17-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

17-11-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, November 17, 2017

Bailout programs have only helped ‘to a limited extent’

The three bailout programs applied since 2010 “only helped Greece to recover to a limited extent,” while all of them lacked a growth strategy for the economy, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on the Greek bailouts issued on Thursday.


Death toll of Greek floods rises to 16

Greece’s fire service says rescue teams have recovered the body of a man who was reported missing after flash floods inundated the outskirts of Athens, bringing the death toll from the flooding to 16.


Creditors demand energy sector liberalization, e-auctions to begin as part of 3rd review of bailout

Creditors’ top auditors are set to return to Athens next week in order to resume negotiations with the Greek government on concluding the third review of the ongoing bailout, with the latter reportedly fulfilling 30 percent of “prior actions” linked with the specific review.


Probe ordered into Greeks in Paradise Papers

The head of Greece’s team of financial prosecutors, Marianna Psaroudaki, on Thursday ordered an investigation into the Greek nationals named in the so-called Paradise Papers, a set of 13.4 million leaked confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments.


Investigation ordered into arms sale

Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou on Thursday ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale of Hellenic Army missiles and bombs to Saudi Arabia amid claims that the deal was carried out with a “suspicious broker.”


Greek exports, imports up over first 9-months of 2017; trade deficit at 16.2 bln€

Greece’s balance of trade deficit reached 16.2 billion euros in the first nine months of 2017, an increase of 2.6 billion euros in relation to the same period of 2016.


Eurobank’s Q3 profit at 61 million euros

Eurobank’s third-quarter net profit came to 61 million compared to 37.3 million in the second quarter as provisions for impaired loans remaining broadly flat, Greece’s third-largest lender by assets said on Thursday.


ATHEX: Banks fall 8 pct on concerns

The seventh day of losses in the last eight sessions at the Athens bourse was the most dramatic, with banks shedding more than 8 percent and the benchmark only just managing to stay above the 700-point mark on Thursday, as confidence in the Greek economy and its banking sector in particular continues to ebb.







KATHIMERINI: Despair while the tragedy continues

ETHNOS: District Attorney to examine the Paradise Papers

TA NEA: Revelations regarding the state’s inertia [responsible for the casualties from the recent floods in Western Attica]


AVGI: Tragedy in Western Attica: Enough is enough

RIZOSPASTIS: These are the true culprits of the diachronic crime

KONTRA NEWS: FBI to give all the names of the people involved in the Novartis case

DIMOKRATIA: Tsalikidis [late Vodafone executive involved in an illegal hearings scandal that was revealed a decade ago] did not commit suicide!

NAFTEMPORIKI: 11 “Commandments” by the EU Commission


EU €3.7B ALL-NIGHTER EXPECTED: From 11:30 a.m. EU diplomats, leading MEPs in the parliamentary budget committee and top budget geeks in the European Commission (including Commissioner Günther Oettinger) will discuss compromises to wrap up a deal on the annual EU budget for 2018. Discussions are expected to last through the night into Saturday morning. Several EU budget experts told Playbook’s Quentin Ariès the Council is playing tough, pushing to cap the budget at €158.9 billion in 2018 while the European Parliament seeks to spend €162.6 billion, some €3.7 billion more.

The upshot: The Council wants to do more with less, while Parliament is sticking to form and wants to do more with more. Many countries (including Germany, France, Austria and the Nordics) would ideally like, in addition to a strict spending cap, to shift the full cost burden of the €3 billion EU-Turkey migration deal onto Brussels (the cost is currently split between national governments and the EU). Parliament’s rapporteur for the EU 2018 budget, Siegfried Mureșan, told Playbook that Parliament could not accept such a proposal.

EUROGROUP — ELECTION PROCESS LAUNCHES, VOTE DECEMBER 4: Nominations close November 30. Those nominated by their government will be named publicly December 1, and the winner will be elected by majority vote December 4.  

EU AGENCIES — FREE-FOR-ALL FIGHT IS UNLEASHED: Playbook has been reluctant to cover the fights over who will host the European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority, because it’s such a political rabbit hole. Here’s a useful read from Sarah Wheaton and Carmen Paun to catch up on the “feeding-frenzy for self-interested member countries.”

