16-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

16-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flash floods kill 15 people in western outskirts of Athens

Serious flooding provoked by heavy rainfall led to the deaths of at least 15 people on the western outskirts of Athens on Wednesday, left another 17 injured, and damaged hundreds of homes and stores.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223306/gallery/ekathimerini/news/flash-floods-kill-15-people-in-western-outskirts-of-athens

November 17 commemoration up in air amid anarchist occupation

Just two days before the annual protest march marking the anniversary of the November 17, 1973 student uprising that precipitated the fall of the Greek junta, some 70 self-styled anarchists, including several from Albania and Central European countries, occupied the building housing the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), which used to be the Athens Polytechnic, in the city center on Wednesday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223317/article/ekathimerini/news/november-17-commemoration-up-in-air-amid-anarchist-occupation

Bond swap already two-thirds covered

The process of swapping 20 bonds stemming from the Greek debt restructuring of 2012, or private sector involvement (PSI), began on Wednesday with the issue of new securities.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223312/article/ekathimerini/business/bond-swap-already-two-thirds-covered

Third review to stretch into next year, DBRS says

Ratings agency DBRS said in a statement on Wednesday it expects that the current review of Greece’s third bailout program will not be completed within the year, but early in 2018.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223279/article/ekathimerini/business/third-review-to-stretch-into-next-year-dbrs-says

Deadline for voluntary disclosure of incomes extended; govt says 5 bln€ disclosed so far

A deadline for the voluntary disclosure of undeclared income will again be bumped back, with the latest cut-off date announced by the Greek finance ministry expected to be Nov. 25.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1295298/deadline-for-voluntary-disclosure-of-incomes-extended-govt-says-5-bln-disclosed-so-far

Taxpayers have paid dearly for 720-mln-euro ‘social dividend’

It took 2.7 billion euros in new taxes and pension cuts for the government to beat the primary surplus target by 1.9 billion euros this year.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223298/article/ekathimerini/business/taxpayers-have-paid-dearly-for-720-mln-euro-social-dividend

ATHEX: Local stock index drops as trading volume rises

The start of the bond swap process on Wednesday only gave local stocks a temporary boost, as the majority racked up more losses. Trading volume was the highest in more than a month.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/223302/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-local-stock-index-drops-as-trading-volume-rises

www.enikos.gr


www.protothema.gr

www.newsbomb.gr

www.cnn.gr

www.newsbeast.gr

KATHIMERINI: Nature takes lethal revenge

ETHNOS: River of liabilities

TA NEA: Crime: In search of liabilities [for the flood’s casualties]

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Unnatural disaster

AVGI: Man’s doing. Lament for the 15 casualties

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

KONTRA NEWS: Crime! The thieving mayors and the old and corrupted clientele system drowned the people

TO PONTIKI: Tragic price paid

DIMOKRATIA: Murdering state

NAFTEMPORIKI: The ‘unlocking’ of the bailout programme review

AU REVOIR TO THE LAST SUN KING

Pierre Sellal, France’s outgoing permanent representative to the EU and one of the first and most loyal Brussels Playbook readers, heads back to Paris today after a final meeting with ambassador colleagues Wednesday. He served a president who wants a Copernican revolution and was styled as Jupiter, but Brussels knew Sellal as the last Sun King of French diplomacy.

In a neat extension of the galactic metaphors, French scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of a new Earth-sized planet.

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

COUNCIL VS. PARLIAMENT: Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said that if MEPs criticize Warsaw, she’ll throw it back at them during the next EU summit.

SOCIAL SUMMIT COUNTDOWN … Danish PM: Go easy on the social, Europe. Lars Løkke Rasmussen writes for POLITICO that Denmark’s goal is to ensure the summit process and an associated EU “pillar of social rights” don’t create new legal obligations for any party or any new EU powers.

Commissioner Marianne Thyssen told Playbook: “We will write a new chapter in the history of social Europe. The proclamation of our initiative for a European pillar of social rights is a milestone. All European leaders and all European institutions will commit to it.” Thyssen is responsible for employment and social issues and added: “We go for a Europe where our citizens come first.”

Preview of new EU ‘social scoreboard’: Due out Friday, Playbook saw a copy, and it illustrates how much work is needed to level social protection and opportunity across Europe. Some examples of the divisions in the bloc below …

— Just 3 percent of Croatians are “early leavers” from education compared to 20 percent of Spaniards.

— The gender employment rate gap is 2 percent in Lithuania but 28 percent in Malta.

— Bulgarians are at risk of poverty at three times the rate of Czechs.

— One in five young Italians is out of work or education, compared to just one in 25 Dutch youth.

On the upside: There are 8 million more jobs in the EU today than when the Juncker Commission took office, according to the Commission.

COMMISSION SEES SLOW PROGRESS ON BULGARIA AND ROMANIA REFORMS: The Commission’s requirements on anti-corruption reforms have not been “satisfactorily fulfilled,” according to a report out Wednesday, writes Saim Saeed.

