12-05-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 12-05-2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Calls for minister to quit over court ruling on hirings

Local government officials called on Thursday for Interior Minister Panos Skourletis to resign after Kathimerini revealed that the Court of Audit has deemed unconstitutional a decision to keep contract workers in their jobs at municipalities, as well as efforts to give them permanent positions.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218359/article/ekathimerini/news/calls-for-minister-to-quit-over-court-ruling-on-hirings

Greek PM in China for ‘Belt & Road’ Forum

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will begin an official visit to China on Friday as a high-level participant in Beijing’s “Belt and Road” forum, where he’s set to hold separate meetings on the sidelines of the event with IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and, of course, Chinese leadership, including with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1234433/greek-pm-in-china-for-belt-kai-road-forum

Debt talks shift to Bari on Friday

On the fringes of the G7 council of finance ministers in Bari, Italy, Greece’s creditors will on Friday try to find a compromise solution on the Greek debt that will allow for the return of the International Monetary Fund to the Greek program, a day after the European Commission downwardly revised its forecast for Greek growth this and next year.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218360/article/ekathimerini/business/debt-talks-shift-to-bari-on-friday

WSJ: Greek govt eyes bond issue in 2017

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday claimed that the leftist Greek government is considering a bond issue for later in the year – possibly July or September – on the basis of a looming agreement with creditors this month to finally conclude a second review of the current bailout program.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1234414/wsJ-greek-govt-eyes-bond-issue-in-2017

Greek unemployment drops slightly in February, still eurozone’s highest

Greece’s jobless rate dropped slightly to 23.2 percent in February from 23.3 percent the previous month, statistics agency ELSTAT said on Thursday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218331/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-unemployment-drops-slightly-in-february-still-eurozones-highest

Cruise tourism to shrink 15 percent this year in Greece

Cruise tourism activity is projected to record a 15 percent decline this year as the sector is going through a recession in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to Theodore Kontes, head of the Union of Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members (EEKFN).

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218363/article/ekathimerini/business/cruise-tourism-to-shrink-15-percent-this-year-in-greece

Attica to sell loan portfolio to a British group

The governing board of Attica Bank has accepted an offer from British financial group Aldridge EDC for a loan portfolio worth 1.3 billion euros.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218364/article/ekathimerini/business/attica-to-sell-loan-portfolio-to-a-british-group

ATHEX: Lucky 13th for local bourse

The benchmark of the Greek bourse ended higher for a 13th consecutive session on Thursday, but sales recorded during the closing auctions suggested its rising streak is coming to an end.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218355/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-lucky-13th-for-local-bourse

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KATHIMERINI: Non-performing loans increase

TA NEA: Threats and recommendations by the government addressed at institutions such as the Court of Audit and the National Council for Radio and Television

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Games at the expense of thousands of contracted workers

AVGI: Thessaloniki’s transport services become public

RIZOSPASTIS: Greek Communist Party: Popular uprising against the new agreement and the government’s attempt to loot

KONTRA NEWS: The hostage-like situation for contracted workers in Municipalities and Public Companies must end

DIMOKRATIA: Siemens gave Greek political parties kickbacks worth 2% (of each project)

NAFTEMPORIKI: The delayed conclusion of the second bailout programme review costs 2 billion Euros

COMMISSION — MEET MARIYA GABRIEL: Bulgaria’s new European commissioner is set for the digital brief. At just 37 she is regarded as a hard-working lawmaker, but lacking real digital experience.

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COMMISSION — EU ECONOMIC RECOVERY INCHES FORWARD: The European economy has entered its fifth year of recovery and all EU countries are out of recession. But the ugly reality is that divergence among individual countries is still a challenge.

By the numbers: The European Commission expects euro area GDP growth of 1.7 percent in 2017 and 1.8 percent in 2018. GDP growth in the EU as a whole is expected to remain constant at 1.9 percent in both years.

ECJ — TOP EU LAWYER SAYS UBER IS A TRANSPORT COMPANY: A European Court of Justice advocate-general said on Thursday in a non-binding but persuasive opinion that Uber is a transport firm rather than an internet service platform. If the ECJ goes on to agree with him, the European Commission may in fact quickly decide to legislate in favor of Uber (the Commission had hoped the court would do its dirty work and allow it to avoid this political hot potato in a big election year).

An Uber spokesperson downplayed the opinion, saying it will “await the final ruling later this year,” adding: “Being considered a transportation company would not change the way we are regulated in most EU countries as that is already the situation today.”

What does the court opinion mean? By POLITICO’s Nicholas Hirst and Joanna Plucinska.

Tweet du jour — Uber’s legal gymnastics.

