18-07-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 18-07-2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nimetz sees chance to hold fresh FYROM name talks

The United Nations’ mediator in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name dispute, Matthew Nimetz, sees some opportunities for the resumption of talks between Athens and Skopje.


Report: Turkish research vessel continues activity in Cyprus’ EEZ

A Turkish survey and hydrocarbons research ship continues to sail within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to the latest reports from the island republic on Sunday.


Unnamed Greek govt source: No thought of return to markets, yet

A statement by a government source circulated through the state-run national news agency on Monday again deflated the prospect of a pending return of the Greek state to capital markets for its borrowing needs.


Tsipras heralds positive news in job market, chides judiciary

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attempted to change the main topic of discussion in the domestic political agenda Monday during a visit to the Labor Ministry, where he heralded positive developments in the job market and took another swipe at the judiciary.


Irianna, accused of membership in urban guerrilla group, denied appeal

The five-member Athens Appeals Court Monday rejected an appeal by a 29-year-old PhD student who was convicted last month of being a member of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, an urban guerrilla group known for carrying out a series of letter bomb attacks.


BoG: Tourism arrivals, revenues up in April 2017, compared with April 2016

The Bank of Greece (BoG) this week announced that tourism arrivals in April 2017 were up by 12 percent compared with the corresponding month in 2016, with the quarterly figure up by 3.2 percent.


Greece still unattractive for property sector investors

Greece remains among the least attractive destinations for foreign property buyers looking to make an investment. A list drafted by the Global Property Guide – an international provider of information for property investors – has placed this country 32nd among 36 states, as its prospects for an investor are seen as quite unattractive.


ATHEX: Benchmark may have run out of steam

The Greek bourse’s benchmark may have notched up more gains at the start of the week to reach a fresh 28-month high, but the hesitant investor moves throughout the day and the relatively low trading volume point to the market waiting for news about a bond issue by Athens and the likelihood that the recent rally may have come to an end.







 KATHIMERINI: Front against justice. The government maintains the tension with the justice system with new negative comments by PM Tsipras and Justice Minister Kontonis

TA NEA: PM Tsipras has become an alchemist and discovered a new reality during his visit at the Labor Ministry

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Justice on probation

AVGI: Something weird is going on in the justice system

RIZOSPASTIS: The vicious attack against workers cannot be hidden with government fiestas

KONTRA NEWS: German Finance Minister Schaeuble is to blame for the 13 cuts in Greek pensions

DIMOKRATIA: Former PM Simitis is a hypocrite

NAFTEMPORIKI: The online platform for out-of-court settlements is going to be launched in the next two weeks

Schulz trolls Trump: Former European Parliament president and current candidate for German chancellor Martin Schulz appears to have learned the golden rule of the internet: Attention comes to those who needle U.S. President Donald Trump. On the other hand, it’s not exactly a great campaign Plan A.


What an underwhelming first full day of Brexit negotiations. The U.K.’s negotiator David Davis started the day committing to making “good progress.” By lunchtime, the only progress was Davis’ — towards the Eurostar terminal for a train back to London. Soon after, Brexit campaigner Dominic Cummings launched an attack on Davis, calling him “lazy as a toad” and “thick as mince [meat].”

Does Davis’ absence matter? The optics are terrible: Davis can’t have anything more important to do, unless it involves saving his fragile government from either fratricide or defeat in the House of Commons. Neither is an appealing scenario. Yet the reality is negotiations will probably work better without him being there. More qualified civil servants, who are more evenly matched with the Commission’s team, will now plow on. What a strange world we live in.

Today’s Brexit negotiation schedule: Leaders of technical working groups meet at 9:30 a.m. Discussions on Ireland, citizens’ rights, financial settlement and other parts of the divorce start at 10:30 a.m. There’s a parallel meeting on governance of the negotiations from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Warning ahead: POLITICO broke the news Monday night that the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is prepared to issue a warning today, and if necessary “stall” Brexit talks, if the U.K. doesn’t get real about the need to negotiate its financial obligations. The almost-ultimatum will be intended to convey Barnier’s view that negotiations are futile without better engagement by the British side, according to diplomats our reporters spoke to.

What about the Brexit bill? Meeting participants are tight-lipped but a European Commission spokesperson confirmed the working group on the U.K.’s financial settlement had convened as planned.

But there is a British bill out today — the new Jane Austen £10 note.

