20-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

20-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, October 20, 2017

Greece plans billion euro handout for the poor

Greece plans to offer handouts worth 1 billion euros to poor Greeks who have suffered during the seven-year debt crisis after beating its budget targets this year, the government said on Thursday.


Athens angry over Himara demolitions

The Greek Foreign Ministry Thursday condemned a decision by Tirana to allow the demolition of homes belonging to ethnic Greeks in Himara.


Justice Ministry to address concerns over ‘pothen esches’ declarations

Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos on Thursday said that a new ministerial decision will be issued to address the concerns expressed in a Council of State ruling issued earlier this week about the submission of asset source declarations (“pothen esches”) by judges, journalists and public servants.


Ministry calls for removal of sunken tanker from sea

The Environment Ministry said Thursday it is imperative that the Agia Zoni II tanker which sunk last month in the Saronic Gulf is removed from the sea as soon as possible, as part of the efforts to deal with the environmental impact of the oil spill it created.


No evidence of cholera outbreak at Athens hospital, KEELPNO says

The Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) on Thursday would not confirm reports claiming that there had been an outbreak of cholera at the Helena Venizelou maternity hospital.


Anti-state activists smash up social security arrears entity in protest over foreclosures

A notorious group of self-described anti-state activists in Athens again struck on Thursday, this time invading and vandalizing the offices of a public organization tasked with collecting social security arrears.


Greece continues to lag beyind EU 28 in terms of consumer confidence

Consumer confidence in Greece continued to hover at much lower levels than in the rest of Europe, despite a relative improvement that was recorded in the third quarter of 2017 in certain individual indexes, a report by GfK revealed.


EBRD buys slice of NBG covered bond

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said on Thursday it had invested in the first publicly sold covered bond issued by a Greek bank since the government in Athens returned to international bond markets this year.


ATHEX: Report weighs on local stocks

Greek stocks took a dive on Thursday, led by the credit sector, after a Bloomberg report suggested that banks will have to be even more aggressive in the reduction of their bad-loan backlog.







KATHIMERINI: The Large Property Tax is going to be calculated on a family basis

ETHNOS: The file that convinced Trump to support Greece

TA NEA: UK PM Theresa May: “I don’t want any Greek to leave the UK”

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Interview with PM Tsipras: “We extend our hand but we don’t identify and we do not surrender”

AVGI: The new labor model proposed by the Greek Federation of Enterprises resembles modern-time slavery

RIZOSPASTIS: Top Secret file of NATO confirms the storage of nuclear weapons in the Greek region of Araxos

KONTRA NEWS: The ‘kickbacks kings’ who profited with billions of Euros from armament programmes are being provocative [by accusing the government for the F16 upgrade deal with the US]

DIMOKRATIA: The social groups to benefit from the government’s social dividend

NAFTEMPORIKI: Businesses did not claim 13.805 employment positions subsidized by the National Manpower Organization

BREXIT FOR BREAKFAST TODAY: British PM Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk meet for 15 minutes at 8:45 a.m. and EU27 leaders will discuss Brexit with EU negotiator Michel Barnier at 10 a.m.

In between, all 28 leaders will discuss the EU’s leaders’ agenda — an 18-month detailed meeting plan — proposed by Tusk earlier this week. A key point set for agreement: the need to stick much closer t0 what is agreed at summits.

Governments need to deliver the cash they promise (for example to Africa migration-relations projects), apply the systems they agree (migration is also the relevant example), and better support the Commission’s efforts to translate summit ideals into practical rules and projects (the much-delayed Digital Single Market is the best example of missed opportunities).


Your summit essentials: Leaders engaged in a fierce debate over a proposal on taxing tech giants, with France dialing back its hard stance after Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire’s three-day trip to the U.S. There was griping over energy policy and Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and renewed tensions between Spain and Belgium over Catalonia. Get the wrap from POLITICO’s summit team.

Blow-by-blow: POLITICO’s 10 reporters fed a liveblog that will resume from 9 a.m. this morning.

Summit conclusions: Read the council conclusions on migration, digital, security and defense.

EU sees path to ‘sufficient progress’ on Brexit but it’s no sure thing: Everyone agreed progress had been made, just not enough to unlock the trade talks Britain is banking on. Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has “no doubt” they’ll get there in the end.

