19-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

19-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU


Thursday, October 19, 2017

F-16 deal causes turbulence in the ranks of government

There was said to be dismay within the government on Wednesday that the main focus of Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and US President Donald Trump was on the 2.4-billion-dollar deal struck to modernize Greece’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets.


Τsipras in Washington: Happy the IMF isn’t asking for more austerity, insists on debt relief

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras “stayed on message” during an address at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C. on Wednesday afternoon, underlining that the still bailout-dependent country is finally exiting a nearly eight-year economic crisis and that his leftist-rightist coalition government is “investor friendly”.


ND leader presents his reform plan in Brussels

In a meeting with European commissioners aligned with the European People’s Party in Brussels on Wednesday, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis presented his alternative program of reforms for Greece’s post-bailout era.


Large Property Tax being mulled

The government is considering getting rid of the Single Property Tax (ENFIA) and bringing back the Large Property Tax (FMAP) next year, provided that Finance Ministry committees manage to harmonize property prices used for tax purposes (known as “objective values”) with actual market rates.


Refugees relocated, others go to mainland

A group of 234 refugees boarded a charter flight from Athens to Lyon, France on Wednesday as part of the European Union’s relocation program, while dozens more migrants, deemed to belong to vulnerable groups, were transferred by ferry from the islands of the Aegean to mainland Greece.


Study: Slow but steady rise in number of women heading up Greek businesses, top management spots

A report by Athens-based ICAP Group shows the number of women in top management positions or as the heads of businesses as slowly but steadily rising, with the trend particularly evident in smaller sized firms.


BSH Hellas to shut historic Rendi factory

The BSH Hellas plant at Rendi, near Piraeus, faces closure. One of the country’s oldest factories, it was renamed after Bosch-Siemens Hausgerate GmbH bought out Pitsos, a Greek company established in 1865.


ATHEX: Bank stock decline leads Athens bourse lower

Wednesday’s session at the Greek bourse was almost identical to Tuesday’s, with moderate losses for the majority of stocks, with trading volume remaining below 40 million euros and investors playing the waiting game.







KATHIMERINI: Government is planning to impose a Large Property Tax

ETHNOS: The F-16 deal irritated Ankara

TA NEA: Flying liars. Even the country’s creditors demand explanations about the F-16 deal.

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Law is whatever the judges say. Council of State rules that certain provisions of wealth-origin controls are unconstitutional

AVGI: The Council of State issues provocative decision regarding controls of wealth-origins

RIZOSPASTIS: “Whitewashing” of capitalism and dangerous deals for the people  

KONTRA NEWS: Treason: The successful meeting between Tsipras and Trump was deemed unsuccessful by the ‘godfathers’ of the media

TO PONTIKI: Miracle!!! Greece invests in the warfare industry of the US creating jobs.

DIMOKRATIA: Total makeover for the ENFIA Single Property Tax

NAFTEMPORIKI: The thorns in the negotiations between Athens and its creditors

DID ANGELA MERKEL PROMISE TO GET MARTIN SELMAYR SACKED? That’s the claim in this story in the Sun newspaper, citing an anonymous source. “The allegations are entirely unfounded,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman, told Florian Eder, author of POLITICO’s Morgen Europa.


POLITICO will run a summit live blog from 9 a.m. Brussels time.

Pre-summit party meetings: European People’s Party, Socialists and Liberals all meet over the lunch period. EU leaders are expected to arrive from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Leaders will meet in the old Justus Lipsius building, not the new Europa “Space Egg,” after yet another toxic fumes incident Wednesday in the building.

Latest draft conclusionsWall Street Journal reports strong support from national capitals for European Council President Donald Tusk’s 2018-19 work plan.

Macron brings zest and risk to the summit table: French President Emmanuel Macron’s ideas form the core of Tusk’s work plan. But while Macron is the flavor of the month, the challenge, David Herszenhorn, Nicholas Vinocur and Jacopo Barigazzi report, is to ensure his high-flying ambitions don’t fracture the unity EU leaders have cultivated since Brexit.

May to stick to her Florence script: That’s except for a letter of reassurance to EU27 citizens living in the U.K. posted on Facebook and emailed directly to 100,000 EU citizens who have contacted the government for information on their status. May insisted in her letter that all those currently living legally in the country “will be able to stay.

Move to ease Turkey tensions: Reuters reports there’s little appetite for Berlin’s hard-line approach to Ankara among other EU leaders, and Merkel won’t push for Turkey’s membership bid to be formerly canceled.