THE END OF PARLIAMENT IN STRASBOURG? AN OFFER TO TEMPT MACRON: Some members of the European Parliament want to make French President-elect Emmanuel Macron an interesting offer: move the European Medicines Agency to Strasbourg in exchange for letting the European Parliament meet only in Brussels. Carmen Paun has all the details.

Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes has published a related proposal.

Truth serum: It is harder to move the Parliament than an agency. If the incoming French president tried to allow it in the absence of an EU treaty change, he’d at the very least end up in court. It’s also true that outside of France it’s hard to find anyone who thinks Parliament having two seats is a useful way to spend time and money.

PARLIAMENT — FRANCE AND ITALY SUPPORT TRANSNATIONAL ELECTION LISTS: Former MEP and EU treaty expert Andrew Duff analyzed what next now that two of the three biggest EU27 countries support European election reform.

COUNCIL — EU JOINS ISTANBUL CONVENTION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Ministers wrote that “by deciding to join the Istanbul Convention, the European Union confirms its commitment to combating violence against women within its territory and globally.” All EU member countries have already signed up. The EU joining institutionally will allow Brussels to speak with one voice on the subject.

WHO — UK SPLASHING OUT ON DAVID NABARRO’S HEALTH SUPREMO BID: The British government is devoting staff and cash to local doctor David Nabarro’s bid to run the World Health Organization, Sarah Wheaton reports. But the May 23 vote for a new chief isn’t going to be a walk in the park for the Brit. There’s a strong sense that it’s Africa’s turn to lead the U.N. agency, and Nabarro’s passport is proving a hindrance in other ways too.

EU-ASIA — TALK-FEST ON INFRASTRUCTURE CONNECTING CHINA AND EU: China’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative is drawing 28 heads of state and government leaders for a conference in Beijing this weekend. The aim of the forum is to promote trade between Asia, Europe and Africa. Top billing goes to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen will represent Brussels. Background here from Fraser Cameron, director of the EU-Asia Centre, who is speaking at the summit.

US-EU IN-FLIGHT LAPTOP BAN: The European Commission has written to the Trump administration asking for urgent meetings to discuss any possible security concerns. To protect POLITICO’s source we can’t show you the original letter, but we reconstructed the exact text here.

DO YOU TRUST THE AVIATION SECURITY POLICY IS EVIDENCE-BASED? Brief input to playbook@politico.eu please.

WHAT DANES ARE TALKING ABOUT: The government is trying to find ways to get more men to take advantage of paternity leave.

CZECH REPUBLIC — FINANCE MINISTER READY TO LEAVE TO SAVE COALITION: Embattled Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has told POLITICO he is willing to be ejected from his post to resolve a crisis that threatens to break up the ruling three-party coalition and undermine President Miloš Zeman’s authority. But only if Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka accepts that his replacement will be someone from Babiš’s centrist ANO party.

FRANCE — MACRON EFFECTS …

Playbook’s high-end EU official sources say the German government is willing to back Macron’s French reform effort if he can show ambitious changes are underway by July. In practical terms that means they may support a “Buy European” policy. The sources certainly hope an additional Macron effect is more accountability in the next EU budget.

Macron economic adviser light on details: The room at Bruegel, an economic think tank, was so full Thursday that reporters sat on the floor drooling for insights into the upcoming Macron presidency. Many left disappointed after Macron’s adviser Jean Pisani-Ferry stuck to platitudes.

Pisani-Ferry at first stroked the audience by admitting that for France, “the status quo is unsustainable.” But he was not forthcoming with details, saying things such as: “Invest wisely in reforms that are going to deliver.” Macron’s Brexit red lines were “complacency, inaction and dogmatism,” Pisani-Ferry said.

The most concrete suggestions:

— Macron’s approach is “not a traditional liberalization agenda of dismantling protections.” Instead, he wants “to rethink social protection” so that it is more tailored, portable and flexible.

— Unemployment insurance for insecure workers “can go much quicker” than pension reform.

— Macron would use current low-interest rates to “to invest, to restructure.”

— His wish for a eurozone budget and finance ministry is not a synonym for eurobonds.

— The current EU budget is “a budget of the 80s” that must be modernized in 2019 negotiations.

FRENCH PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS …

Macron is betting on novices: The En Marche movement will field 428 candidates among France’s 577 seats. While it did not accept Manuel Valls and Bruno Le Maire as candidates, it will not challenge them for their seats. More than half the En Marche candidates have never held public office and the average age is 46. Pierre Briançon breaks it down.

Some big names among the newcomers: Mathematician Cédric Villani, Richard Ferrand, François de Rugy, the biodiversity junior minister Barbara Pompili, and François Hollande’s spokesman Gaspard Gantzer.

