18-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

18-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mitsotakis pledges exit from crisis, more investments

In a speech on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Fair on Saturday night, the leader of the conservative opposition New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared that an ND-led administration would extract Greece from its protracted crisis while promoting the investments that will secure its transition to growth.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221733/article/ekathimerini/news/mitsotakis-pledges-exit-from-crisis-more-investments

Eurogroup warns Greece over review delays, ex-ELSTAT chief’s case

Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Tallinn on Friday sent a clear message that Greece needs to speed up the completion of its third bailout review, while also warning of the negative fallout from the continued prosecution of the ex-chief of the country’s statistical authority.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221693/article/ekathimerini/business/eurogroup-warns-greece-over-review-delays-ex-elstat-chiefs-case

ECB issues bad-loan warning

European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure on Friday gave the Greek government and the country’s banks a clear warning on nonperforming loans (NPLs) but suggested that the International Monetary Fund will not succeed in its demand for local lenders to undergo asset quality reviews (AQRs).

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221724/article/ekathimerini/business/ecb-issues-bad-loan-warning

Oil spill forces Greek authorities to close beaches near Athens

Greek health authorities have banned swimming along a long line of popular Athens beaches following extensive sea pollution from the sinking of a small oil tanker five days ago.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221709/article/ekathimerini/news/oil-spill-forces-greek-authorities-to-close-beaches-near-athens

Case of Kammenos link to convict shelved

The probe by judicial authorities into allegations by a convicted drug smuggler that Defense Minister Panos Kammenos tried to pressure him into testifying against prominent businessman Vangelis Marinakis, has been shelved.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221714/article/ekathimerini/news/case-of-kammenos-link-to-convict-shelved

ATHEX: No letup for bank stocks

Worries about local banks possibly having to undergo asset quality reviews – as the International Monetary Fund is again insisting – as well as the September triple witching, sent stocks tumbling and turnover soaring in the last session of the week at the Greek stock exchange.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221723/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-no-letup-for-bank-stocks

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: The three large ‘spots’ in Tsipras’ narrative: investments fiasco, additional measures in 2018, the ‘thorn’ of shipping Minister Kouroumplis

TO VIMA: Vicious clash between Tsipras and Mitsotakis: Battle of power in the economy field

REAL NEWS: Poison in our plates! Six highly-esteemed scientists warn that people should not eat fish or sea-food from the Saronic Gulf

PROTO THEMA: Interview with ECB representative, Francesco Drudi: “Four laws violate the bailout agreement”

AVGI: The state’s position regarding the arbitration procedure for Eldorado mining company: Investments are good but rules need to be followed

RIZOSPASTIS: Capitalists, the Greek government, the EU and the IMF are preparing to harm the people hiding their plans behind ‘fair growth’

MONDAY PAPERS

ETHNOS: The USA and the EU raise a shield for the protection of Greeks in Albania’s Himara

TA NEA: Cabinet reshuffle approaching due to the disaster in the Saronic Gulf and the delays in the development of the old airport in Elliniko

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Thatcher is the role model of New Democracy leader Mitsotakis

KONTRA NEWS: The smugglers mafia is killing the sea and tourism

DIMOKRATIA: Mitsotakis took the keys to the PM’s office

NAFTEMPORIKI: The noose for undeclared incomes tightens

King of the eurozone, Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, turns 75 today. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will celebrate the occasion via a speech in Offenburg, Germany.

THE END OF TECH’S POLITICAL IMMUNITY … 

Europe hasn’t been at the front lines of most of the digital revolution. Many leaders couldn’t or wouldn’t see the implications it would have on economies, identities and democracies. Impotence complemented the disinterest. Without a military-industrial complex and masses of venture capital to draw on, European entrepreneurs and governments have usually been out-gunned by Silicon Valley. But in one area, Europe has learned to fight back. Whether driven by jealously, terror and extremists or high ideals, Europe is a digital innovator when it comes to regulation, and that is starting to matter.

Vestager’s growing American fan club: European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has never been a popular figure in Washington. But as America turns skeptical toward Silicon Valley, she suddenly fits the changing mood, explains Nicholas Hirst. When she arrives in the U.S. today, her first trip since hitting Google with a record €2.42 billion fine, she will find lawmakers who are open to once-taboo European ideas on antitrust.

The Economist wonders if Vestager’s “bloody-mindedness” is about championing consumers, or herself.

Regulators without borders: The borderless web is great for global expansion, but it also leaves tech giants vulnerable to Europe exporting online rules. That dynamic will be on full display in Washington this week when the EU Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sit down to haggle over small changes to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which regulates how companies must treat people’s data as it flows across the Atlantic, writes Mark Scott.

May to push internet giants to do more on terror: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will make the issue a feature of her U.N. General Assembly appearances and discuss it with French President Emmanuel Macron.

EU countries pushing to tax tech companies: Ten EU finance ministers threw their weight behind a plan to tax the revenues of digital giants accused of paying minimal tax to their treasuries. The plan, proposed and heavily lobbied by France, would force major tech firms to start paying a tax on revenues in any country where they do business, instead of where they report it. Letter here, signed by France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria, Slovenia, Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania. The debate will continue in December.

