22-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

22-12-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

See you again on 4th of January 2018

Friday, December 22, 2017

Bomb blast outside Athens appeals court complex

A powerful bomb blast was reported at the entrance of Athens’ appeals court complex in the early morning hours on Friday, with television footage showing damage to the building.


Govt sources rail against central banker Stournaras

Government sources railed, unofficially, against Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras on Thursday afternoon, hours after the country’s central bank issued an interim report on monetary policy that welcomed the prospect of a precautionary support program after the end of the current bailout in August 2018.


Auctions sow division

The debate in Parliament Thursday over an amendment included in a Justice Ministry bill that would impose jail sentence on anyone using force, or threatening to do so, in order to stop auctions of foreclosed properties at courthouses and notary offices, highlighted divisions within the leftist-led coalition.


House speaker approves 1 million euros in aid for flood victims

Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis on Thursday approved a tranche of 1 million euros in aid to victims of the flash floods that struck western Attica in November.


Thessaloniiki Port Authority (OLTh) concession signed

A contract selling a 67-percent stake of the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTh) and transferring its management was signed on Thursday between Greece’s privatization agency and a consortium comprised of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners GmbH, Belterra Investments Ltd. And Terminal Link SAS. The price tag was 231.926 million euros.


Business and capital return boosted bank deposits

The corporate sector and the repatriation of capital are the main factors behind the increase in bank deposits, the interim report of the Bank of Greece claimed on Thursday.


ATHEX: Athens bourse extends gains

The benchmark of the Greek stock market continued its northbound course for a seventh day on Thursday, as buyers made their presence felt in the latter half of the session, taking the main index’s gains to over 7 percent since December 12.







KATHIMERINI: Certificates of technical schools will be considered equal to those of universities

ETHNOS: Government enraged with annoying comments made by Bank of Greece Governor Giannis Stournaras

TA NEA: Spanish model for indebted households: Loan haircut with change of residence

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Bank of Greece Governor Giannis Stournaras sends a Christmas message proposing a hybrid-Memorandum

AVGI: Greece drafts forest maps for the first time

RIZOSPASTIS: The Greek people will not legitimize the shameful amendment regarding protests against auctions of indebted households

KONTRA NEWS: The secretary of former head of Siemens Hellas Christoforakos incriminates former PM Simitis and former Minister of Finance Papantoniou

DIMOKRATIA: Venomous statements by BoG Governor, Stournaras and the head of the Parliament’s Budget Office, Liargovas undermine the country’s effort to exit the crisis

NAFTEMPORIKI: Exit from the Memorandum with a precautionary support framework


Parties supporting Catalan independence won an absolute majority in the region’s parliament, ending hopes the ballot would resolve the worst political crisis to hit Spain for decades. Catalans voted in unprecedented numbers, with a record turnout of 82 percent. Pro-unity Ciudadanos is in first place with a significant advantage in terms of votes, but unable to form a government after the election, which was triggered by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after he fired the government for holding an illegal referendum earlier this year. Former regional President Carles Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya was in second place.

Puigdemont, who remains in exile in Brussels, nonetheless voted in the election, with an anonymous 18-year-old casting a ballot on his behalf, he told reporters. He’s expected to hold a press conference today around midday in the Schuman area of Brussels near the EU institutions.

Just like in other recent European (and international) elections, the role of fake news and state-backed digital misinformation had become a major issue, with claims that Russia-backed social media “bots” promoted both secessionist and unionist messages on Facebook and Twitter. El País has a good breakdown on such digital skullduggery, whose main aim, according to experts, is to sow uncertainty and friction.

Diego Torres reporting for POLITICO has five takeaways from the vote | The results | How Catalonia voted in charts.


COMMISSION — SWISS FURY OVER CAPITAL MARKETS RULING: Doris Leuthard, the Swiss president, isn’t happy with the European Commission. She told reporters that Brussels was undermining the land-locked country’s financial services industry by only granting Swiss stock exchanges temporary access to EU markets. If things don’t change, she warned, Switzerland may retaliate. Reuters has more.

COMMISSION — EU & MEXICO TRADE, AY, DIOS MIO! Striking a political agreement on trade negotiations between the EU and Mexico looks increasingly unlikely before year’s end, two officials told POLITICO’s Hans von der Burchard. The Commission’s Cecilia Malmström and Phil Hogan held late night discussions with Ildefonso Guajardo, the Mexican economy minister, but could not reach a breakthrough.

On your e-bike, China: Speaking of the Commission, the high-ups in the Berlaymont launched an investigation into potential illegal subsidies for electronic bikes imported from China. The probe follows complaints from the trade group European Bicycle Manufacturers Association and will focus on determining whether Chinese producers receive state subsidies. Cynthia Kroet has more here for POLITICO Pro Transport and Trade subscribers.

COMMISSION — WORKERS’ RIGHTS IN THE GIG ECONOMY: How should those who work for the likes of Uber or Deliveroo be treated? The Commission weighed in Thursday, publishing labor reforms that aim to give more control and a greater say to people who work in the so-called gig economy. More from the Commission here.

COUNCIL — ESTONIA PRESIDENCY CALLS IT A DAY: We’re not yet done with 2017, but the Estonians are already putting their feet up for the holiday period. The Baltic country put out a cheat-sheet summarizing its Council presidency.

Bulgarian social media campaign flops: Attempts to help Europeans better understand what makes Bulgarians Bulgarian ahead of Sofia’s Council presidency starting in January got off to a bad start with the #BulgariaIn30Facts social media campaign.

