21-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

21-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tsipras looks to press the reset button and stop slide

With the summer recess coming to a close, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reportedly anxiously examining “all options on the table” in a bid to bounce back from a difficult year that saw his government’s popularity slide.


Greece’s leftist justice minister refuses to attend Estonian EU presidency conference focusing on crimes committed by communist regimes

Greece’s leftist justice minister raised eyebrows in the country at the end of the week by declining an invitation to an international conference in Tallinn, Estonia that will include a session entitled “The Heritage in 21st Century Europe of the Crimes Committed by Communist Regimes”.


EU governments ‘must fight terror with cooperation’

European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in an interview published on Saturday that it was high time that governments of European Union member-states stopped bickering and started working together and exchanging intelligence to fight the battle against terrorism which, he said, will take years to win.


More Turkish air violations

More than a dozen Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space 60 times on Friday, according to Greek military authorities. The violations by 14 planes occurred in the northeastern, central and southeastern Aegean.


High court orders temporary block in nationalized urban bus company’s liquidation

A Council of State (CoS) council of justices on Friday ordered a temporary freeze to the ongoing insolvency process for the recently nationalized greater Thessaloniki area urban bus company (OASTh).


EFKA faced with crash test

The amount of revenue collected over the next four months – until the end of the year – will determine the financial health of the Single Social Security Entity (EFKA), according to analysts. However, this period could prove to be an uphill battle in terms of revenue collection, as EFKA must start receiving contributions in order to make one-off payments and pay auxiliary pensions.


Fitch Upgrades Greece to ‘B-‘ from ‘CCC’; Outlook Positive

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Greece’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to ‘B-‘ from ‘CCC’, with a ‘positive’ outlook.


Supermarkets claim provinces

With many Greeks leaving the larger cities for the summer holidays, large supermarket chains have taken their battle for a slice of the market beyond their traditional stomping ground.








KATHIMERINI: “I’ve been putting out fires with the same airplane that my father flew”

TO VIMA: The clash of autumn: Painful reforms at the last stretch of the Memorandum

REAL NEWS: Hot liabilities [for the recent fires]! Real News reveals tragic shortages in fire extinguishing means for the protection of forests

PROTO THEMA: Only 4 fire-extinguishing airplanes were flying (from the 18 that were available) during the recent fires

AVGI: Political game on new terms for the government and New Democracy

RIZOSPASTIS: Popular rights have been turned into ashes in favour of capitalism


TA NEA: Stalinism in power

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Historically ignorant parallelism of communism and Nazism

KONTRA NEWS: Major turbulence expected if red loans are handed to private funds

DIMOKRATIA: MEGA TV channel was serving lies and engaged in propaganda

NAFTEMPORIKI: Second thoughts for 4 measures

COMMISSION — BIG 3 WANT ROLE FOR BRUSSELS TO BLOCK CHINESE TAKEOVERS: Germany, France and Italy want Brussels to protect Europe’s companies from what they deem to be politically motivated acquisitions by China, according to a policy paper obtained by POLITICO’s Jakob Hanke. The three countries want the European Commission to decide when an acquisition is being guided by a foreign country’s political objectives rather than market forces.

BACK TO THE ELYSÉE: French political life was near-frozen for the 10 days President Emmanuel Macron was on holiday, but the thaw is slowly coming. The man is back in Paris just in time for a milestone he is unlikely to celebrate — his first 100 days in the presidency. With his popularity now lower than that of his unpopular predecessor François Hollande at the same point of his presidency, the restraint is understandable. But it’s fair to note Macron always said he didn’t care much about such symbolic dates. Read my take on why his first few months in office have amounted to a succession of blunders and faux pas, and why Macron must change himself before he can change France. See a timeline of Macron’s first 100 days here.

TERROR — SPANISH INVESTIGATION FOCUSES ON RIPOLL: Spanish police investigating the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in which 14 people were killed are focusing on Ripoll, a small town 100 kilometers north of Catalonia’s capital. Four of the suspects shot dead in the resort town of Cambrils on Friday were either born or lived in Ripoll, while the fifth man shot dead came from nearby Ribes de Freser.

Police probe link between Spanish and Brussels attacks.

Barcelona’s strong ties to radical Islam: Catalonia has been the main hub of jihadist recruitment in Spain for more than a decade, reports Giulia Paravicini.

‘We used to leave in peace in Catalunya.’ Le Monde ace reporter Florence Aubenas’ Barcelona notebook here.

Finland ‘no longer an island’: “If the criminal charge is confirmed to be terror-related murder, that would be a first in Finland … We are no longer an island,” said Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, a day after a terror attack in Turku.

UK government targets rental car companies: London is looking into ways to stop terrorists from hiring vehicles to use in terror attacks, as they did in Spain and London earlier this year.


CDU/CSU remain top of the polls: A survey for Bild am Sontag put German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU at 39 percent, ahead of Martin Schulz’s SPD on 24 percent.

Merkel and Schulz interviews: Bild interviews Merkel live today from 10 a.m. Watch here. Schulz gets his turn September 1 at 9:30 a.m.

Make German politics interesting again: In a much talked-about paperChristian Odendahl and Sophia Besch from the Center for European Reform say Merkel will be reelected and lay the blame squarely at the door of the SPD, which has been unable to appeal to voters in spite of what the authors see as a big space for social democratic policies. Instead, they say, the SPD lost middle class centrist voters to the conservatives and lower-waged voters to the far-left’s Die Linke. A shorter version of the paper in a Guardian op-ed here.

