16-05-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 16-05-2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Multi-bill brings new austerity measures worth 4.9 billion euros

The multi-bill that includes the new midterm fiscal plan and which MPs started debating on Monday in Parliament includes a heavy package of austerity measures amounting to 4.9 billion euros. This is necessary for Greece to collect the bailout installment of 7 billion euros in time to make a debt repayment in July.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218463/article/ekathimerini/business/multi-bill-brings-new-austerity-measures-worth-49-billion-euros

Athens and Beijing sign three-year action plan

Greece and China signed a “three-year action plan” for joint projects over the weekend that will see Greece claim a share of Beijing’s 100-billion-euro investment program for the countries on the so-called New Silk Road.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218464/article/ekathimerini/business/athens-and-beijing-sign-three-year-action-plan

GD ejected from House after spokesman assaults Dendias

Guards in Parliament on Monday ejected neo-Nazi Golden Dawn MPs after party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris verbally and physically abused Nikos Dendias, a conservative former minister.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218445/article/ekathimerini/news/gd-ejected-from-house-after-spokesman-assaults-dendias

Walkouts to disrupt transport and services

Commuters are in for three days of upheaval as public transport employees hold work stoppages as part of protest action timed to coincide with a general strike tomorrow and an austerity vote in Parliament on Thursday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218446/article/ekathimerini/news/walkouts-to-disrupt-transport-and-services

‘Road map’ for exit from capital controls released by finance ministry

The finance ministry, as expected, on Monday unveiled its “road map” for a further loosening of capital controls in the country, nearly two years after the Tsipras government imposed the unprecedented measure immediately after declaring a contentious referendum in the country.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1235609/road-map-for-exit-from-capital-controls-released-by-finance-ministry

Q1 brought a 0.5 percent contraction

Greek economy has paid a heavy price for the delay in the completion of the second review of the country’s third bailout and this is reflected in the official data for first-quarter gross domestic product, which contracted 0.5 percent year-on-year according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). The figures released on Monday also showed a 0.1 percent contraction from the previous quarter and the impact has also been felt in terms of state revenues.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218458/article/ekathimerini/business/q1-brought-a-05-percent-contraction

Moody’s: Greek GDP at 1.5% in 2017; 2% in 2018

Moody’s forecast GDP growth in 2017 at 1.5 percent, rising to 2 percent in 2018, while its outlook on Greek banks remained “stable”.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1235631/moodys-greek-gdp-at-15-in-2017-2-in-2018

ATHEX: Contraction, bank concerns exert pressure on local stocks

The correction process continued on Monday on the Greek bourse as the benchmark appeared to shy away from the 800-point mark on news of an economic contraction in the first quarter and Moody’s caution over the course of bad-loan management.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218442/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-contraction-bank-concerns-exert-pressure-on-local-stocks

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KATHIMERINI: The government presents a non-existing image

ETHNOS: New atrocities by Golden Dawn: Storm troopers raid the parliament

TA NEA: Lie after lie, recession after recession

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Isolate Golden Dawn!

AVGI: The fascists act provocatively inside the parliament

RIZOSPASTIS: May 17: Everybody join the general strike!

KONTRA NEWS: The whole truth about the measures to be voted in the parliament

DIMOKRATIA: The government does not understand economics

NAFTEMPORIKI: Inside a recession trap

IMERISIA: The economy experiences tremors

BERLAYMONT TO LIGHT UP IN RAINBOW COLORS: It’s Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans’ tribute to International Day Against Homophobia, with the support of other commissioners, and if all goes well technically it will be up and running from sunset tonight.

COUNCIL — POLAND AND THE RULE OF LAW: For the first time ever, EU ministers will discuss the state of the rule of law in a member country, specifically Poland, which has been under fire from the Commission for many months over reforms to the country’s constitutional court. Details here. Playbook’s Commission and diplomatic sources emphasized this is a small but significant step in ensuring national governments are made accountable for the promises they made when joining the EU. Governments have been resistant to even having this discussion and the Commission has felt caught between mere words and the nuclear option of attempting to suspend the Council voting rights of recalcitrant governments. Today’s discussion will serve as proof that a middle road exists.

