGES TO COALITION PLAN: Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz is facing a growing backlash to a blueprint for a new government with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, reports POLITICO’s Matthew Karnitschnig.

UK — MAY TRYING TO MEND FENCES WITH TRUMP: British PM Theresa May is seeking an “encounter” with U.S. President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week in an attempt to mend fences after his nixed trip to London. More from the Times.


EU TOUGHENS ITS TRANSITIONS STANCE: The FT reports that revised EU directives drawn up by EU member countries for the bloc’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier seek to extend free movement rights and a special status to all EU citizens arriving before the final day of the transition. POLITICO also verified the report. Full details here.

UK PUSHES BACK ON FRENCH BORDER DEMANDS: Theresa May’s spokesman pushed back at reports that French President Emmanuel Macron will demand the U.K. pay more and take more asylum seekers in return for his country’s help at the Calais border. “This is an agreement [Le Touquet] which has served both sides well since its inception,” he said, Reuters reports. “I would point out the fact that we have provided help already such as through the provision of extra security fencing.”

JOHNSON ADMITS MISTAKE IN £350M BREXIT CLAIM, BUT NOT HOW YOU THINK: U.K. Foreign Secretary and Brexiteer Boris Johnson doubled down on the Leave campaign’s claim that Britain sends £350 million a week to the EU, which it should spend on public services instead. “There was an error on the side of the bus,” he told the Guardian. “We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control.”

CHANGING ROLES: Anton Spisak is now senior policy adviser at the Department for Exiting the EU, arriving from the Institute for Government.



TURKEY — GET READY FOR ERA OF NARROW EU DEALS: Turkey and the EU are moving into a new period of relations where tighter cooperation in specific areas will be prioritized over Ankara’s drive for full membership, analysts told AFP.

EGYPT — TUESDAY IS NOW EXECUTION DAY: The New York Times on worrying trends in the Egyptian government, military and courts.

US — CONGRESSIONAL HARASSMENT CLAIM LEADS TO SECRET $220,000 PAYOUT: “Winsome Packer had a plum overseas assignment, an apartment in Vienna and a six-figure salary as an adviser to a Washington congressman when it all came crashing down,” writes the Washington Post. In a case that dragged on for four years, “Packer was awarded $220,000 in one of the largest secret settlements paid out in recent years by the congressional Office of Compliance … Packer lost her job and is unemployed. She had to agree not to discuss her case, but she recently broke the pledge, calling it ‘a license to abuse and demoralize the victim completely.’”

RUSSIA — WHAT SHOULD THE WEST DO? NEW ESSAY COLLECTION: Edited by Daniel Hamilton and Stefan Meister.


INTERCEPTED: The Belgian air force Monday claimed to have “successfully intercepted two Russian TU-160 Blackjack bombers above the North Sea.”