18-05-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 18-05-2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bloomberg quotes EZ source: 50% chance of comprehensive solution for Greek program at Eurogroup meeting

Bloomberg quoted what it described as a high-ranking Eurozone official on Wednesday who forecast that the chances of achieving a comprehensive agreement over the Greek program at Monday’s Eurogroup meeting are “50-50”.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1236349/bloomberg-quotes-ez-source-50-chance-of-comprehensive-solution-for-greek-program-at-eurogroup-meeting

ECB executive board member: Greece must clear more hurdles before bond-buyback possible

A top ECB executive board member was quoted by Reuters on Thursday as saying that bailout-dependent Greece “must clear several more hurdles” before the Eurozone’s central bank can include the country’s bonds in its QE stimulus program.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1236587/ecb-executive-board-member-greece-must-clear-more-hurdles-before-bond-buyback-possible

Greek PM refers to optimistic scenario of debt relief, ‘investment tsunami’ and even tentative market return

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared optimistic on Wednesday over pending developments regarding debt relief measures for the bailout-dependent country, a prospect that his embattled coalition government needs to present as a “strategic success” in a desperate bid to overturn its collapsing popularity.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1236422/greek-pm-refers-to-optimistic-scenario-of-debt-relief-investment-tsunami-and-even-tentative-market-return

Thousands take to city streets to protest austerity

Thousands of people walked off the job for Wednesday’s general strike, the first this year, with protesters joining anti-austerity rallies in Athens and other cities that were largely peaceful.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218505/article/ekathimerini/news/thousands-take-to-city-streets-to-protest-austerity

Plan for bond issue in July if debt deal emerges

Greece is eyeing its first sovereign bond issue in three years as early as July if its international lenders specify longer-term debt relief for the country, and the European Central Bank includes it in its bond-buying program.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218494/article/ekathimerini/business/plan-for-bond-issue-in-july-if-debt-deal-emerges

Supermarket spending down 15 pct in two years

Supermarket expenditure in Greece has slumped almost 15 percent within two years, as according to data presented on Wednesday by MRB Hellas chief executive Dimitris Mavros, average monthly spending per household dropped from 280 euros in 2015 to 239 euros this year.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218502/article/ekathimerini/business/supermarket-spending-down-15-pct-in-two-years

Asset Register, fuel flow data put off to 2019

The creation of an Asset Register (Periousiologio) may have been announced some 10 years ago but it remains on paper only. According to the business plan of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, it will not be fully operative before March 2019.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218498/article/ekathimerini/business/asset-register-fuel-flow-data-put-off-to-2019

ATHEX: Stock market defies gravity for a 12th day

The main index of the Greek stock exchange made it 12 in a row on Wednesday for the first time since its 1999 heyday, as it continued its push toward the 800-point mark. The general picture, along with the recovery of bond prices, points to a return to normality for the local market after the government’s agreement with the country’s creditors.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218320/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-stock-market-defies-gravity-for-a-12th-day

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KATHIMERINI: The “bill” for pensioners will reach 6,5 billion Euros until 2021

ETHNOS: The political climate is changing

TA NEA: The counter-measures are an illusion

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Tight tie

AVGI: Opportunist opposition

RIZOSPASTIS: Yesterday’s successful strike was an answer to the government which is going to continue today with rallies

KONTRA NEWS: Unions and Memorandum parties suffered defeat

TO PONTIKI: “Rain” of measures – debt alleviation “locked”

DIMOKRATIA: Tsipras gets a tie but the people get a noose

NAFTEMPORIKI: The riddle of surpluses

IMERISIA: Triple bet for the next day

COUNCIL — DEFENSE MINISTERS GATHER: They will discuss ways of boosting EU-NATO cooperation as well as strengthening the use of EU battle groups made up of member countries’ armed forces.

In a historic shift, the top figures at today’s meeting will be women. Until 2002, Finland was the only EU country to have had a female defense minister (twice). Today’s meeting will see Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, France’s Sylvie Goulard, Italy’s Roberta Pinotti, Spain’s María Dolores de Cospedal, the Netherlands’ Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and the EU’s Federica Mogherini run the table.