Single IT system for EU customs union: “Having 28 different I.T. systems is not sustainable” in a single taxation area, said Estonia’s Finance Minister Toomas Tõniste after ministers met Friday. All data exchanged between customs authorities and businesses must be electronic from the beginning of 2021.

When popular products are no longer enough: An important read from BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith here, capturing how the political tide is going out for Silicon Valley. Bipartisan lobbies want to break up the biggest companies, which are being grouped together with oil and banking in terms of political perception. “These are the existential collisions with political power that can shake and redefine industries and their leaders.”

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — PORTUGUESE PRIME MINISTER ANTÓNIO COSTA

Playbook sat down with Costa after he delivered the opening address of the academic year at the College of Europe in Bruges. The speech — delivered in French — warned against divisions between north and south, core and periphery, or along any other axis in Europe.

How will the world’s oldest alliance — Britain and Portugal — cope with Brexit? “The United Kingdom will leave the European Union but remains a European country and certainly the strongest ally and strongest trading partner.”

EU unity on Brexit: “The truth is that it has strengthened the unity of the 27 and that’s very important for the future of Europe.”

Does Portugal want the Eurogroup presidency (soon to be vacant)? “Why not submit an application?”

On creating a eurozone finance minister: “This would obviously help to give coherence to the whole functioning of the European Union.”

On how to move Juncker’s ‘Future of Europe’ options forward: “I agree with him. This is not the time to do revision of the treaties … For me the priority is convergence and creating an instrument for convergence” between EU economies.

Marrying convergence and reform: “The reform plans of each country and the eurozone have everything to gain with the creation of a policy financing instrument for convergence … With a contractual basis and quantified targets with precise deadlines, we can create the conditions for financing this.”

What can Portugal teach France and others about reform? “There are no prêt-à-porter reforms. They must be tailored to the specific needs of each country … Have common rules that are indispensable and do not destroy democracy and citizens’ sovereignty.”

MORE STATE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION FALLOUT …

The real meaning of Juncker’s speech: the current system is ending. In his latest Brussels sketch, Tim King writes: “What matters is that another heavy blow has been aimed against the EU’s existing institutional arrangements, and that no one is prepared to explain or defend them, not even the president of the Commission.”

Decoding Dutch PM Mark Rutte’s broadside against Juncker’s ‘visions’: Caroline de Gruyter: “Rutte’s problem is not Juncker. The Commission protects small lands against larger ones. Rutte’s problem is that Merkel will eventually conclude compromises with Macron,” leaving the Netherlands feeling betrayed. “Only by talking about ‘visions’ can Rutte limit this damage.”

COMMISSION’S HEAVY TRAVEL SCHEDULE: In addition to many European Commissioners being in New York for U.N.-related eventsCommissioner for the Security Union Julian King is in Bucharest to meet Prime Minister Mihai Tudose and others, as well as visiting Romanian Border Control. Pierre Moscovici, European commissioner for economics and finance, on Sunday met Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. And as noted above, Jourová is in Washington D.C. to discuss the EU-U.S. privacy shield and Vestager to meet antitrust regulators.

NATO — UK’S STUART PEACH TO CHAIR MILITARY COMMITTEE: NATO’s chiefs of defense have elected Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, the chief of the British Defence Staff, as the next chairman of NATO’s military committee. He will take office in the summer of 2018, taking over from the Czech Republic’s Petr Pavel. The chair also acts as the principal military advisor to the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Knock-on effects for David Cameron: If the former U.K. PM is a contender to replace Stoltenberg (and it’s not clear he is), the pitch just got harder. Cameron winning the post would give Brits two of the top three positions in the alliance.

THE EX-FILES — ANTHONY GARDNER NEW APPOINTMENT: The former U.S. ambassador to the European Union will join law firm Sidley Austin as senior counsel, splitting his time between the firm’s London and Brussels offices. “I am eager to continue my involvement in U.S.-EU relations, particularly in trade, competition and regulatory issues, especially relating to the digital economy and data privacy,” said Gardner. Gardner is a busy man. He’s also a board member at Scottish Power and Brookfield Business Partners, an adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a senior non-resident fellow of the German Marshall Fund, and member of the Strategic Council of the European Policy Center.

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY PREVIEW …

Global leaders are descending on New York today for the start of the U.N. General Assembly, where U.S. President Donald Trump will give what is expected to be a speech offering warmth to his allies. Meanwhile Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will be jostling for prominence and relevance, writes Annie Karni.

From the EU side, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and High Representative Federica Mogherini as well as 10 commissioners will be in attendance. This evening the foreign ministers of the EU’s 28 member countries will attend a coordination meeting at the bloc’s HQ near the U.N. building.