The rub: May wants EU leaders’ help coming up with a deal she can sell at home. They’re not inclined to do that, but May isn’t helping her cause. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters May must “come up with more clarity” following her Florence speech. “I phoned her last week and tried to encourage her to do that but so far she hasn’t,” Rutte said. In fact, Dutch politicians are astonished the Brits believe they’ll ride in to their rescue.

It’s less knights in shining armor and more a case of “diplomatic Jenga,” writes Gary Gibbon of the U.K.’s Channel 4. “Angela Merkel and others want to extract money, tens of billions of it, from the U.K., ideally without toppling Theresa May.”

Turkey: EU leaders agreed to cut funds linked to Turkey’s frozen membership bid in response to the authoritarian turn Ankara has taken since last year’s failed coup.

Migration: Leaders repeated existing promises to do more to help Italy, invest more in Africa and revise their asylum system.

Iran: Merkel confirmed all 28 EU countries remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal.

Catalonia: They talked about it, to Mariano Rajoy’s displeasure.

Merkel on Daphne Caruana Galizia: The German chancellor at the start of the summit expressed her shock to colleagues at the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, diplomats told POLITICO.

Age before beauty at the EPP: While Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s 31-year-old chancellor-in-waiting made his debut at the European People’s Party pre-summit, it was former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the same gathering who stole the show.

Tweet du jour: With the summit taking place in the old EU council premises (thanks to toxic kitchen fumes in the Council’s new building) some national delegations found themselves short of furniture.


The country’s foreign affairs committee sent an unusual letter asking ministers of several Western countries to step away from U.S. President Donald Trump. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop revealed the existence of the letter, which was sent earlier this month. It’s being interpreted as a sign sanctions are succeeding in putting pressure on North Korea. You can read it here.

LATEST EU CONFIDENTIAL PODCAST: Listen immediately by clicking here | Download this episode

Episode 18 of POLITICO’s EU Confidential podcast is now available, featuring an interview with European Commissioner Vĕra Jourová, who leads the EU’s work on data protection among her many responsibilities. We hear how in less than 10 years, Jourová went from jail to justice commissioner, after false bribery accusations inspired her to earn a law degree and fight for justice. Jourová also reveals she too experienced sexual violence, and calls on other victims to report perpetrators and speak out to change prevailing cultures.

Do you have a #MeToo story to share about an incident? Tell us your story via this confidential form, so we can better understand sexual harassment and assault in Brussels.


Expenses should be kept secret to avoid pressure: If EU lawmakers were forced to declare how they spend their monthly expenses, they would be criticized so much they may struggle to do their jobs, a lawyer representing the European Parliament said Thursday. “If everything was visible … it would impose a big pressure,” said the lawyer representing the Parliament. A group of journalists brought a case to court after the Parliament refused access to information on how MEPs spent public money worth around €450 million last year. Playbook’s Harry Cooper reported from Luxembourg.

Privacy concerns: MEPs on the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee voted to boost protection for users of applications like Skype and WhatsApp, ahead of discussions with EU governments. Next week the full plenary in Strasbourg will vote to authorize those talks to go ahead despite opposition from some groups.

No to glyphosate: The environment committee rejected a proposal made by the Commission to renew the license for the controversial pesticide glyphosate. The vote is non-binding.

Does Marine Le Pen miss being an MEP? Le Pen swapped her €11,000 monthly European Parliament salary for €5,700 after tax in the French National Assembly, but the National Front chief now takes home €5,000 per month in party-funded expenses, nearly double her previous draw-down, local media reported.

EIB — BY THE NUMBERS, €241B: Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen is in Luxembourg to meet with European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer and Commission staff working on the Juncker Investment Plan. The pair have together funded or unlocked €241 billion, or 75 percent of the EU’s investment target under the plan, the Commission told Playbook by email.

BY THE NUMBERS — €453,000,000,000,000: Or €453 trillion is you prefer. That’s the size of the EU’s derivatives markets, based on all asset classes, according to new data from the European Securities and Markets Authority. Details for POLITICO Pro Financial Services subscribers here.

DIGITAL POLITICS — GERMANY’S DIGITAL DIVIDE IS A PARTY ONE: The parties set to govern Germany are at odds over how to give Europe’s economic powerhouse an online boost. At the heart of their differences lies an old-fashioned power struggle, the same kind of battle that has held back previous German attempts to accelerate down the digital superhighway, reports Janosch Delcker.