COMMISSIONERS ON TOUR: Commissioner Christos Stylianides is in Doha to speak about educating refugee youth at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). He will also announce a new EU collaboration with Education Above All. You can follow the livestream here. He will also meet EU ambassadors in Qatar to discuss how to foster promotion of the European Union in the country.

Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is in Washington D.C. for the biannual EU-U.S. justice and home affairs ministerial meeting. The focus is counter-terrorism cooperation, along with aviation security, visa reciprocity and cybersecurity. The Estonian and Bulgarian interior ministers will also be there for the EU side (current and incoming presidencies).

PARLIAMENT CORNER …

MEPs call for rule of law investigation into Malta, Judith Mischke reports.

Belgian European Court of Auditors member reappointment rejected: MEPs voted not to renew Karel Pinxten on the court, given the EU anti-fraud office OLAF is investigating whether he misused public funds and travel expenses. The Council of Ministers could still in theory go ahead with his appointment.

EFTA — COURT PRESIDENT RESIGNS: Judge Carl Baudenbacher will step down from the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States as of March 31 after 22 years, almost 15 of them as president. The Swiss Baudenbacher has participated in some 260 cases and is a director at the University of Saint Gallen. There has been a recent spike in interest in the court, which rules on disputes affecting Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway arising from their membership of the European Economic Area, amid speculation the U.K. could seek to join when it leaves the EU.

HARASSMENT LATEST

HARASSMENT COMMITTEE SUGGESTIONS: Five in six respondents to a Playbook call for suggestions said MEPs should receive compulsory training on avoiding harassment. The most popular ideas: a neutral and independent authority to which complaints can be reported and the provision of counselling support to those who flag harassment issues, separate from any formal complaint process. Respondents wanted President Antonio Tajani to take preventative action on harassment. One respondent suggested Parliament job applicants should be informed of any proven harassment cases against MEPs or their staff when applying for jobs.

Interim Scottish Labour leader Alex Rowley suspended from party amid abuse allegations: A former partner accused him of sending her abusive messages and being a “ruthless bully,” local media reported Wednesday. Rowley, who quit the interim leadership after the allegations were published, denied the claims.

Former French Young Socialist leader accused: Eight women accused Thierry Marchal-Beck, former head of the Young French Socialists, of harassing them, including multiple allegations of forced oral sex, between 2010 and 2014. Libération has the scoop.

US Congress paid out $15M on behalf of harassers: Democrat Jackie Speier, who spoke at a hearing on sexual harassment in Congress, later told NBC’s Chuck Todd: “There has been about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last 10 to 15 years.”

Seven women give statements but former U.S. President George H.W. Bush unlikely to be prosecuted.

COP 23 LATEST

THE CHINA-EUROPE CLIMATE BUDDY ACT FLOUNDERS: The EU’s great climate hope in the face of United States obstruction has been a new double act with China, with Canada chipping in. But Beijing isn’t playing along. China knows the EU needs it more than ever and has reverted to old habits of wanting developed and developing countries treated differently in climate action plans, while continuing to classify itself in the developing category. Sara Stefanini and Kalina Oroschakoff explain.

REST OF EU TO POLAND: GET MOVING. EU ministers are meeting in Bonn this morning to tell Poland, host of next year’s COP24 climate summit, to do more, including ratifying the “Doha amendment” (the second stage of the world’s Kyoto Protocol climate efforts, which preceded the 2015 Paris agreement). Next year’s conference is when the complex rules for meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement are due to be finalized.

TRADE — TRUMP IS MORE BLUSTER THAN BITE ON TRANSATLANTIC TRADE: Emily Schultheis and Matthew Karnitschnig write that U.S. President Donald Trump’s “reluctance to act on his threats reflects a simple reality of transatlantic trade: The two spheres have become so intertwined after decades of expanding business ties that moves to impose high tariffs or other barriers would be severely damaging to both sides.”

OECD — NEW ‘HOW IS LIFE?’ INDICATORS: Wellbeing indicators for the 35 OECD countries as well as Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and South Africa are available here. The data points to “deep divisions” along fault lines of age, wealth, gender and education.

ECHR — CORRECTION ON DENMARK’S TRACK RECORD: A missing word in Wednesday’s Playbook left the wrong impression about Denmark’s compliance with ECHR judgements. Denmark failed to implement just one of 46 ECHR judgements against it, and that makes it a top performer.

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — ALEKSANDER KREJCKANT OF POLAND’S NATIONAL RADICAL CAMP

Polish nationalists stole the spotlight at independence commemorations over the weekend, taking to the streets with demands for a “white Europe” and “No to Islam.” POLITICO’s Joanna Plucinska interviewed Aleksander Krejckant, a leader of one of the nationalist groups that organized the march, the National Radical Camp (ONR), which regards even the current Polish government as soft and liberal. ONR members have been known to use Nazi salutes. The interview was conducted in Polish and has been translated and edited for length.