The U.K. is, of course, a significant power, represented by Michael Fallon, but with his government currently in caretaker mode and soon to be out of the EU, and Britain never a country to support deep EU defense cooperation anyway, he’s certainly in the shade today. Norway, outside of the EU, has had five female defense ministers.

The Netherlands and Germany on a ‘tourist mission’ in Mali: Bruxelles 2 questions whether Dutch and German soldiers are doing anything substantial to stabilize the country, pointing out that a lack of French speakers may be contributing to limited impact.

**A message from the EPP Group: It’s about time! A month from now, Ukrainians will be able to travel freely anywhere in the EU after the European Parliament officially signed the visa liberalization package with Ukraine. To the people of Ukraine this is a strong message that the EU respects the European choice of Ukraine.**

COUNCIL — HOME AFFAIRS AND ENERGY MINISTERS ALSO MEETING: Migration, asylum and terrorism are on the home affairs agenda. European Commission’s Maroš Šefčovič and Miguel Arias Cañete join ministers in Malta to discuss energy efficiency proposals.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs TAKE ACTION AGAINST HUNGARY: In a resolution adopted 393 votes to 221, European Parliament has started the Article 7 procedure that could strip Hungary of its voting rights in the Council of the European Union. MEPs instructed the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to draw up a formal resolution for a plenary vote that would trigger the EU’s so-called nuclear option. Maïa de la Baume has more.

EPP split down the middle on Hungary: Playbook has been noting for weeks the growing divisions inside the European People’s Party on how to handle its recalcitrant Fidesz party, led by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. On Wednesday, the clearest sign yet of a real cleavage: half of the EPP’s 215 MEPs voted against the tough Hungary resolution, while the other half backed it or abstained.

Meet Orbán’s (big) mouth: Zoltán Kovács, Orbán’s “effective and tireless mouthpiece,” has a reputation for being slick and ruthless, writes Lili Bayer in this profile of the Hungarian PM’s spokesman. The smooth-talking Kovács has the respect, if not the admiration, of many of his opponents. But his demands for more positive coverage of the Hungarian government don’t always have the desired effect.

COMMISSION — VESTAGER TO GO AFTER FACEBOOK: Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s competition commissioner, is expected to levy fines against Facebook today for misleading officials during its €20-billion acquisition of WhatsApp, according to people familiar with the case. Vestager will not be in Brussels today, however.

COMMISSION — NO RESOLUTION ON IN-FLIGHT LAPTOP CONCERNS: The meeting between EU and U.S. officials to discuss America’s laptop ban ended with no result. A follow-up meeting has been set for next week in Washington.

EU left in the dark on laptop ban as Trump shares intel with Russia.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — EU’S CLIMATE DIPLOMACY HITS TOP GEAR: Ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit, where Trump may declare his hand on the Paris climate agreement, the EU has intensified a diplomatic campaign with its international allies to persuade the U.S. to stay in. Without Trump, the Paris agreement will survive, but is unlikely to thrive.

The EU playbook will include: The first-ever EU-China-Canada trilateral ministerial meeting in Berlin next week and a big climate announcement by EU leaders at the June 2 EU-China summit. Today at noon Brussels time the EU will announce that it and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (half the Paris signatories) have a joint position on the implementation of Paris agreement goals, with a view to getting global consensus by 2018.

The EU will also provide €3 million to support Fiji’s presidency of the global climate action process known as “COP,” which will culminate in a global conference in November. European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete told Playbook: “We are all in, and our joint commitment to this agreement today is as in Paris: irreversible and non-negotiable.”

**A message from the European Business Summit: Join Wolfgang Schäuble, German Federal Finance Minister, Philip Hammond, British Chancellor of the Exchequer and Luis de Guindos Jurado, Spanish Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and other high-level speakers debating the role of Europe in the world. Register now and take part in the European Business Summit on 22 – 23 May. See the full program and the speakers here.**

COMMISSION — PUBLIC INVESTMENT RULES UPDATED FOR PORTS AND AIRPORTS: Governments will be able to plow up to €150 million into sea ports of all sizes, and €50 million into inland ports, without waiting for authorization from the European Commission (which monitors and acts against government subsidies that significantly distort market competition). Governments can also invest in or subsidize 420 airports across the EU that have less than 3 million passengers a year each (including 90 regional airports in Nordic countries). Europe’s 100 biggest airports are unaffected.