Muscat on the defense after journalist’s murder: Malta’s PM Joseph Muscat said he was ready to defend his government’s rule of law record in the wake of the car bombing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. “This is not a country where the government is trying to hijack institutions,” Muscat told the FT. “[But] I think this is a wake-up call for everyone — to understand that everyone is watching us, and to understand that the pace of change needs to be faster.” He said he would point to his government’s record on institutional reform if other leaders raised concerns about Malta at the summit.

Disappearing summit update: In Wednesday’s Playbook, we noted the case of the disappearing day-after-Brexit summit. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union speech called for a special meeting to be held the day after the U.K. exits the EU — March 30, 2019. But as revealed in a letter about the Union’s future and accompanying agenda sent to EU leaders Tuesday, Tusk called the summit for May 9 instead. Tusk’s spokesman Preben Aamann explained the date was more suitable because it would not be ideal to meet just after Brexit to celebrate. At Wednesday’s midday briefing, Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas denied the move was a snub.

Another journalist denied summit accreditation: Following Sun writer Roddy Thomson’s problems, Italian radio journalist (and Playbook guest author) David Carretta has also been blocked from attending today’s summit. The problem, according to Carretta: an already resolved minor car accident.


Hungary: Supportive of Tusk for reflecting the various speeds of EU members; have been in heavy diplomacy mode with France on issue of “posted workers.”

Slovakia: Believes there are still big divisions on the issue of posted workers, but a solution is possible next week.

Italy: Said government are keen to keep “Future of Europe” discussions in national hands, taking over from Juncker’s preparatory work.


CHINA’S NEW 30-YEAR ROADMAP TO OVERTAKE THE US AND DOMINATE GLOBE: Xi Jinping in a three-and-a-half-hour speech to his Communist Party laid out a 30-year road map charting China’s path toward being a great power. By 2050, China will be a model for “whole humankind,” Xi said.

Top claims: China will become “more and more open,” Xi said. It will also “significantly ease market access, further open the service sector, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors.” More from Bloomberg.

ECFR questions whether China really does have a grand strategy in a new report that brings together the views of prominent Chinese scholars on the evolution of strategic thinking in China since the 1970s.


PUTIN GETS AN OPPONENT, OF SORTS: Ksenia Sobchak announced overnight she would challenge her rumored godfather, Vladimir Putin, for the Russian presidency (assuming he runs). Russian opposition figures say the one-time Playboy model’s  presidential bid is a Kremlin-organized sham, writes Marc Bennetts.

“Ksenia Sobchak — the socialite, journalist, former opposition figure and daughter of Vladimir Putin’s political mentor — announced her candidacy for president Wednesday, courting a protest vote in a presidential bid that appeared to get official approval from the Kremlin,” is the fantastic opening paragraph of Andrew Roth’s piece for The Washington Post.

COMMISSION — TERRORISM AND ENCRYPTION: The European Union will boost its law enforcement agency and free up funding to help police break encryption, but Europe’s most powerful governments want broader access to chat messages and data. Plans include a “toolbox” to help national law enforcement and €500,000 to train European police and boost police agency Europol’s ability to hack into phones, computers and private messages.

COMMISSION — MICROPLASTICS IN EU CROSSHAIRS: The Commission wants tighter rules for plastic packaging as well as new standards targeting sectors such as construction to boost recycling, according to a draft of the Plastics Strategy obtained by POLITICO. Marion Solletty has more for POLITICO Pro Energy and Environment and Agriculture and Food subscribers.

ICYMI — MARGRETHE VESTAGER’S TED TALK: It’s on the new age of corporate monopolies. The EU’s competition commissioner asks: What if “compliance with the rules was built into the algorithms by design?” and says “Europe is open for business, but not for tax evasion.”

PARLIAMENT — PANAMA PAPERS FINAL REPORT: After a year of Parliamentary investigation on the outcomes of the Panama Papers scandal in Europe, MEPs are renewing a push to crack down on tax dodgers. But that move is probably in vain, as it relies on adherence to non-binding recommendations, writes POLITICO’s Bjarke Smith-Meyer for POLITICO Pro Financial Services subscribers.


In a wide-ranging, on-stage interview in Brussels Wednesday, the commissioner for justice, consumer affairs and gender equality covered everything from online terror content to sub-standard food, and from Catalonia to personal revelations about Europe’s sexual harassment culture. You can watch the full interview here. Highlights …

Jourová joins #MeToo movement: She said she had been a victim of sexual violence and urged others to report their stories. “Don’t keep it with yourself,” she said. “Go and find the helping hand. Don’t be ashamed to say it … We have to change the perception of the society that this is something normal.” Jourova’s answers on the topic starts from the 10:45 mark of the video.