NGOs pushing EU affairs ministers to act: Reporters Without borders, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society European Policy Institute and the International Federation of Human Rights published an open letter to ministers ahead of today’s meeting.

COUNCIL — EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA COUNCIL MEETING: At today’s meeting of EEA ministers (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), they’ll discuss climate change policy as well as sign off on a document listing concerns about EU draft laws currently under discussion. The non-EU members ultimately are forced to implement the laws despite not having a vote on them. Details here.

**A message from the EPP Group: The EU-U.K. divorce is going to be expensive. According to our opinion poll on Brexit, 88 percent of EU citizens believe the U.K. should settle its Brexit bill. “We are in line with that. Only once the divorce is settled, can a new partnership agreement be negotiated,” says our Chairman Manfred Weber.**

COUNCIL — FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER FEEDBACK: Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s foreign secretary, denied his government was blocking an EU military headquarters as he entered the Council building. “We’re just working on some of the language to make sure we get it totally right,” he told journalists.

COUNCIL — ROMANIA TO USE SAME BUILDING AS SLOVAKIA FOR PRESIDENCY: The Romanian government has authorized its permanent representation in Brussels to begin negotiations on a new rental agreement for a building for its 2019 presidency — the same one used by the Slovak government in 2016.

ECJ — HUGE SINGAPORE TRADE RULING: The European Court of Justice will hand down one of its most significant rulings in recent years at 9:30 a.m. today. The court will decide whether the European Commission has the right to strike the Singapore trade deal without the consent of EU member countries’ national and regional parliaments, setting a precedent for future trade deals like those with Mexico, Japan and, significantly, the U.K.

COMMISSION — BULGARIAN COMMISSIONER NOMINEE PORTFOLIO ANNOUNCEMENT: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is today meeting Mariya Gabriel, the MEP Bulgaria wants as its next commissioner.

COMMISSION COLLEGE AGENDA TODAY: At this week’s gathering of commissioners, attendees will discuss migration policy, economic surveillance of EU countries and security union measures. Later in the week, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will propose changes to exemptions to the EU’s state aid rules while EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn will present an updated strategy on the EU’s neighborhood policy.

PARLIAMENT — STRASBOURG PLENARY DAY 2: MEPs will debate the EU’s refugee policy, the Commission’s globalization strategy, the crisis in Syria (including the plight of Christians in the Middle East) and “the persecution of (perceived) homosexual men in Chechnya.” Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, will also give a keynote speech at around midday. Details here.

PARLIAMENT — COMMITTEE CHAIRS TO DISCUSS TWO BREXIT RESOLUTIONS: The conference of committee chairmen, the group which steers the policy side of the European Parliament’s work, will discuss a proposal to draft two Brexit resolutions, including one on citizens’ rights and a second on budget issues.

TRUMP WORLD …

Did Trump leak classified information to the Russians? That’s the question setting Washington ablaze overnight, after the Washington Post reported the U.S. president divulged highly classified information about the Islamic State to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during their Oval Office visit earlier this month. Officials reportedly obtained the information through an intelligence-sharing arrangement with a U.S. partner. The New York Times and Reuters confirmed the story and reported it themselves, despite the fact two senior national security officials denied it outright. This story will dominate a lot of European discussions today, particularly in the U.K., which has an especially close intelligence relationship with Washington, raising questions about whether this administration is a reliable partner.

The fact the media continues to report the story, and senior Republicans have expressed concern about it, regardless of the denials, speaks to a deep credibility problem in the Trump White House, reports Josh Dawsey. “When senior national security officials strode to a podium on the West Wing driveway Monday night, they spoke for an administration that has strained its credibility by issuing a series of false, misleading or tortured statements on far less important matters. And they spoke for a president who less than a week ago said publicly that his aides and surrogates can’t be expected to give accurate statements, because they don’t always know what’s going on.”

