23-06-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 23-06-2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

IMF opposes high primary surplus target

The International Monetary Fund insists on its position that the target for Greece’s primary budget surplus should be reduced further after 2022.


Small change to capital controls

The government is considering the introduction of a monthly limit – instead of the existing biweekly one – for cash withdrawals at 1,800 euros in the context of a partial relaxation of capital controls, spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Thursday.


Mosquito spraying chopper crashes east of Athens; 2 injuries reported

A helicopter used for aerial spraying went down in a marshy area at the Schinas site, in the eastern Attica township of Marathon, on Friday morning with three people on board. Two unconscious passengers were removed by rescued crews from the wreckage, while local residents freed another man, who was uninjured.


Trash piles up amid jobs row

The piles of trash on the streets of Athens and other Greek cities are expected to grow over the coming days as a job dispute between the government and local authority sanitation workers remains unresolved.


Greece protests Koran reading at Hagia Sofia

The Greek government has appealed to UNESCO to intervene after Muslim prayers were read at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on Wednesday, calling it an affront to the religious sentiments of Christians around the world.


OLTH sale will bolster GDP, says IOBE study

The privatization of the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH) may add up to 1.6 billion euros to Greece’s gross domestic product in the coming decade, according to an IOBE study.


ECB lowers emergency funding cap for Greek banks to 43.6 bln euros

The European Central Bank lowered the cap on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) Greek banks draw from the domestic central bank by 600 million euros to 43.6 billion euros ($48.68 billion), the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.


ATHEX: Two-tier stock market slides

Trading on the Greek bourse produced mixed results on Thursday, with banks and a number of other stocks sliding while other blue chips such as Aegean, OTE and Motor Oil led the majority of stocks higher.







KATHIMERINI: Hostages to trash

TA NEA: The government’s promises have been thrown to the trash

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Political assassination contract linked to the drug smuggling case of Noor 1

AVGI: The lost honour of the media

RIZOSPASTIS: Militarization intensified in the name of “security”

KONTRA NEWS: Germans and Americans are leaving Turkey!

DIMOKRATIA: Social tourism slashed by the left government

NAFTEMPORIKI: Another 113 prior actions demanded


Keep track of today’s summit shenanigans by following POLITICO’s live blog, updated regularly by our team of reporters. Leaders will arrive from 9 a.m. and the party starts at 10 a.m. with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

The initial macroeconomic discussion will be followed by trade, with French President Emmanuel Macron sure to push for foreign investment screening. Maltese PM Joseph Muscat will close out his country’s presidency of the EU with an update on migration, before handing over to Estonia’s Prime Minister Jüri Ratas for a preview of digital plans under the Estonian EU presidency from July 1. They should finish by lunch.


Most of the headlines are about the debate on citizens’ rights after Brexit. That’s not what we’ll all remember in a decade though. That honor will go to the EU’s defense cooperation commitment.

EU creates military force: Pushed by Berlin, Paris, Rome and Madrid, the plan activates a previously dormant mechanism in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty that allows an opt-in approach, with countries permitted to launch joint security projects without requiring all EU members to agree. Such was the degree of support at the European Council meeting, the plan was agreed after just “five minutes” of discussion, a senior diplomat in the room told POLITICO.

Just for fun: The European Council chef served “almond milk ice cream” to EU leaders. Don’t tell that to the European Court of Justice. The court last week banned the label “almond milk” on products since the substances doesn’t come from an animal’s teat.

Theresa May’s maybe-generous offer to EU citizens: The U.K. prime minister got the headlines she wanted by making a grand gesture, promising to allow the 3 million or so EU citizens in the U.K. to stay post-Brexit. The devil is in the lack of detail, though. The U.K. has not yet provided cut-off dates for eligibility to its offer and has not clarified provisions for family reunification. Plus, May rejected calls from the EU side for those rights to be upheld by the European Court of Justice, promising instead they would be “enshrined in U.K.”

Annabelle Dickson and David Herszenhorn wrap up how things went during May’s first summit since her disastrous election.

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How senior UK officials briefed reporters: “Theresa May told EU leaders she wanted to provide as much certainty as possible … no EU citizen currently in the U.K. lawfully will be asked to leave the country.” On May’s suggestion, citizens from EU countries would have up to two years “to regularize their status to remain in the country.” The U.K. “does not want anyone here to have to leave, nor does it want families to be split up.” The administration of this would be “streamlined,” “digital” and “light touch.” So presumably not the current 85-page paper form for permanent residency then.

EU reactions to the UK offer: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was a “good start.” An EU diplomatic source told Playbook that while May’s words were a “positive step … it remains to be seen if the U.K. offer will be as generous as the one the EU27 set out in detail in the negotiating directives. At this stage there are, frankly speaking, some doubts.”

Macron-mania grips Brussels: Many EU leaders queued up to praise the French president, but there was skepticism from Central Europe, report Nicholas Vinocur and Maïa de la Baume. Here’s a pic by Stefan Leifert that illustrates Macron’s magnetism.

Tusk dreams of no Brexit; Juncker says let it be: “You may say I am a dreamer — I am not the only one,” European Council President Donald Tusk lyricized, in reference to the slim chance the U.K. never actually leaves the EU. “The European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So who knows?” he added. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was inspired by another Beatles lyric when he parried back: “Let it be.”