Playbook’s Harry Cooper sat down with João Vale de Almeida, the EU’s ambassador the U.N., in New York to get his take on what to expect …

Korea, Syria, Myanmar, climate change: No single issue will dominate, although North Korea will be near the top, Vale de Almeida said. “It’s quite unprecedented that you have the entirety of the Security Council subscribing to a very tough resolution [on North Korea],” he said.

There’s ‘a great deal of curiosity’ about Trump, Vale de Almeida said, adding that Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is “very professional, very active.” He said the EU wanted to “preserve any possibility of the U.S. disinvesting from the U.N.”

A united front: Since 2011 the EU has had a unique status at the U.N. as an “enhanced permanent observer,” which gives Vale de Almeida the right to speak at the Security Council. He said in most cases, the EU28 were on the same page, although on issues like the Middle East peace process, there were differences. Even so, “there is no other group that is organized and coordinated as ours.”

Battle royale over the UN’s Paris climate agreement: U.S. officials denied a story published by the Wall Street Journal in which European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Change Miguel Arias Cañete hinted U.S. officials have signaled Washington could remain in a renegotiated Paris Agreement. That was before Rex Tillerson said Sunday it was a possibility.

SPAIN RECKONS WITH LEGACY OF AL ANDALUS: Spain’s geography and history also mean it has a unique relationship with the Muslim world, which arguably makes it more susceptible to jihadist attacks than many of its neighbors, writes Guy Hedgecoe.

ITALY — 5STARS AND FORZA ITALIA READY FOR ELECTIONS: Luigi di Maio is running to be the 5Star Movement’s prime ministerial candidate, La Stampa reports (h/t Alessio Pisanò). The FT takes you on a tour of all the questions left unanswered about the 5Stars. Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is now 81, hinted at a return to politics with a pro-European agenda at a meeting of his center-right party Forza Italia.

CZECH REPUBLIC — LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE EU: According to the World Economic Forum it’s because the Czechs set themselves up as the assembly center of Europe.

FRANCE — REPORTER RELEASED FROM TURKISH JAIL: Loup Bureau, a former student at the IHECS journalism school in Brussels, was freed after 51 days. More in Le Monde.

POLAND — MEPs JOIN PROTEST AGAINST EU PENSION RULES: Ryszard Czarnecki and Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, two conservative MEPs, spoke to several hundred unionists at a rally outside Warsaw’s EU office to protest against the EU’s rules that mandate an equal pension age for men and women.

WHAT SLOVENES ARE TALKING ABOUT: The small Balkan nation of 2 million beat Spain in the semi-final then Serbia in the final to win the European basketball championship.

GERMAN ELECTION CORNER …

How Germans see their country after 12 years of Merkel: Juurd Eijsvoogel for NRC Handelsblad, with great photos from Merkel campaigning in the early 1990s.

Battleground Berlin: Will Russian-Germans vote for the far right? Widespread support among Russian-speaking Germans is one of the key elements expected to propel the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany into the Bundestag in this month’s parliamentary election, writes Aleksandra Eriksson.

German greens caught in coalition dilemma: Once you’ve tasted power, as the German Greens did at the turn of the century, it’s hard to reject it again. Environmentalists will face that dilemma again after this weekend’s election, writes Janosch Delcker.

FDP seeks finance ministry: Germany’s Free Democrats want the finance ministry in exchange for joining Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, Alexander Hahn, a member of the FDP’s national executive, told Bild. “The FDP should enter no government in which it cannot name a finance minister,” he said.

BREXIT 360° …

The UK government will this morning propose a security treaty with the EU after Brexit: The British government’s latest position paper calls for “continued security, law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation.”

Liberal Democrats holding annual conference: Things started in an odd fashion, with leader Vince Cable calling Juncker “pompous, self-important and overpaid.”

Theresa May is in Canada: No prizes for guessing “Global Britain” will be a featured phrase as May seeks a trade deal, but her real challenge this week is how to handle Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s trashing of cabinet unity over the weekend.

ICYMI — Johnson went freelance with own Brexit vision: Theresa May has been slowly softening her Brexit stance, with the support of Chancellor Philip Hammond, since her 2016 Conservative Party conference and 2017 Lancaster House speeches. Johnson doesn’t like it, and eyes a route to Downing Street amongst the mayhem. Hence the article here, which was later posted on Johnson’s Facebook.

Johnson says ‘nothing to see here’: “All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit,” Johnson wrote as Home Secretary Amber Rudd went on Sunday television to warn him away from Brexit negotiations. “I don’t want [Johnson] managing the Brexit process … You could call it backseat driving, absolutely,” she said. The Telegraph reports Johnson will this week demand reassurances from May that she won’t agree to substantial payments to the EU after Brexit.

Chairman David Norgrove of the UK Statistics Authority says Johnson guilty of ‘clear misuse’ of official statistics: Full letter here. Johnson responded by accusing Norgrove of a “wilful distortion of the text of my article.”

Opinion — EU’s thousands of senseless tariffs punish the poor: Kevin Dowd on Brexit Central h/t Darren Grimes

Podcast du jour: Paul Adamson talks to economist Will Hutton.