21-06-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 21-06-2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Brussels warns on Greek debt sustainability

The European Commission expresses serious concern over the sustainability of the Greek debt in an analysis attached to its report on the completion of the second bailout review.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219432/article/ekathimerini/business/brussels-warns-on-greek-debt-sustainability

PM fails to win opposition party backing for Eurogroup deal

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Tuesday finished briefing the leaders of opposition parties on last week’s Eurogroup deal in talks that also sought to consolidate a common position on ongoing Cyprus talks.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219424/article/ekathimerini/news/pm-fails-to-win-opposition-party-backing-for-eurogroup-deal

Debate in Bundestag over Greek program, Eurogroup deal delayed by a week

Debate in the Bundestag regarding last week’s agreement at the Eurogroup on the Greek issue and disbursement of an 8.5-billion-euro loan tranche to Greece was postponed for next week, instead of Wednesday, as was previously scheduled.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1250498/reuters-debate-in-bundestag-over-greek-program-eurogroup-deal-delayed-by-a-week

UN envoy Eide meets Kotzias ahead of Cyprus Conference

The United Nations special envoy Espen Barth Eide said Tuesday that success at the June 28 Cyprus Conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland will hinge on a “strategic agreement” on the fundamental issues of security, guarantees, territorial adjustments, property and governance.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219426/article/ekathimerini/news/un-envoy-eide-meets-kotzias-ahead-of-cyprus-conference

Major study: No coordination between real economy, businesses and higher education in Greece

Despite eight years of a crushing economic crisis in Greece the country’s higher education system continues to churn out degrees with very low marketability, many employers are indifferent to investing in their workforce’s training and remuneration while the overall business world is still plagued by introversion, the main findings of a landmark study showed this week.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1250567/major-study-no-coordination-betwee-real-economy-businesses-and-higher-education-in-greece

Current account deficit shrinks in April

Greece’s current account deficit contracted in April compared to the same month a year earlier, thanks to a lower trade gap and an increase in the primary income surplus, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219431/article/ekathimerini/business/current-account-deficit-shrinks-in-april

ATHEX: Rise continues at the bourse

The growth of the Greek bourse’s main index without the support of the bank sector is a trend that has emerged in recent days and continued on Tuesday, with the banks index underperforming compared to the market benchmark, which keeps hitting new two-year highs every day.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/219429/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-rise-continues-at-the-bourse

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KATHIMERINI: The education system provides skills that don’t meet the market’s demands

TA NEA: The truth turned into a noose for the government

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The wasteland of unemployment

AVGI: VIPs received preferential treatment by Dunant hospital when PASOK and New Democracy were in power

RIZOSPASTIS: No lay-offs! Fight for permanent and steady jobs

KONTRA NEWS: Those who destroyed the country and the Greek people have the nerve to speak out

DIMOKRATIA: Former government members of PASOK are acting as if they were innocent

NAFTEMPORIKI: EU Commission: Alert for the debt

COMMEMORATED: A major commemoration of the life of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is planned at European Parliament in Strasbourg July 1. EU organizers hope German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders will participate.

BELGIAN TERROR SUSPECT ‘NEUTRALIZED’: That was Belgian authorities’ catchphrase after a suspected suicide bomber set off a small explosion before being shot by the military in the Brussels Central station just before 9 p.m. Tuesday. More than two hours after the incident the suspect was still on the floor in the station and Belgian prosecutors told Playbook and a crowd of reporters they did not know if the man was dead or alive. No one else was injured. Witnesses reported the station was undamaged. Eric Van Der Sypt, spokesman for the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, later told POLITICO the suspect was dead.

PANEL OF THE DAY: The German Marshall Fund of the United States will host Angela Merkel and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to discuss the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan in Berlin. Livestreamed from 11:15 a.m. local time.

PLAYBOOK PREVIEW — COMMISSION TO PROPOSE CLOSURE OF TAX ADVISER LOOPHOLE: Exotic tax dodges in often exotic locations have come to define how many understand, and mistrust, their tax systems. The European Commission’s latest clampdown on tax avoidance is to hit the go-betweens, or intermediaries, who devise tax avoidance schemes.

Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for taxation, told Playbook he will attack each pillar of tax avoidance one by one. “With this proposal, we are looking at the roots of the aggressive tax planning chain by imposing new rules for all those who contribute to it — lawyers, consultants, banks, agents — sometimes in a lawful manner, sometimes illegally,” he said.

Playbook’s Commission source said under the proposals, tax advisers will be required to label or flag to authorities any advice they give to clients that could be considered as enabling cross-border tax avoidance. EU national governments will be obliged to share this information with each other and to slap sanctions on any advisers who fail to report the information within five days of providing the advice to clients.

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COMMISSION — BIEŃKOWSKA TRIES TO PIN DOWN VOLKSWAGEN: European Commissioner for Industry Elżbieta Bieńkowska warned Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller that the German car giant better stick to its late-2017 deadline to fix cars with cheating software — or risk enforcement from the European Commission. The warning came in a letter dated June 19 and seen by POLITICO. “I expect you to keep your commitment to retrofit all vehicles in the EU by autumn 2017,” Bieńkowska said, adding she expected a “100 percent recall rate in all member states in 2017.” The full story for POLITICO Transport and Energy and Environment Pro subscribers here.