EU AGENCIES — MEPs CONSIDERING ASKING AGENCIES TO RAISE MORE CASH: Playbook’s Quentin Ariès got his hands on a leaked document showing MEPs are commissioning a study on how some EU agencies, such as the European Food Safety Authority and European Railway Agency, could be more financially self-sufficient. The study is expected to be finalized in May when the Commission will present its plans for the post-2020 EU budget.


EU leaders are expected to arrive from 8 a.m today at the summit venue in Göteborg. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will do a short press conference at lunchtime. Watch everything on the EBS here.

Angela Merkel under fire for skipping EU social summit: Portuguese MEP Maria João Rodrigues, one of the driving forces behind the 20 commitments of the European Pillar of Social Rights to be signed today, says the German chancellor is being “negligent” by missing the summit.

By the numbers — the reality of anti-social Europe: Hanne Cokelaere guides you through a disunited Union. Minimum wages can be as low at €235 a month (Bulgaria) and as high as  €1,999 (Luxembourg). Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Social Justice Indicator pitches Denmark as having twice the social justice levels of Greece.

Did you know? According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, 83 percent of Europeans believe a free-market economy should be accompanied by a high level of social protection.

COMMISSION — PANAMA PAPERS HAUNT CAÑETE: Rafael Méndez and Daniele Grasso for Spanish newspaper El Confidencial report European Energy and Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete’s wife is under investigation by Spain’s tax fraud office. Micaela Domecq Solis-Beaumont was named in the 2016 Panama Papers — a leak of some 11 million files from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Her financial interests have stirred claims of conflicts of interest with Cañete’s roles as a former MEP and Spanish minister, though Cañete always denied such conflicts.

EEAS — EULEX MISSION IN KOSOVO IN DISARRAY: Malcolm Simmons, a British judge and the chief judge at an EU organization tasked with improving the rule of law in Kosovo, quit on Thursday and accused other senior members of the mission of corruption and malpractice. EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijančič said: “The EU, as well as EULEX, operate a zero-tolerance policy towards allegations of inappropriate behavior and all mission members are accountable for their actions.” The EEAS is dealing with a letter Simmons sent to High Representative Federica Mogherini outlining the corruption and malpractice claims. An EU official with knowledge of the issue told Playbook that Simmons himself “has been a subject to an investigation” over meddling in ongoing judicial proceedings.

ICYMI — PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW WITH COMMISSION VICE PRESIDENT MAROŠ ŠEFČOVIČ: You can watch the 45-minute interview here. Some of Šefčovič’s top remarks: Günther Oettinger “was not alone” among commissioners in wanting to give car companies more time to switch to clean fuels, and the EU’s 27 percent renewable energy by 2030 target should be a “floor” not an end goal. Šefčovič also joked that his best friend in the Commission is Vera Jourová “because we can still chat in Czechoslovak, so we have our secret language.”


Talking to the tech Brexodus: “To stay or to leave, that is now the question,” writes Mark Scott. Many, but not all, are answering “leave.”

Facebook is coming under increasing scrutiny, and journalists aren’t liking what they see. Two examples over the past 24 hours …

“Hey Zuckerberg, my democracy isn’t your lab,” by Serbian investigative journalist Stevan Dojcinovic in the New York Times.

“The Zuckerberg delusion,” by Edward Luce for Financial Times.

Juncker blasts his own country on digital taxation: Jean-Claude Juncker told Luxembourg’s financial daily Paperjam he disagreed with the stance of Xavier Bettel, his successor as the country’s prime minister, to oppose any taxation of tech companies like Google, Amazon or Facebook.


GERMANY — COALITION TALKS SAIL PAST MERKEL’S THURSDAY DEADLINE: Talks about forming a new ruling coalition have been delayed until noon today as the would-be Jamaica coalition remains divided over climate, migration and finances, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the discussions. Angela Merkel set Thursday, November 16 as the deadline for the potential coalition partners to reach a preliminary agreement.

CZECH REPUBLIC — WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NEW GOVERNMENT: The Berlin Policy Journal explains the likely first steps of Andrej Babiš’ new government.