Why independence day? “I’ve been the organization’s leader since 2013. I see this as my patriotic duty to honor this day by marching arm-in-arm with tens of thousands of Poles who want to show their pride for Poland.”

On promoting nationalism: Krejckant said ONR has its own portal, social media groups and accounts and works with an alternative media group, “which aspires to be a response to the lying mainstream media who have no credibility … We totally don’t need to use what the system portrays as attractive. People seek us out themselves, because society also sees … that we can say things as they are when others are afraid.”

On young people leading the march: “The initiative to host the march is an initiative taken by Poland’s youngest generation of nationalists. The vast majority of those who took part in the independence march were between the ages of 18 and 20. The organizers themselves are more mixed.”

On liberal elites: “The Law and Justice government is a demo-liberal government and we think the current system is bad. Of course some of this government’s decisions are at least somewhat satisfactory, but it doesn’t change the fact that Law and Justice is founded on the same demo-liberalism as the others … Beata Szydło is one of these politicians.”

EU NATIONAL NEWS

GERMANY — COALITION TALKS GO DOWN TO WIRE: Ahead of tonight’s deadline to decide whether formal coalition talks should begin between the CDU/CSU, Greens and liberal FDP, the parties are still wide apart on migration, climate policy, farming and EU reform, writes Emily SchulteisReuters reports the Greens want the government to push for the removal of all nuclear warheads currently in Germany.

Putting the ‘me’ back into Merkel: The coalition talks are taking precedence over everything, including both Friday’s EU leaders’ summit in Sweden, which Chancellor Angela Merkel will skip, and the COP23 climate conference. Wednesday afternoon Merkel kept Emmanuel Macron, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and others waiting on stage for at least 15 minutes. “Totally awkward,” is how POLITICO’s Sara Stefanini described it to Playbook.

SPAIN — PUIGDEMONT INSISTS HE’S STILL CATALAN PRESIDENT.

BREXIT 360°

Exclusive — Barnier thinks Canada-like trade deal is Britain’s only option: Britain can kiss goodbye its dreams of a broad, bespoke trade deal with the EU. POLITICO’s Maïa de La Baume, teaming up with Judith Mischke, has seen framework documents from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, which explain why EU-Canada is looking like an inescapable model for the increasingly rudderless British government. While that deal slashed tariffs, it is nowhere close to the single market on regulatory harmonization and freedom of movement, and falls short of what the City of London wants. The full story is available for POLITICO Brexit, Trade and Financial Services subscribers.

MEPs ditch Theresa May meeting: European Parliament party leaders have better things to do Friday November 24 than meet the British prime minister, they decided Wednesday. The official reason May’s meeting with the Conference of Presidents was canceled was because too many MEPs weren’t going to be in Brussels on the day, writes Maïa de la Baume. Privately, MEPs are unhappy at May’s refusal to address them in plenary.

Manfred Weber met with May bilaterally: The leader of Parliament’s biggest party, the EPP, went to see May in Downing Street anyway and declared himself impressed with her attitude. “May is willing to make a step forward towards Europe so that progress can be made by December,” Weber said after the meeting.

The sprawling costs of Tory fight club: The Guardian’s Rafael Behr writes that Irish reactions to Brexit show EU leaders see in the U.K. “a country fast degenerating from trusted ally to nightmare neighbor.”

Brexit meeting at the Council: The Council “working party” is kicking up into another gear with a meeting today on “economic and security cooperation,” followed by a meeting on “horizontal and security issues” Friday.

No comment on Brexit bots: The Commission declined to comment on reports in the British press (including in the Times) that Russia-backed Twitter accounts posted more than 45,000 messages about Brexit in 48 hours ahead of the 2016 referendum.

BEYOND EU

ZIMBABWE — REVOLUTION, EVOLUTION OR COUP DE GRACE? Grace Mugabe’s diamond shopping habits didn’t gel well with an economy her husband spent two decades destroying. Now Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old authoritarian leader, is out. Will his military-installed replacement be any better? The Economist doubts it. After nearly 20 years of following attempts to unseat Mugabe, Playbook agrees. Here’s AP’s guide to the main players.

What about the EU and Zimbabwe: As a Commonwealth country, the U.K. has the more direct interest. Here’s an account leaked in the WikiLeaks U.S. cables of the last meeting between Mugabe and an EU official — the then Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht in 2009. At one point in the encounter, a servant (dressed in a white tuxedo) got on his knees offering soap and water to Mugabe to cleanse his hands at the table in front of the European delegation.

RUSSIA — FOREIGN MEDIA TO BE LABELED AS FOREIGN AGENTS: Companies will be forced to declare their finances, funding and staffing if the rules are implemented.

US — EX-STAFFERS SAY TILLERSON’S ‘DISDAIN’ IS KILLING STATE DEPARTMENT: The former Exxon-Mobil CEO embraces the view that the private sector knows best. According to AFSA, the labor union for the U.S. Foreign Service, that’s making the State Department’s talent pool drain away, with around 100 senior officials leaving and the number of applicants taking the Foreign Service officer test dropping by half.