COMMISSION — EU MOBILIZES TO HELP PORTUGAL FIGHT FIRES: Seven firefighting aircraft from France, Spain and Italy have been dispatched with EU funding to Portugal, as well as 120 Spanish firefighters and 26 vehicles. Greece and Cyprus offered their own firefighting teams.

COUNCIL — UK SIGNS OFF EU BUDGET MID-TERM REVIEW: The U.K. on Tuesday acquiesced to a stalled EU plan to put an extra €6 billion towards refugees, security and public investment.

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT …

Migration draws the A list: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini participate in a conference this afternoon on migration management, with Greek Migration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas, Swedish Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj, Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Moustapha Cissé Lô and Louise Arbour, the U.N.’s special representative for international migration.

Balkan instability: MEPs will debate the security situation in the Western Balkans with General Sir James Everard, the deputy supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe and commander of the EU’s operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Major General Giovanni Fungo, commander of NATO’s Kosovo force, and Ambassador Dragana Radulović, head of Montenegro’s mission to NATO.

PARLIAMENT — SOFT QUESTIONS AND APPLAUSE FOR MARIYA GABRIEL: Faced with only soft questions (and a sexist remark from a far-right Polish MEP), it was smooth sailing for the Bulgarian MEP at her confirmation hearing Tuesday afternoon for the post of European commissioner for digital affairs. 

Which EPP MEP told POLITICO questions about Gabriel’s use of a luxury 128-square-meter apartment in Sofia for €200 a month were not worth the effort because “They’re not really a scandal?” The MEP said anyone would lend a friend or an ex a large apartment if they had one to spare.

FOLLOW-UP MATERNITY LEAVE DISCUSSION: Tuesday’s Playbook included a reference to reasons why Bulgaria and European institutions have no appetite for alternative candidates to Gabriel. One reason shared by Playbook’s sources was that Eva Maydell, another rising Bulgarian MEP star, is both young by European commissioner standards and about to take a leave from work (which happens to be maternity leave).

It wasn’t Playbook’s intention to suggest impending motherhood should be a relevant factor in this debate. On reflection it’s unlikely Playbook would have mentioned an impending paternity leave as a factor. Here’s some reader feedback about the reference: “It is simply not fair: there are ambitious mothers who would get help and dedicate time and efforts to their professional responsibilities in parallel. Their male colleagues should not discard them only because they are (or about to become) mothers. This goes on: first it is the pregnancy, then the maternity leave, then expected sick leave … In addition to fighting to find a balance between family and work, a woman has to fight all these prejudices as well.”

BY THE NUMBERS — EUROPEAN DISUNION: The stark divide between elites (that’s us, dear Playbook readers) and the general public, mapped in a few brutal charts. The most insightful is here: four times as many elites think the EU has benefitted them, compared to the general public.

HUMAN RIGHTS — GREECE BLOCKS EU STATEMENT ON CHINA HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD: EU diplomats said Greece’s decision undermined efforts to confront Beijing’s crackdown on activists and dissidents, report Euractiv and Reuters.

Why Europeans treat China with kid gloves: The last time a serious institutional critique was raised — via a Spanish court — China put the recession-hit country “in the freezer,” reports Diego Torres. Beijing suspended all high-level meetings with Spanish representatives, including a state visit by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, according to two sources in the foreign and economy ministries.

HUMAN RIGHTS — NEW REFUGEE PLATFORM LAUNCHED: The ONE Campaign launched a new platform gathering data on more than 65 million displaced people around the world. It will bring together information from different official humanitarian organizations (UNHCR, IOM, UNOCHA) to help understand where refugees are and what they need.

TRADE — COMMISSIONER MALMSTRÖM ON TRUMP, CHINA, BREXIT, JAPAN: You can watch Playbook’s full 40-minute live interview with European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström here. Highlights below:

EU ‘will have to respond’ to Trump steel threat: Brussels will retaliate if Donald Trump uses a national security loophole known as ‘Section 232’ to slap tariffs on steel from the EU, China and other countries, Malmström said. “We should be very, very clear” that such a move would be “hitting the European Union very, very hard.”

Mixed review for Macron’s trade ideas: Malmström said she is willing to tweak and improve European trade defense systems, in line with concerns expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron, but she dampened hopes the Commission would embrace Macron’s demands for measures to control and prevent Chinese takeovers of strategic EU companies. “We don’t want to hurt investment,” Malmström said.

Leeway for Liam Fox on UK trade deals: Malmström said the British international trade minister’s efforts to get ready for up to 40 new trade deals after Brexit were neither illegal nor a worry for her. Playbook’s analysis here.

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GERMANY — LIBERAL CHIEF SLAPS DOWN GERMAN ECONOMIC COMPLACENCY: Christian Lindner, the latest in a string of 30-something ascendent European politicians, in an interview with POLITICO’s Matt Karnitschnig and Janosch Delcker, said “Overall, there’s a deceptive feeling of economic invincibility in Germany.” And he won’t stand for it.