HUNGARY — GOVERNMENT ACCUSES US OF ELECTION MEDDLING: Following news of a U.S. State Department tender “to support media outlets operating outside the capital in Hungary to produce fact-based reporting and increase their audience and economic sustainability,” first reported by Playbook on Monday, the most senior American diplomat in Hungary has been hauled before the government to explain himself, writes Lili Bayer.

SURREAL — CARLES PUIGDEMONT INTERVIEWED BY ALEX SALMOND ON RT: The Alex Salmond Show aired for the first time on Russia’s RT Thursday morning with the deposed Catalan first minister as its headline guest. David Torrance writes for POLITICO that aligning himself with what many perceive as Moscow’s propaganda arm might be a gamble too far for the former first minister of Scotland.


Tusk and May to meet at 12:30 p.m. to discuss Brexit: According to Playbook’s EU source, Tusk will inform May that in line with the October summit conclusions, EU internal work on the transitional arrangements and the future EU-U.K. relationship is underway. Tusk will tell May a “sufficient progress” finding is not a given at the December EU summit, and that “time is short” to resolve the lack of progress. Tusk will ask May how the U.K. plans to progress on the three key issues for phase one of the talks, the source said.

Barnier’s Brexit timeline: No transition deal until October 2018. The slow timetable will alarm businesses who are keen for post-Brexit clarity as soon as possible, report Maïa de la Baume, Jacopo Barigazzi and Quentin Ariès. Even under Barnier’s best-case scenario, the transition negotiations would not even begin until February. The FT’s Alex Barker tweeted a copy of the graphic timeline.

Lawyers vs. hacks in Tory Brexit battle: Annabelle Dickson writes that while former journalists Boris Johnson and Michael Gove may have been the leading lights in the early act of Britain’s Brexit debate, now a raft of legal-eagle MPs are organizing themselves to push for a more cautious approach.

David Davis jaw-dropper: The U.K. Brexit secretary told a German audience Thursday that the EU should not put “politics above prosperity” in Brexit talks. Virtually all economists agree Brexit will dent U.K. and EU GDP. Davis also said it was “incredible unlikely” that the U.K. and EU would fail to strike a deal.

May wavering on Brexit date: A week after announcing the exact day and time of Brexit would be enshrined in the EU Withdrawal Bill, Theresa May looks ready for a U-turn. Justice Secretary David Lidington on Thursday said the PM is listening to her colleagues’ suggestions, when asked whether the exit date amendment could be withdrawn in the face of opposition from renegade Tory MPs.

Dutch MPs warn government to plan for ‘chaotic’ Brexit: More on the FT.


This week’s feature interview is with Eldar Sætre, the CEO of Norway’s oil and gas company Statoil, which is the foundation of much of the country’s trillion-euro plus sovereign wealth.

Listen immediately | Download to listen offline via Apple iTunes.

If the price is right: Asked what will do most to drive green energy, Sætre said: “I think honestly a price on carbon is the single most important factor,” followed by technology innovation. Would he call his former CEO colleague at Exxon Mobil, the current U.S. secretary of state, to push a green message? “You know I could call Rex [Tillerson], but I think the U.S. politics is more complex than that.”


SIZE MATTERS: Belgian prosecutors issued a questionnaire about what conditions Carles Puigdemont would face in jail if returned to Spain and imprisoned, including the size of his cell.

MORE RIOTS, THE FALLOUT: The Brussels city center faced unrest for the second time in five days Wednesday. Police arrested 31 people in connection with a riot that erupted after French social media star and agitator Vargasss92 called on his followers to occupy the Place de la Monnaie. Interior Minister Jan Jambon told Belgian MPs twenty staffers in the interior ministry will now monitor social networks full time to foresee such events. Le Soir’s Béatrice Delvaux wrote a strong editorial calling on Brussels Mayor Philippe Close to act swiftly.

FRENCH CHANGING ROLES: After the appointment of Philippe Léglise-Costa as the new French permanent representative to replace Pierre Sellal, Sandrine Gaudin was appointed by the French government as the new head of the secretariat general of EU affairs, a body in charge of coordinating French EU policy. Gaudin is also the EU affairs adviser in the private office of Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, replacing Alexis Dutertre, the former French deputy EU ambassador. Gaudin spent time in the French treasury as director for EU affairs and was a deputy financial attaché in the French EU embassy.