Quote du jour: “I hate Brexit from every angle,” said Dutch PM Mark Rutte.

EU and Ukraine hail closer ties, extension of Russia sanctions: Visa-free travel and a new trade accord strengthen Ukraine’s bonds to Europe.

Country cliques: There’s a renaissance in intra-EU discussion groups. The Benelux, Nordic, Baltic and Visegrad groups are especially active. The latest example was a pre-summit meeting between Slovenia and the Benelux countries. The common denominator in this bunch: they all have liberal prime ministers. Their shared policy passions: the single market, Schengen and migration.

That followed Wednesday’s Benelux-Baltics-Nordic summit pre-meet, where leaders discussed how to increase trust in the EU. According to a Dutch government spokesperson, the leaders agreed “The EU provides the best answer to face today’s challenges and shape tomorrow’s world,” and that its work should be limited to files that can’t be dealt with at a lower level.

Delay to decision on EU agencies: The EU’s decision on where to relocate two prized agencies that will have to leave the U.K. after Brexit has been pushed back a month to November to give leaders time to discuss the fraught issue, according to a document obtained by POLITICO.

ENERGY — TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ANTI-NORD STREAM PUSH: The Trump administration is on a diplomatic offensive against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, lobbying across Europe to kill off the project while also boosting its own gas sales. The geopolitical rationale behind the U.S. position is to keep Russia from dominating European gas markets. There is also a growing commercial imperative as the U.S. starts to sell liquified natural gas to the EU and Russia’s Gazprom becomes a competitor.

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CLIMATE — GERMAN STEEL BACKLASH AGAINST EU PLANS: Berlin must get the European Union to change course on planned reforms to emissions trading or the German steel industry will lose competitiveness, a dozen steel company CEOs will tell Chancellor Merkel in a letter to be published Monday in Handelsblatt and Tagesspiegel. POLITICO’s Janosch Delcker has seen the letter, and POLITICO Pro Energy and Environment subscribers can check out his story here. The letter will run a day before the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission gather for informal meetings in Brussels to discuss the reform of the EU’s Emission Trading System.

PODCAST — LAUNCH EPISODE OF ‘EU CONFIDENTIAL’: Listen here to European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, discussions on the wave of openly gay national leaders and Brexit games, plus the “Dear POLITICO” advice column, in which our Brussels brains trust helps solve listener problems at the intersection of the personal and political.


POLITICO’s Brexit policy guide: Wondering what’s at stake in Brexit talks for everything from trade, transport and defense to climate, fishing and health? We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive but easy-to-digest policy guide to Brexit, detailing everything from the likely winners and losers to the key people involved.

Brexit, 10 years on: A year after the Brexit vote, POLITICO asked six writers to imagine what Britain will look like in a decade. Mary Ann Sieghart writes: “Like a bolshy teenager who can’t help acting in a way that makes those around him dislike him, Britain’s act of masochism in leaving the EU will create a country that is unpopular, self-hating and insecure about its identity.” Rosemary Righter, on the other hand, argues “There are reasons to be cheerful.” Why? “The U.K. is well-placed to thrive in the knowledge economy, in biotechnology and life sciences, and even in the City, which somehow failed to evaporate when Britain declined to join the euro and which will survive Brexit too.”

No hard border in Ireland: Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s new prime minister, is pushing against “an economic border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and said as he attended his first European Council meeting in Brussels Thursday that the door is still open to the U.K. to change its mind on EU membership.

Surprise source: Alain de Botton, Brexit whisperer.

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — ESTONIAN PRIME MINSITER JÜRI RATAS: Watch the full interview here, starting 10 minutes in.

Trains and tunnels: Playbook’s personal favorite news from Ratas is that Estonia is “on track” with the Rail Baltica high-speed project, which would link up three regional capitals from late 2025. It’s possible an 80-kilometer tunnel will connect Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland. “It costs a lot, but the connection — not only between Finland and Estonia — is important,” said Ratas, in a nod to the strategic value of having a back door exit from the country, which borders an aggressive Russia (read more here if you’re a POLITICO Pro Transport subscriber).

ROMANIA — NEW PRIME MINISTER BY MONDAY: The Social Democrat Party will nominate a new prime minister by Monday, after ousting Sorin Grindeanu. But doing so risks the stability of the Social Democrat parliamentary majority due to the concerns of its coalition partner, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats.

US — AMBASSADOR NOMINEES FOR BELGIUM AND UK: Jamie McCourt is set to be ambassador to Belgium. McCourt is a co-owner and former CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, and speaks French. And New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is London-bound.


ANNOYED: Regarding the queen’s speech in the U.K., Rachel of Brussels wrote: “It’s a shame Playbook didn’t highlight the failure to implement a Tory manifesto pledge to give U.K. overseas residents a vote for life. I believe this is the third time the Tories have reneged on this promise. Many of us are now disenfranchised from the national debate. It does not bode well for the citizens’ rights elements of the Brexit negotiations.”

LEAVING: Joakim Frantz will leave the ALDE party secretariat.

ELECTED: Michaela Šimáková was elected new president of the College of Europe alumni association.