The backdrop to negotiations is a UK cabinet in disarray: With Theresa May battling constant leaking and plotting, Annabelle Dickson reports she will attempt to reassert authority today (sounds much like last week’s “relaunch” to Playbook). Ex-PM David Cameron not only visited Downing Street Monday night, he continued the theme of extreme analogies and suggested there are several ministers he would like to “strap together” on a raft on a “very, very dangerous river.” Given the intensity of the internal battles, it becomes clearer why Davis — a potential alternate PM — felt the need to be in London rather than Brussels. Catch-up read: “May’s days” by Andrew Rawnsley for the Guardian.

How others saw it: The Guardian | FT: “All talk and no papers” | Brexit supporting papers the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph had nothing to say about the negotiations on their front pages.

Loss of rights: Matthew Holehouse of Mlex spotted an important admission in the legal analysis of the U.K.’s Department for Exiting the EU regarding the draft Repeal Bill and Equality Act. The Brexit lawyers wrote that loss of individual rights is a “natural consequence” of Brexit.

Multi-billion nuclear payout possibility: The U.K’s Energy and Industry Minister Richard Harrington admitted a September 2016 agreement clearing the way for construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project says contractor EDF can claim compensation if there’s a change in the British, EU or international law, policy or guidance applied to the project. The concern, first raised by the independent National Audit Office and Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister Alan Whitehead, is that leaving Euratom opens the door for a claim of more than €25 billion. EDF for its part wants the U.K. to stay in Euratom. h/t Sara Stefanini. More for POLITICO Pro Energy and Environment subscribers.

**A message from Aviva: ESG is on the agenda today, as the European Commission hosts a public hearing on the interim report of the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. Learn more about the work of the Expert Group here and find Aviva’s full set of recommendations in our digital toolkit. #SusFinEU**


The European Commission will debate the situation in Poland Wednesday, but there are no plans for a concrete outcome or any attempt to cut off EU funds. European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans “will present a possible way forward, in a calm and gradual manner, trying to convince them to come back to their senses,” according to a senior Commission source. A different Commission source said Timmermans — while active in condemning things like the intimidation of Polish journalist Dorota Bawolek — does not believe he can act before the draft law is in place.

Parliament pressure: The Commission had been trying to spread the burden and make national governments take action, but European Parliament says its the Commission that must take responsibility, and fast. Several parties in the European Parliament said Monday the “survival of democracy and rule of law is at stake.

Reality check: The EU may, for tactical or principled reasons, choose to avoid early criticism of Poland’s court reforms. If it chooses to be cautious, the EU cannot claim to be following precedent. Figures as senior as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have been happy to condemn Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for breaches of EU values, such as support of the death penalty, despite the fact Turkey is not even an EU member.

What’s next in Polish Supreme Court controversy: Poland could have its Supreme Court judges removed by mid-August, when EU and international attention will be diminished, if it continues to rush the process via tactics like 2:30 a.m. weekend votes. The Commission, according to Playbook’s source, could at its quickest react at the end of September through an “accelerated infringement procedure.” September 25 is also the next General Affairs Council, which gives national ministers another chance to scrutinize the Poles.

Podcast du jour — Poland explainer: Christian Davies of the Guardian explains what’s going on in Poland. Episode 1 and Episode 2.

Correction: In a Monday Playbook item about the Polish Supreme Court, in one instance we referred to the “Polish Constitutional Court” instead of the “Supreme Court.”

COUNCIL — MINISTERS DELIVER MEA CULPA FOR FAILING TO LET NGOs ACCESS TOP EU COURTS: Defying the European Commission, national ministers unanimously admitted Monday night the EU hasn’t upheld a commitment known as the Aarhus Convention, which obliges it to give NGOs the chance to challenge Brussels’ decisions in EU courts. A U.N. committee found in March the EU had breached its obligations.

The Commission is sticking to its guns but doesn’t really have a say in the matter, our energy team reports. A Commission spokesperson told POLITICO that the United Nations in its case against the EU doesn’t “recognize the special features of the EU legal order,” under which “access to justice is provided in most cases through the courts of the member states.” More background here for POLITICO Pro Energy and Environment and Agriculture and Food subscribers.

COUNCIL — MOGHERINI LEADS DISCUSSIONS WITH LEBANON AND MACEDONIA: EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini will meet with ministers from Lebanon and Macedonia. Mogherini is also set to travel to Kuwait this weekend to discuss the Qatar crisis, according to Playbook’s diplomatic source.

COUNCIL — LITHUANIA URGES REBALANCE OF ENLARGEMENT PLANS: Lithuania Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevičius told Playbook the EU is not doing enough to bring countries like Ukraine into the fold. “We lack certain balance in our policies, when it comes to [EU] membership perspective. Countries that share our values and policies should have it,” Linkevičius said.