PARLIAMENT — MILLION-EURO PLAN FOR EUROPARL VISITORS’ CENTER: The EU plans to splash out nearly €3 million to transform its office in Estonia — a country of 1.3 million people — into a high-tech visitor center to show off “the importance and relevance of the European Parliament and the EU.” The center will cost another €580,000 to run each year, according to documents seen by POLITICO’s Maïa de La Baume.

One-person race for Reform leadership: Kaja Kallas, an Estonian Liberal MEP, is currently the sole candidate to become chairperson of the country’s opposition Reform Party ahead of an internal election next April. If elected, Kallas told local media, she will visit Estonia “significantly more often than before.”

EU CONFIDENTIAL PODCAST: The latest POLITICO EU Confidential podcast has just been released, featuring a review of the year from our reporters and an interview with NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Jamie Shea, a Brussels veteran of almost 40 years. With regular host Ryan Heath on holiday, news editor Andrew Gray talks to Shea about NATO’s future challenges, the EU’s new defense pact and his role as frontman when NATO went to war for the first time over Kosovo in 1999.

Listen immediately here. Download this episode to listen offline via Apple iTunes.


TRANSATLANTIC UBER FALLOUT: After Europe’s highest court ruled this week that Uber should be treated as a transport service (and therefore comply with the strict rules that apply to taxis), cities in the United States are taking notice. The likes of San Francisco and New York — which have love-hate relationships with the ride-booking service — figure if Uber can live with tougher laws in Europe, then the company can do the same closer to home.

IS FACEBOOK AGEIST? Companies from Amazon to Goldman Sachs all use Facebook to recruit new hires, running ads on the social networking giant to entice people to apply for jobs. There’s just one problem: Some targeted their recruitment campaigns at Facebook users aged 25-36, which may be discriminatory against older workers.

FACEBOOK’S MINISTRY OF PROPAGANDA: The social networking giant has become one of the most powerful companies in the world by signing up roughly a third of the world’s population. But it also has embedded its staff in political campaigns from the United States and Germany to Brazil and India, helping local lawmakers use its digital tools to reach potential voters, according to a Bloomberg report.

ERIC SCHMIDT STANDS DOWN AS ALPHABET CHAIRMAN: Eric Schmidt will step down as the executive chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors and become a technical adviser instead, the company announced overnight. Schmidt will remain on Alphabet’s board. The company didn’t give a reason for the move.


ITALY — MARRIAGE ITALIAN (RIGHT-WING) STYLE: As Italy heads toward a March general election, the two major right-wing parties — Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s Northern League — hope to join forces in a coalition to maximize their chance of taking power from Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s Democratic Party (PD). The deal is almost done, but there is one small detail in the way: The charismatic 44-year-old leader of the Northern League fears the rejuvenated 81-year-old Berlusconi is already eying up the PD. To avoid this scenario, Salvini wants the three-time premier to put his commitment to the coalition deal in writing — which Berlusconi so far refuses to do. Anna Momigliano reports for POLITICO from Milan.

GERMANY — JUSTICE MINISTER SPEAKS OUT ON HATE SPEECH Heiko Maas, Germany’s justice minister, called an anti-Semitic online video that had been shared more than 300,000 on social media “completely outrageous” and “inexcusable.” His comments come as Europe’s largest economy is struggling to tackle the spread of hate speech on digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

UK — RUSSIAN SPYING GAMES: A suspected Russian spy acted as interpreter between Theresa May and Ukrainian PM Volodymyr Groysman when the two met and discussed security issues in Downing Street this summer, the Times reports. The news comes as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is in Russia, where he will warn his counterpart Sergey Lavrov in talks today that relations will continue to be strained with Moscow until the Kremlin stops trying to “destabilize” Europe. Reuters has more.


He might not be a household name, but Damian Green, who was fired late Wednesday for lying about pornography found on his computer, continued to dominate news coverage in the U.K. Some saw the demise of one of Theresa’s May closest allies as a stitch-up by the police, with even Cabinet ministers like Jeremy Hunt calling on the officers involved in the investigation to be held to account. Regardless, with Green now gone, May needs a replacement with his political and personal dexterity — qualities that even the P.M.’s closest admirers would admit she does not have in abundance.

THE IMPACT ASSESSMENTS THAT WEREN’T: You’ve got to give British politicians credit for timing. On the last day of parliament before the end of the year, the Common’s Brexit committee published summaries on how 39 sectors will be affected by Brexit. But don’t hold your breath. Almost all of the actual details about how leaving the EU will impact these industries was redacted.

SPAIN WANTS ‘REASONABLE’ OUTCOME ON GIBRALTAR: Spain’s EU affairs chief Jorge Toledo told POLITICO’s Diego Torres that Madrid expects to engage in “bilateral negotiations” with London and wants a “reasonable” and fair result for everyone.

POLAND BACKS UK BESPOKE TRADE DEAL: Some good news for Theresa May. Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, told reporters after a meeting between the two in Warsaw on Thursday that he wanted a new trading relationship between the U.K. and EU “as soon as possible.” Fun fact: A translator at the press conference accidentally gave May a new nickname, calling her “Madam Brexit.”

May on Poland’s rule-of-law spat with Brussels: “These constitutional issues are normally and should be primarily a matter for the individual country concerned,’” said May in response to Polish journalist Jakub Krupa’s question about the Commission’s concerns about rule of law in Poland.

Rogue nations: POLITICO’s Jan Cienski has the highlights from the “Rogue nations” summit in Warsaw, during which May and Morawiecki reminisced about World War II and the challenges they both face dealing with what they regard as a meddlesome, stubborn Brussels.