The official reason: Everyone is complying with the spirit of the EU rules anyway and reviewing small cases is taking resources away from more important ones like tax cheating.

ICYMI — NATO SCRAMBLES TO TRUMP-PROOF PRESIDENT’S BRUSSELS VISIT: This is the story neither side wanted to read, but given Robbie Gramer’s A-grade connections in the transatlantic security community, you should take a look at the ways some NATO folk are “freaking out.” “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child.” Full story in Foreign Policy.

Highlights: “To avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span,” NATO “is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time.” Plus: “The alliance scrapped plans to publish the traditional full post-meeting statement meant to crystallize NATO’s latest strategic stance.”

IRELAND — ENDA KENNY GOING, GOING … Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny stepped down as leader of the Fine Gael party on Wednesday night, but will continue as taoiseach until the parliament chooses a successor. Fine Gael does not have a majority in parliament, so a contested vote is possible. Kenny’s statement.

Irish leadership tracker: Handy guide from the Irish Times.

ICYMI — Meet the contenders: Naomi O’Leary on the three contenders who are jostling for the top job: Leo Varadkar, the openly gay minister for social protection, Simon Coveney, housing minister, and Frances Fitzgerald, justice minister and deputy prime minister.

FRANCE — GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY: French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday appointed his first cabinet. Breaking down the 22 members: 11 are men and 11 women, they are aged 33 to 69, 10 have never held public office, and they come from across the political spectrum, apart from the far-right National Front.

Takeaways: Pierre Briançon in Paris writes the cabinet is in line with what the new president promised during his campaign. One interesting point: In choosing Édouard Philippe from the conservative Républicains party as his prime minister, Macron became the first president in the history of modern French institutions to select a PM from the opposite camp without being forced to do so by voters.

The new ministers in a sentence …

Gérard Collomb, interior: The top cabinet post goes to an early Macron backer, the Socialist mayor of Lyon.

Bruno Le Maire, economy: Former Républicain minister and writer of erotic novels.

Sylvie Goulard, defense: The most senior female minister is as Europhile as they get: an MEP, former EU official, former teacher at the College of Europe and former president of the Movement for Europe.

François Bayrou, justice: Three-time presidential candidate who won 18 percent of the vote in 2007.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, foreign affairs: Hollande minister who was a deputy mayor before Macron was born.

Nicolas Hulot, environmental transition: Left-wing environmental campaigner who endorsed Jean-Luc Mélenchon for president and opposes pesticides and nuclear energy.

Richard Ferrand, cohesion of territories: En Marche general secretary.

Agnès Buzyn, solidarity and health: Cancer specialist and daughter of a concentration camp survivor.

Françoise Nyssen, culture: Born and raised in Brussels, ran the publishing company Actes Sud.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, education: One of the top executives from the French business school Essec.

Muriel Pénicaud, labor: Madame multinational with a CV including Dassault Systèmes, Danone, Orange, SNCF, Aéroports de Paris, Business France.

Jacques Mézard, agriculture and food: Fierce secularist.

Gérald Darmanin, budget: A 34-year-old son of a cleaner and a bar owner who managed Nicolas Sarkozy’s failed bid to return to the Elysée.

Frédérique Vidal, higher education: President of Nice University, supports progressive postgraduate migration policies.

Annick Girardin, overseas departments: MP for France’s Saint-Pierre et Miquelon off the coast of Canada.

Laura Flessel, sports: Winner of more Olympic medals than any other French woman (five).

Élisabeth Borne, transport (junior ministry under Hulot): President of the Paris transit system RATP.

Marielle de Sarnez, European affairs: Little-known liberal MEP since 1999.

Secretaries of state …

Christophe Castaner, spokesperson and in charge of parliamentary affairs: Parliamentary rapporteur for the Macron Law in 2015.

Marlène Schiappa, gender equality: Feminist blogger.