Don’t forget: There are two rounds in the parliamentary election. That makes it hard for the National Front to win large numbers of seats, because the anti-Le Pen voters can still rally behind a single candidate even if Le Pen’s party tops the first round vote. The most likely overall outcome is an En Marche minority government, or an En Marche-Républicains coalition arrangement.

Benelux takeaway: Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, adviser to Pavel Telička MEP, is running for the Benelux constituency for Macron’s party. French MEP Franck Proust will be the Républicains’ spokesman for EU issues for the next parliamentary elections.

UK ELECTION — LABOUR’S LAST-MINUTE SECURITY CONVERSION: Widely seen as weak on security and terrorism issues, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign bowed to internal pressure Thursday to make specific policy commitments on the theme. Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper got the scoop.

UK ELECTION — LABOUR’S SUPPORT SCHISM: Here’s a sobering stat for the Labour Party apparatchik: Fewer than half the people who voted for the party in 2010 plan to back it in June. Political scientists Matthew Goodwin and David Cutts analyze the latest data from the British Election Study to figure out who is abandoning the party and why.

BREXIT CORNER …

David Davis claims Juncker wants him sacked: The U.K.’s Brexit minister made the claim in a podcast with the Daily Telegraph’s Christopher Hope.

EU royalty in Ireland for Brexit tour: Michel Barnier delivered more symbolism than Brexit substance in his address to Irish parliamentarians. He pledged that “nothing in this negotiation should put peace at risk.” More by POLITICO’s Maïa de la Baume. Full speech here.

British royalty in Luxembourg for Brexit tour: The Daily Telegraph labeled the Duchess of Cambridge’s first solo tour as her launch as a “Brexit ambassador.” If that’s true, it didn’t shift the political needle much. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told reporters: “The European Union is the backbone of Luxembourg’s independence and prosperity.” 

UK senior civil servants fed up with six-day Brexit-filled weeks: The union for high ranking civil servants claimed Thursday in a written statement that “a quarter of staff are working the equivalent of a six-day week and one in ten is working the equivalent of a seven-day week.” The union complained the long hours compounded a decade without a pay increase and that members were sick of the government “sending out former ministers to tramp around the TV studios trashing the reputation of civil servants.” Ouch.

TRUMP WORLD — TRUMP’S ECONOMIST INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: Especially interesting on trade and his preferred “massive” renegotiation of NAFTA.

WEEKEND READS …

History department — Inside AP’s working arrangements with Nazi Germany: The Washington Post reports the Associated Press made a secret deal with Nazi Germany in World War II, including propaganda vetting.

Trump reaches for the Nixon playbook: When you made your name firing people, why not fire the man investigating your administration’s links to Russia? A skeptical Todd Purdum reviews Trump’s latest Nixonian move. U.S. veteran journalist and chronicler of Nixon’s downfall Elizabeth Drew wonders if history is repeating itself.

A dog’s Brexit: A good piece on what the Brexit deal might actually look like, from David Broucher, a former British ambassador who was involved in all EU enlargements from the 1970s to Croatia.

How Trump could get fired: The New Yorker explores the two paths possible to remove Donald Trump from the White House.

Tap water is good for the environment: But as the Guardian reports, Brits do not dare to ask for it.

How to revive TTIP: By Anthony Gardner, the former U.S. ambassador to the EU, now available for all readers.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

TROLLED: Brussels government has a gay rights message for national governments, via the Schuman roundabout.

SLAMMED: The European Youth Forum has lodged a complaint against the Belgian government, seeking to ban unpaid internships.

HAPPENING: Playbooker Alberto Alemanno’s “Lobbying for Change” book will launch today. The goal: demystify lobbying to do-it-yourself citizenship. Meanwhile, EU family lobby group COFACE holds a conference addressing hot-button migration issues including family reunification, portability of benefits across borders and moving online.

COMPARED: VoteWatch Europe compared how Belgium’s political parties (divided between Flemish and Walloon) voted in the European Parliament, and looked at whether domestic divisions carried over to the European level. The think tank found agreement varied depending on political party. The greens were the closest, with Flemish and Walloon greens voting the same way in 96 percent of all the votes. The EPP was the farthest apart, agreeing in 83 percent of cases.

CHANGING ROLES: Vandna Kalia, a communications adviser to Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, is moving to become a project manager in the Commission’s communications department. Aurélie Bladocha is leaving the European Competitive Telecommunications Association for the Fiber to the Home Council Europe.

APPOINTED: EU competition expert Pablo Asbo will join APCO Worldwide’s Brussels office from Cabinet DN.