Chaos reigns in Trump world“The latest episodes reveal what senior aides and advisers privately say: The problems often come from the top,” write Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson and Josh Meyer. “’It never stops,’ one White House official said via text message Monday night. ‘Basically chaos at all times.’”

NATO — STOLTENBERG TO MEET BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, will today meet Ekaterina Zaharieva, Bulgaria’s new foreign minister.

BY THE NUMBERS — EUROPEAN PRIVATE FINANCE: Private equity fundraising for investment into companies across Europe hit its highest level since 2008 last year at €74.5 billion, a 37 percent year-on-year increase, according to new data from Invest Europe’s 2016 European Private Equity Activity report.

LAPTOP BAN READER FEEDBACK: After seeking reader views on how much you trust that airport and aviation security policies are evidence-based, think tank RAND Europe shared its research pile. Read here: Airport security | When 70 weapons evaded security detection | Costs and benefits of various security strategies. And one from the archives from 2012 on why we shouldn’t merely react to catastrophe but need strategies independent of individual events.

TRADE — EU DIPLOMATS REBUFF CHINA’S ‘MODERN SILK ROAD PLAN’: World leaders descended on Beijing Monday to discuss the Chinese government’s plans to boost international trade through infrastructure investment. EU governments decided not to sign up to a joint statement, however, over concerns about the environmental sustainability and tendering processes of individual projects. “We made clear that, for Europe, the Belt and Road initiative can only be a success if it’s based on transparency and co-ownership,” one high-level EU diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Guardian. “Apparently to Chinese surprise, the EU was united on this.”

TRADE — EASTERN EUROPE TURNS ITS BACK ON THE SINGLE MARKET: The EU’s newest members are also the strongest opponents to the bloc’s single market. Eastern European states argue competitors from the west are wiping out their farmers and stores, and have responded by rolling out laws to block foreigners from buying farmland. The European Commission sees the new rules as an existential threat to the single market and has hit back with infringement cases. Simon Marks breaks it down.

FRANCE — EMMANUEL MACRON NAMES ÉDOUARD PHILIPPE AS PRIME MINISTER: Philippe, 46, is the mayor of Le Havre from the conservative Républicains party. He is an ally and former aide of Alain Juppé, the former French PM and current Bordeaux mayor who ran unsuccessfully for the Républicains presidential nomination last year. Many years ago, Philippe was a fan of Michel Rocard, the former Socialist prime minister.

Pierre Briançon and Saim Saeed write that in selecting Philippe and nodding to the right, “the self-described centrist president who came of age in the Socialist ranks made an explicit bid to peel off a wing of the Républicains to build a new ruling coalition in June’s parliamentary elections.”

The Merkel-Macron meeting: “The French agenda will be a reform agenda,” Macron said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin following his first high-level talks since becoming head of state. The two leaders also agreed to develop a strategy on how to deepen EU integration and make the eurozone more resilient. They indicated they were open to treaty change, with Merkel saying: “I would be ready to do this, but first we will work on what we want to reform.”

Name games: Instead of Merkron, Playbook readers also suggested Macrel (Fredrik Wesslau) and Makrel (Peter-Carlo Lehrell).

To watch today: Philippe and Macron are expected to present the rest of the government. The latest information from Playbook’s source has Sylvie Goulard as EU affairs minister, rather than a foreign or economic. Treat all tips with caution until the final names are announced.

Why Macron chose Philippe, by Ben McPartland.

Sibeth Ndiaye, Macron’s Franco-Senegalese adviser, is making waves.

AUSTRIA — FAR RIGHT GETS A SECOND CHANCE: Having narrowly lost its bid to obtain the Austrian presidency last year, the far-right Freedom Party has its sights set on a forthcoming election, triggered by the collapse of the ruling coalition between the country’s center-left Social Democrats and center-right People’s Party. Current polls suggest it would be hard to form a coalition government without the Freedom Party, with the three parties each polling between 25 and 30 percent.