In comments directed at Serbia, he said: “Some countries enjoy enlargement negotiations, while conducting military exercises with Russia near our borders, while other, highly motivated countries, with consolidated public support, facing sovereignty and military threats are not even given membership perspective … People died for the possibility to have a European choice and we are about to kill the whole eastern partnership policy by our own hesitation. Our decisions should be based on common goals, not internal politics,” Linkevičius added.

COMMISSION — OMBUDSMAN WANTS MORE INFORMATION ABOUT EX-COMMISSIONERS’ JOBS: Emily O’Reilly, the European ombudsman, wants more information about how the European Commission’s ad hoc ethics committee decided to waive through the jobs of former commissioners, including ex-President José Manuel Barroso, who joined Goldman Sachs.


JUNIOR GERMAN COALITION PARTNERS MATTER AS MUCH AS FRANCE: While Europe fawns over French President Emmanuel Macron, Mujtaba Rahman argues the more important variable now at play in the push to reform Europe is who Angela Merkel will choose as her coalition partner (assuming she stays on-course to win the German election in September). Another important consideration: which party will run the finance ministry. The answers to those questions will significantly determine what eurozone, budget and banking reforms the EU will achieve, Rahman argues.

FRANCO-GERMAN FIGHTER JET PLANS: The German Council on Foreign Relations has now published in English its analysis of “the biggest armament project imaginable in Europe at the moment” — announced late last week — which it describes as a major political and strategic leap.

GERMAN ELECTION — CONSERVATIVES REJECT SCHULZ’S INVESTMENT PACKAGE: Merkel and other conservatives cast doubts on center-left candidate Martin Schulz’s idea to introduce a mandatory rate of public investment.

FRANCE — MACRON FACING UPRISING ON DEFENSE CUTS: Pierre de Villiers, the head of the French military, threatened to resign if Macron slashes military budgets as planned.

SPAIN — CATALONIA’S MUTED ANTI-INDEPENDENCE VOICES: In the face of a passionate and glamorous campaign for secession, support in Catalonia for staying in Spain is fractured and quiet. “You probably won’t notice anything in Barcelona, but if you go to a small village in the interior and you’re not pro-independence, you’d better shut up,” Josep Borrell, a former candidate for prime minister for Spain’s Socialists, told Diego Torres.

SPAIN — SOCIALISTS, PODEMOS DISCUSS WORKING TOGETHER: Pablo Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Party, was in talks on Monday with Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, about working more closely together in congress. The two parties recently discussed entering into a coalition for the first time in the region of Castilla-La Mancha. More on El Mundo.

THE NETHERLANDS — NO POST-BREXIT DUAL CITIZENSHIP FOR DUTCH IN UK: PM Mark Rutte said if a Dutch citizen becomes a U.K. national after Brexit, they’ll have to relinquish their Dutch passport, in line with existing rules banning dual nationality. More on de Volkskrant.

ITALY — CITIZENSHIP BILL FOR MIGRANT CHILDREN DELAYED UNTIL FALL: A law giving the children of immigrants citizenship if they’re born on Italian soil and have been in school for five years has been delayed until the fall, according to Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano also rejected suggestions the government was about to give humanitarian visas to 200,000 migrants.

HUNGARY — NETANYAHU VISIT TRIGGERS STORM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest for a meeting of the four leaders of the Visegrád Group countries (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) today has drawn criticism in Israeli media, not least over the Hungarian government’s anti-George Soros campaign. The campaign is seen by many as anti-Semitic, but Netanyahu is known to dislike SorosInteresting NY Times op-ed on this dynamic.

The trip has been months in the making and is the first post-Cold War visit of an Israeli leader to Hungary. Hosting Netanyahu is a way for PM Viktor Orbán to push back against anti-Semitism charges without changing his approach to Soros. Netanyahu gains a trip full of flattery and business opportunities for Israel.

MONGOLIA FIRST: Never say Playbook doesn’t take you to the four corners of the Earth. Khaltmaa Battulga’s journey from yurt to martial arts champion to tycoon to Mongolian president is a modern adventure, writes Peter Pomerantsev. It wasn’t always easy to be a businessman in the country, where nearly 30 years after Communism ended, the biggest shopping mall is still the State Department Store. Battulga founded businesses everywhere one might look: hotels, taxi services, a national lottery, a television channel — even supermarket chickens. Sound familiar?

TRUMP WORLD — HEALTH CARE BILL COLLAPSES: The latest Republican plan to repeal Obamacare failed overnight.

APPOINTED: Emily Schultheis, a POLITICO and CBS News alum, is a 2017-18 Robert Bosch Foundation fellow. She has arrived in Berlin, where she will be working on a year-long reporting project on populism and elections in Europe.