Pascal Lamy, a former European commissioner and former head of the World Trade Organization, told the Financial Times: “The fundamental difference between the U.K. vision of what this is about and the Franco-German view is that the British still think this is a negotiation. It is not a negotiation, it is process to be managed to minimize harm. They still seem to believe they can buy something with the money they have to pay.”

Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein tweeted: “Just left Frankfurt. Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it. Good, because I’ll be spending a lot more time there. #Brexit”

Davis gets upbeat: The Times reports David Davis will present the Cabinet with an “upbeat assessment” of a no-deal Brexit at a meeting October 31. He has reportedly ordered officials to “step up preparations” for hard Brexit and is “expected to outline the benefits of the scenario” to Cabinet.

WSJ’s Simon Nixon on why Continental policymakers don’t share the U.K.’s sense of the importance of financial services.

Podcast du jour from Paris: Nicholas Vinocur and Pierre Briançon (in French) on why Macron has problems of his own and doesn’t care much about Theresa May’s.

SPAIN — MADRID SET TO SUSPEND CATALAN AUTONOMY: The Spanish government will move to take direct control of Catalonia on Sunday, accusing regional President Carles Puigdemont of failing to comply with its ultimatum to clarify whether he had declared independence.


The two-day Czech parliamentary election is now underway. If the polls are right, this will be the third European election in a row (after Germany and Austria) where populists surge. The liberal ANO, under the leadership of Andrej Babiš — a billionaire media mogul charged with EU subsidy fraud — is set to finish in first place.

Who is Babiš? “He rejects the introduction of the euro, refugee quotas and the extension of economic sanctions against Russia. Babiš wants to reintroduce border checks in his country, and is sending strong signals against corruption. The latter, however, must be viewed with skepticism due to the suspicions of EU subsidy fraud leveled against Babiš himself.”

Strong rule instead of democratic values: “It’s worrying that more and more people are putting their living standards above democratic and liberal values,” writes Právo.

ITALY — RENZI TRIES TO SHIFT BLAME FOR COUNTRY’S BANK CRISIS: By questioning the reappointment of a top central banker, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has tried to shift blame for his inability to fix Italy’s massive bad loan problems while at the country’s helm. That move could backfire, writes Giada Zampano.


MALTA — CHILLING WORDS FROM MUSCAT ADVISER: A pro-government paper edited by Josef Caruana, now an adviser to PM Joseph Muscat, ran an editorial in June, shortly after the government was re-elected, instructing Daphne Caruana Galizia and eight other journalists to “bow their heads to the verdict and vanish from journalism.” The editorial went on to call the journalists “snakes” and said “there must be cleansing.” Caruana was subsequently hired by Muscat. A government spokesman told Playbook: “The government does not control the editorial line of news organizations.”

THE NETHERLANDS — MEP CORA VAN NIEUWENHUIZEN FLAGGED FOR MINISTRY: She is the rumored incoming minister for infrastructure and environment in the new Dutch government. NOS has a full list here.

HUNGARY — US DIPLOMAT ACCUSED OF ELECTION INTERFERENCE: Hungary called in the U.S. charge d’affaires Wednesday, after he made a strong address in favor of free speech on Tuesday. The Hungarians accused the U.S. embassy of interfering in the upcoming election.

BEYOND EUROPE — NEW ZEALAND’S 37-YEAR-OLD PM: Jacinda Ardern (a former colleague of Playbook’s), is the surprise new left-wing leader of New Zealand. After turning down the job of party leader seven times, Ardern generated “Jacindamania” in the election campaign, but fell seven points short of the incumbent government in the September 23 election.

Because no party gained a majority of seats, several weeks of negotiations followed. On Thursday, Winston Peters, a septuagenarian nationalist MP, informed the country (including Ardern) on live television his party had decided to make her the next PM. Her first test: ensuring New Zealand’s campaign for a free trade agreement with the EU isn’t thwarted by Peters, who is set to be deputy prime minister.

US — NEW NORWAY AMBASSADOR: U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would nominate Kenneth Braithwaite, currently a group senior vice president for health care company Vizient and a former Navy veteran, as ambassador to Norway. Aftenposten has more.

MEDIA MOVES — DECODING RT: European Values, an anti-Putin think tank, has a new Kremlin Watch report on the editorial strategy of television network RT, by Monika Richter. Report summary here.