Seehofer backs away from refugee limit: Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s CDU, has backed away from his demand for an upper limit on the number of refugees that should be allowed into Germany.

SWEDEN — PM URGES STANCE AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACISTS: “It may be easy to try to laugh away these angry men with big words, small hearts and closed fists,” said Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in a speech in Eskilstuna Sunday. “But all fascist movements were small when they were founded and were able to quickly gain followers during difficult times.”

FOOD MEETS POLITICS — MONSANTO ON THE ATTACK: POLITICO’s Simon Marks analyzed hundreds of previously undisclosed documents from a high-profile court case in San Francisco and conducted interviews with numerous scientific experts to tell the tale of the intense battle between Monsanto and scientists. Monsanto says it has evidence that debunks an appraisal by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which labeled glyphosate as carcinogenic.


Long arm of Turkey’s anti-Gülenist purge: Since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to “cleanse” Turkey of its enemies following last year’s attempted coup, a purge has expanded beyond the country’s borders, reports Zia Weise. The U.S. and Europe have largely withstood demands to extradite those Ankara alleges are linked to Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed coup, but Erdoğan has had more luck elsewhere.

Erdoğan suggests how Turks abroad should vote: This is not as high-tech as, say, your standard Russian hack attempt. But after proving an expert in managing how Turks vote in Turkey, Erdoğan has now urged the 3 million Turks living in Germany not to vote for any political party he considers hostile to his country. He seems short on acceptable choices: “I would say to all compatriots in Germany, do not support the Christian Democrats, not the SPD [Social Democrats], not the Greens. They are all enemies of Turkey,” Erdoğan said. Sigmar Gabriel, the (SPD) German foreign minister, wasn’t amused. This is “an unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country,” he protested.

And now Austria too fears Erdoğan’s meddling: Erdoğan “is trying to manipulate Turkish communities” and “polarizing and importing conflicts from Turkey to the EU,” said Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the center-right ÖVP. Austria goes to the polls in October.


UK politicians to surprise the world once more: Today at noon, politicians will bow in protest of Big Ben’s final bongs. After today, the clock won’t chime again until 2021, to allow for extensive repairs. The protest against Big Ben’s longest silence ever seems to cross party lines, with Labor and Liberal Democrat MPs to take part. No serious study yet on whether the Big Ben divide parallels the Brexit one.

Government to publish more papers: Ahead of next week’s second round of Brexit negotiations, the U.K. government is set to publish “a wave of documents” outlining how lawmakers want to enforce British laws after the country leaves the EU and how British officials would like to push ahead with negotiations for a free trade agreement.

Paul Jenkins, who was the most senior legal expert in the U.K. government until 2014, described Prime Minister Theresa May’s red line on the European Court of Justice as “foolish.” The FT reports, meanwhile, that the U.K. will this week propose a new dispute resolution mechanism to oversee post-Brexit relations between the U.K. and the EU. “David Davis, Brexit secretary, will examine the precedent set by the European Free Trade Association court, which deals with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in their relations with the EU single market.”

Meanwhile the Beeb once more a target of Brexit ire. Critics have long blamed the BBC for what they allege is a biased, “facts-are-just-opinions” approach to Brexit coverage. Over the past few days it is Remainers heading to social media to take issue with the BBC featuring on its front page an economist’s report arguing a hard Brexit would offer a £135 billion annual boost to the U.K. economy. The policy wonk in you can find the controversial report here and a thorough, systematic deconstructions here.

CITIZENS LOVE THEIR EU: Support for the EU has increased dramatically since the U.K. voted to leave the bloc, with a significant majority of people in Germany, Spain, Italy and France saying they want more cooperation at EU level, according to a survey released at the weekend.

TECH MEETS POLITICS — EUROPE, THE WORLD’S DIGITAL POLICEMAN: In his new Digital Politics column, POLITICO’s Mark Scott writes the Continent’s policymakers have set their sights on becoming the de facto global arbiters for how companies and their users behave online. But, he warns, such efforts are by no means assured — and may eventually lead to the Balkanization of digital services along national, or regional, borders.

UK to crack down on social media hate crime: Alison Saunders, director of the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service, will order prosecutors to treat online hate crime the same way as face-to-face offences, she revealed in an op-ed in the Guardian. Saunders said the reason for the policy change is because online abuse can go offline, such as in Charlottesville in the U.S. “Left unchallenged, even low-level offending can subsequently fuel the kind of dangerous hostility that has been plastered across our media in recent days,” she wrote.

‘DON’T DRINK WATER FROM THE RIVER’. I’m not sure I would anyway in Chernobyl, the “city of ghosts.”

MALTA BLOCKS ANTI-MIGRANT BOAT FROM REFUELING: The Maltese government blocked a ship run by “Defend Europe” from refueling on the island. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Malta “will not be used by extremists.”

Billionaires who bought citizenship ‘living’ in cheap apartments: The BBC reports foreigners who bought EU citizenship under the government-run Individual Investor Program don’t seem to be living in Malta, despite this being a requirement of EU and international law.

THE NETHERLANDS — D66 CONCERNED OVER RULES FOR ‘RAINBOW FAMILIES’: The liberal D66, one of the four parties locked in talks over a new coalition government, has expressed concern about plans to delay new rules allowing up to four individuals to be named a child’s parents.


Trump to stump: U.S. President Donald Trump will tonight to lay out his administration’s plans for Afghanistan and Southeast Asia in a speech in Arlington at 9 p.m. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he was “very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous.”