Sophie Cluzel, disabilities: Rights campaigner and mother of a daughter with Down syndrome.

Mounir Mahjoubi, digital affairs: A 33-year-old of Moroccan descent who set up an internet platform for connecting small farmers to local consumers.

Communications firm Red Flag created a “top trumps” guide to the team.

Meet Macron’s diplomatic brains: Philippe Étienne is Macron’s new diplomatic adviser. Étienne knows how to manage a crisis, gets Russia, is comfortable with great power diplomacy and willing to act, Nicholas Vinocur writes. “As ambassador to Germany since 2014, Étienne knows firsthand how deep the skepticism runs in Berlin on France’s ability to reform, and how much reluctance there is to overhaul the eurozone. As former ambassador to the EU, he also knows how quickly reformist idealism can fall flat. As point-man in the Georgia crisis, he has few illusions about the difficulty of negotiating with Putin.”

SPAIN — CORRUPTION PROBLEMS CONTINUE TO BLIGHT COUNTRY: Spanish institutions have failed miserably to prevent graft, so now judges are cleaning up the mess, writes Diego Torres. “Putting Spain’s elite in jail hasn’t been easy. Insiders describe a daunting task in which they have to put up with scarce resources, overcome political and media pressure, deal with a judicial hierarchy chosen for its ideological proximity to politicians, and outmaneuver a government capable of hampering investigations.”

AUSTRIA — CAN KURZ DO A MACRON? Austria will go to the polls October 15 after the coalition government collapsed this week. Sebastian Kurz, the country’s 30-year-old foreign minister, is trying to model his campaign on that of Emmanuel Macron.“We have decided that we are starting a movement,” said Kurz at a press conference.

THE NETHERLANDS — SCHIPPERS REAPPOINTED: The Dutch parliament on Wednesday reappointed Edith Schippers, the center-right outgoing health care minister, to lead the new government formation process after an earlier attempt to form a coalition failed.

BELGIUM — PARLIAMENT CAPS ITS OWN SALARIES: Belgian MPs will not be able to earn more than 150 percent of their parliamentary salary.

CZECH REPUBLIC — NEW FINANCE MINISTER EASES GOVERNMENT DISPUTE: Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka accepted the nomination of ANO 2011 member and former Microsoft executive Ivan Pilný to replace controversial business magnate Andrej Babiš as finance minister.

MALTA — LEADERS SPAR IN UNIVERSITY DEBATE: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat faced down allegations of corruption throughout Wednesday’s election debate at the University of Malta with the leaders of four other political parties. “Queues outside the venue started some two hours prior to the start of the debate, there was a heavy presence of security officials and members of the police force. At times tension and jeers enveloped the hall,” Josef Cutajar, one of around 800 students in the audience, told Playbook. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil made a new set of money-laundering allegations against Muscat’s chief of staff.

ALBANIA — MCALLISTER PACKAGE ADOPTED TO BREAK POLITICAL IMPASSE: Albania’s main opposition coalition said Wednesday it had accepted a so-called “McAllister Plus” package, a compromise proposal put forward by MEP David McAllister, chairman of European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, which seeks to stabilize the country’s politics before the June 18 parliamentary election.

MACEDONIA — NEW GOVERNMENT: Having blocked opposition Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev from forming a coalition government with a smaller ethnic Albanian party for several months, President Gjorge Ivanov gave him the mandate to do so Wednesday.

TRUMP WORLD — DOJ NAMES SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR RUSSIA PROBE: The U.S. Justice Department has named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election, including any possible involvement of Trump’s campaign in that effort.

7 questions that explain the special counsel“People are fearful whatever they’ve done”

CHINA — DRAFT INTELLIGENCE LAW RELEASED: The proposed law would give authorities new powers to monitor suspects, raid premises and seize vehicles and devices. The law would require all organizations and citizens to “cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work,” and for all state-owned bodies to cooperate in the placement of national intelligence staff within their organizations. The public has one month to comment.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

INFLEXIBLE: Thalys is reducing the benefits of its silver status frequent traveler scheme. From June 1, silver card holders will no longer have the option to take the train before or after their ticketed one without penalty.