Mistakes on both sides in Spain: “I’m sorry that very probably there was not the proper political dialogue between the Spanish and Catalonian side, because things simply went too far. And I think that we saw mistakes on both sides.”

EU to ask US for online privacy changes: The European Commission wants the U.S. government to improve its data protection regime but will stop short of suggesting a time frame.

Jourova’s message to the Dutch government: Join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to protect your money better.

EU will create its own blacklist for money-laundering countries “by the end of next year” rather than relying on the work of the inter-governmental body, called the Financial Action Task Force.

New collective lawsuit proposal for March 2018: “I would like to propose … a collective redress possibility, which will be done in the package in March 2018, the new deal for consumers,” she told the audience.

BREXIT 360° …

David Davis is on a Continental media tour this morning: Britain’s Brexit secretary has short interviews in today’s Die Welt, El Pais, Le Figaro and La Repubblica.

Jeremy Corbyn is on a Brussels trolling tour: The U.K. Labour leader will meet EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, as well as the prime ministers of Italy, Sweden and Portugal, who are all from the same center-left political family.

What happens at the Brexit cliff edge: David Herszenhorn writes that if the U.K. leaves the EU on March 30, 2019, without a formal withdrawal agreement, planes won’t fall out of the sky — but they might not be able to fly. “Ports on each side of the English Channel will be paralyzed by new customs checks, with queues of trucks likely stretching for many miles, clogging roads. Fresh produce, caught in the shipping delays, will rot. Meanwhile, tons of decomposing garbage normally shipped for processing on the Continent will pile up in the U.K.”

This is what the Brexit cliff edge looks like in 11 key policy areas.

Brits think Germans care about Brexit. They don’t. Matthew Karnitschnig disabuses outsiders of the notion Brexit holds any meaningful place in German political debate.

Thread of the day: FT’s Chris Gilles revisited his 1981 memories of his parents importing a German car, to point out the EU’s single market benefits.

How the EU will prepare for trade talks: Bloomberg pieces together 15 areas where the EU will make plans for the post-Brexit EU-U.K. relationship, from financial services to fishing.

Opinion — Transition deal is a ‘dangerous diplomatic fiction’: The latest message from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the pro-Brexit Daily Telegraph.

Commissioner Phil Hogan freelances on Brexit and Ireland: Some are starting to wonder whether Hogan is becoming the EU’s Boris Johnson. Top quotes from Hogan’s speech at the launch of Tony Connelly’s new book “Brexit and Ireland” in Brussels: “Only serious engagement and realism can deliver an agreement to move forward by December,” and “It is painfully clear that the U.K. government is not going to propose workable solutions for the benefit of the island of Ireland.”

Oops: Journalist Jeremy Cliffe quit his new political movement after 12 hours. The perils of being a liberal Economist journalist, eh?

MEDIA FREEDOM: This tool, managed by several NGOs, maps violations of media freedom on a daily basis in Europe.


Where France goes the EU will follow when it comes to the internet, writes former Googler and now CEPS staffer William Echikson.

EU trade, the Martin Selmayr way: The chief of staff to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker prefers analog to digital trade deals, write Jakob Hanke, Joanna Plucinska, Hans von der Burchard. Selmayr this month blocked a plan supported by advocates of digital trade in Brussels and EU capitals to include data in future trade agreements, which critics warn could set a dangerous precedent for the bloc’s potential global leadership on trade in data.

Italy’s schools to teach students how to spot online conspiracies: The New York Times on an initiative to be rolled out in 8,000 high schools across the country starting October 31.

GERMANY — MERKEL MOVES A STEP CLOSER TO FORMAL COALITION TALKS: Merkel separately launched exploratory talks with the liberal Free Democratic Party and the Greens on Wednesday.

FRANCE — HOW VISEGRÁD COUNTRIES VIEW MACRON’S REFORMS: Milan Nič for the German Council on Foreign Relations.

PORTUGAL — MINISTER RESIGNS OVER FIRE DISASTERS: Portugal’s Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa has resigned, reports Euronews, while Paul Ames writes the prime minister is also under pressure over the handling of blazes that have claimed dozens of lives.

SPAIN — SOMETHING MADRID AND BARCELONA AGREE ON: Here’s something officials from the Spanish and Catalan governments can agree on: When the European Medicines Agency leaves London because of Brexit, its new home should be Barcelona. Carmen Paun has the story.

SPAIN — CLAIMS OF POLICE VIOLENCE IN CATALONIA NEEDED CLOSER SCRUTINY: The Guardian on how to separate real and fake claims of violence against Catalans.

GREECE — POLICE HEIGHT POLICY DISCRIMINATORY: EU judges found the requirement that all candidates be at least 1.7 meters tall disadvantages women.