FRANCE — MACRON’S MINISTERS TO FACE WORK APPRAISALS: Let the revolution begin!

FRANCE — JEAN-MARIE LE PEN TELLS MARINE IT’S TIME TO GO: Your favorite far-right family feud is heating up again, reports Nicholas Vinocur.

CZECHIA — GOD ONE OUT: Unlike their Central and Eastern European neighbors, most Czechs don’t believe in God, writes Jonathan Evan. According to a Pew Research Center survey of 18 countries in the region, 66 percent of Czechs say they do not believe in god, compared with 29 percent who do. One quarter of Czechs specifically identify as atheist.

BREXIT CORNER …

No DUP deal for Theresa May as queen’s speech rolls around: Former PM Gordon Brown was accused of squatting in Downing Street when he lingered five days after the 2010 election, hoping to secure a coalition government. It’s been nearly two weeks now since the 2017 election, and Theresa May still has no governing majority. That’s going to make for an interesting queen’s speech today, and leaves many wondering how “smooth and orderly” a May-led government can make Brexit. Annabelle Dickson explains how the speech could bring down May.

Northern Ireland emerges as the thorniest issue: Charlie Cooper on why the most respected figures from both negotiating camps are tasked with finding Irish solutions.

The full Irish border team: Oliver Robbins will lead U.K. efforts to solve Irish border issues. He’ll work directly with the EU’s Sabine Weyand (Michel Barnier’s deputy). The second chairs on the Irish boarder issue will be Simon Case for the U.K. and Nina Obermaier for the EU.

More on working patterns and next dates: While the top negotiators will spend one week a month in the same room, lower level staff will spend the preceding week together getting things ready for their bosses. That means the two sides will effectively spend two weeks a month in negotiation mode. Staffers will formally gather next on Monday July 10, with Barnier and Davis due to meet July 17.

EU citizens in UK to be asked to register for post-Brexit status: The British government will soon announce a registration process for the 3 million or so EU citizens living in the U.K., the Guardian reports.

Double Dutch: Here’s the Dutch government Brexit video referred to in Tuesday’s Playbook.

RUSSIA CORNER …

PUTIN’S MAN IN THE BALKANS: Nikolai Patrushev, a Kremlin hawk, career intelligence officer and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is the head of Russia’s Security Council. He also appears to be Putin’s new point man in the Balkans, indicating a more hard-line approach to the region, writes Howard Amos.

BULGARIA AND RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION: A Human and Social Studies Foundation — Sofia study about the anti-EU, pro-Russia propaganda in Bulgaria between 2013 and 2016 found more than 3,000 articles divided into four leading topics: “The decline of the West,” “The rise of Russia,” “The United States/NATO as a global hegemon and puppeteer” and “The elites selling out Bulgaria.” Over four years, Euroskeptic propaganda increased by 16 times. You can find charts and findings from the study here.

MALTA — SCANDAL-HIT SOUTH KOREAN WANTED MALTESE PASSPORT: Chung Yoo-ra, an equestrian champion, tried to buy a Maltese passport in order to evade prosecution at home. She is the daughter of the woman at the heart of the corruption scandal that brought down South Korean President President Park Geun-hye.

TRUMP WORLD — GRENELL COULD BE NEW GERMAN AMBASSADOR: Richard Grenell, a former United Nations official and prominent backer of U.S. President Donald Trump, is being considered to be ambassador to Germany, reports Josh Dawsey.

PHOTO ESSAY — PALERMO’S CULTURAL REVOLUTION AGAINST THE MAFIA: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino by the Sicilian Mafia in Palermo. Now the city wants to start a cultural revolution that will put an end to political violence and extortion. Benas Gerdziunas and Georgia Littlechild have this photo essay from Palermo.

ARE YOU A ‘KNOWLEDGE NOMAD’? Playbook loves an innovator. Brussels competition lawyer Anne MacGregor has earned that label by creating a sideline in “knowledge holidays.” If you’re lawyer looking to get smart or complete your practical training but can’t stand “excruciatingly boring and male-dominated” legal conferences, then this July event in Berlin could be for you.

Offer to readers: Anne has offered free tickets to day sessions of the conference to the first three people who email anne@knowledge-nomads.com with the name of one of the speakers from each of the days (you’ll need three names to answer the quiz).

BRUSSELS CORNER …

RELEASED JOURNALIST IN BRUSSELS TODAY: French reporter Mathias Depardon will tell his story of being jailed for a month in Turkey, at 5:30 p.m. at the Press Club for a Reporters Without Border event. Register here.

ESTONIA SELLS E-RESIDENCY IN BRUSSELS: The embassy of Estonia in Brussels is hosting a seminar on e-residency June 21.

APPOINTED: Anneleen van Bossuyt, a Flemish N-VA MEP, is set to be voted in as the new chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, replacing Vicky Ford, who has stepped down to enter the U.K. parliament. Ian Duncan will move from being an MEP to the U.K. House of Lords, and will also become the under secretary of state for Scotland.