THE NETHERLANDS — COALITION TALKS FAIL: Edith Schippers, the minister charged by the Dutch king to mediate inter-party talks following the inconclusive March national election, said coalition talks failed over migration policy disagreements.

SPANISH CORNER …

Contenders for Socialist leadership fight it out: Some 190,000 members of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party will vote for one of three candidates: Susana Díaz, the regional president of Andalusia; Pedro Sánchez, the party’s former leader who is attempting a comeback after being forced to resign in October; and Patxi López, a former head of the Basque region. Díaz is considered favorite, but polling indicates the contest is closer than expected.

Rajoy backs euro bonds and a common unemployment fund: Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has joined the ranks of those demanding a deep overhaul of the eurozone.

GERMANY — SCHULZ LICKS HIS WOUNDS: After a devastating loss in regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Social Democrats leader Martin Schulz told supporters “Sometimes, a boxer takes a punch but this doesn’t mean that his opponent will win the next round.”

CENTRAL EUROPE — NEW PODCAST: For Freedom House’s Nations In Transit program.

UK ELECTION …

The People’s Labour Party: Here’s an interesting solution to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn conundrum: MP Frank Field, a party veteran, reckons MPs could elect their own leader in parliament and form a group called “People’s Labour” if the party suffers heavy losses in the June 8 election. Field told Charlie Cooper that if a majority of MPs backed a parliamentary leader, they could seek to declare that person the official leader of the opposition.

Another former Brussels bubble Conservative candidate: Move over Vicky Ford! Andrew Brown, a former Conservatives press intern from 2016, is now a candidate in Scotland for the seat of Glenrothes.

BREXIT CORNER …

Does Purdah apply in Luxembourg? Luxembourg Wort reports that David Jones, the U.K.’s deputy Brexit minister, met Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna, MPs and officials in Luxembourg on April 24. The meeting itself isn’t against the rules, but the strange secrecy around it begs the question of whether the content of the meeting was in the spirit of the limits placed on caretaker government.

Lord Kerr, the author of the EU’s Article 50 exit clause, is entering the fray again: In this podcast with Paul Adamson he says Britain is making demands about negotiations based on thin air. “The U.K. has made a negotiating error in that there is no paper on the table in which we set out our ideas for a framework for our future cooperation.” That said he also thinks the shadow boxing over the Brexit bill is against the interests of both sides: the U.K. should accept there is money to be paid, and the EU should be sensible about planning future trade relations. Tory ministers are also advised to stop accusations of election meddling: “There are no Putins in Berlin, Paris or Brussels.”

The ex files: Andrew Duff, a former MEP and EU treaty expert, on how Brexit is being mishandled by both sides.

EIB wants extra checks on UK projects: EU funds are currently being spent on the government’s “Midlands engine” project. However, due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit, the EIB is now demanding extra scrutiny of the project plan, potentially increasing costs.

GREECE — FRACAS IN PARLIAMENT: Golden Dawn’s Ilias Kasidiaris was thrown out of the Greek parliament Monday for assaulting an opposition lawmaker. Kasidiaris alleged the lawmaker walked in front of him while he was addressing an economics affairs committee.

ALBANIA — US DIPLOMAT CALLS FOR SMOOTH ELECTIONS: Elections are due June 18 as opposition parties are boycotting Edi Rama’s government. Balkan Insight has more.

PHOTO ESSAY — RUSSIAN SHADOW HANGS OVER LGBTQ COMMUNITIES IN GEORGIA.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

AWARDED: 7 Grand Prix laureates of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage have been announced.

CLOSING: Flanders Today, the English language Flemish newspaper, is on death’s door after the Flemish government withdrew its €930,000 annual funding for the outlet. The government said the English section of VRT’s news site deredactie.be was more popular than Flanders Today. Staff are running a campaign to save the outlet.