23-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 23-08-2017


Wednesday, August 23 2017

Gov’t holds high hopes for forthcoming Macron visit

The government is working hard to prepare for a scheduled visit to Greece on September 7 and 8 by French President Emmanuel Macron, seeking to boost the interest of French investors and encourage a large delegation of entrepreneurs to accompany him on his trip.


Schaeuble wants to allow eurozone peers to tap ESM for investments, report says

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is working on a proposal that would allow southern eurozone countries to tap into the single currency bloc’s bailout fund to boost investments during recessions, a newspaper said on Wednesday.


Ministry appoints council appointed for Athens mosque

The Education and Religious Affairs Ministry on Tuesday took another step toward establishing the capital’s first official mosque, appointing a seven-member administrative council that is to oversee its operation.


IMF position on third review of Greek bailout still unclear; no confirmation of Lagarde visit to Athens

The IMF’s stance in forthcoming negotiations to conclude the third review of the current Greek bailout program – the third in succession – remains a question mark for the leftist-rightist coalition government in Athens.


 POS rules become stricter for non-compliant businesses

Businesses that are by law required to offer customer the option of paying by debit or credit card will face stiffer treatment for failing to comply following a decision by Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou on Tuesday.


 Greece trails its peers in tapping conference tourism

Greece is missing out on revenues from business tourism as it lags behind its European peers in developing this market, according to the Association of Professional Greek Conference Organizers.


 Container traffic at Piraeus dips in July but outperforms in H1

Container traffic at Greece’s biggest port in Piraeus contracted 4.4 percent last month, according to data published by Chinese operator Cosco, which showed that the port handled 309,000 cargo containers this July compared with 323,300 in the same period last year.







KATHIMERINI: The measures against fuel smuggling have not been activated

TA NEA: Woe to the young. The government plays games with university-entry exams in order to gain votes.

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The right-wing of socialist party PASOK revolts and aligns itself with New Democracy on the issue regarding the equation of communism and Nazism.

AVGI: New Democracy’s black propaganda backfires

RIZOSPASTIS: The intensification of anticommunism is a prelude to the escalation of anti-popular attacks

KONTRA NEWS: The children are arguing about Stalin!

DIMOKRATIA: Receipts lottery: Ministry of Finance will grant 1,000 lucky persons 1,000 Euros each

NAFTEMPORIKI: Fever for the third bailout programme review

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — TIMMERMANS AND JOUROVÁ TAKE STAND AGAINST NATIONALISM: Today commemorates the day “Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which marked the beginning of one of the darkest periods in the recent history of our continent,” European Commissioner First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourová say in a statement seen by Playbook, to be released today.

“Totalitarian regimes across Europe restricted people’s freedoms; violated their rights and made millions of ordinary citizens victims of their ideology. We must remember past horrors to give us the knowledge and strength to reject those who seek to revive these ideologies.”

In a video (watch here), Timmermans says: “Twice, we Europeans tried to commit collective suicide … If fear takes over in society, if hatred of the other becomes the norm, this is where we end up: neighbors lying together in a cemetery … I maintain that nationalists are unpatriotic. A true patriot … craves cooperation with others, he sees the strength found in compromise, debate and unity. To be a patriot is to be European, to be European is to be a patriot.”


COUNCIL — MACRON’S EASTERN EUROPE TOUR BEGINS: French President Emmanuel Macron heads east to tame the flow of cheaper labor. He will meet Slavkov Triangle leaders (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia) rather than the Visegrád Four (which includes Poland and Hungary) in Salzburg today. After that, Macron flies to Romania and Bulgaria.

COMMISSION — VESTAGER STARTS PROBE OF BAYER-MONSANTO MERGER: Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, opened an in-depth probe into Bayer’s controversial $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto on Tuesday, citing a list of competition concerns that will almost certainly drag the review into 2018. Vestager has received thousands of emails and tweets from concerned EU citizens, though most of them are templates from websites like SumOfUs. She still took the time to respond, pointing out health concerns aren’t part of the process by which the Commission will sign off (or not) on the merger.

COMMISSION — HAHN WANTS NEW TURKEY STRATEGY: After months of worsening relations between Berlin and Ankara, Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for enlargement, said the time had come for EU countries to reconsider their long term strategy towards Turkey. “I believe it is time for the member states to discuss the strategic implications” of Ankara’s behavior, Hahn told Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Shrugging alone is not a political strategy in the long run.” Ninety percent of Germans want accession talks with Turkey halted, according to a poll for Die Welt.

PARLIAMENT — ECR MEP CALLS JOURNALISTS ‘PAID URINALS’: Nikolay Barekov, a right wing MEP in the European Conservatives and Reformists group, is under fire from the Association of European Journalists after he described the Bulgarian arm of the organization as “scum” and “paid urinals.”

TERRORISM — SPAIN SUSPECTS PLANNED LARGER ATTACK: Catalan police believe the men who carried out attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils last week were planning a bomb attack but were forced to change course when the device exploded during assembly.

Finnish PM urges fast-track of intelligence law: “The right to life is more important than the right to privacy,” said Juha Sipilä, Finland’s prime minister, urging lawmakers to agree new rules that would give the country’s intelligence agencies more surveillance powers.


Italy punching above its weight: Only seven NATO members spend less as a proportion of GDP than Italy on defense. But the country is punching above its weight when it comes to European security in other ways, particularly on migration rescue and management, writes the Atlantic Council’s Elisabeth Braw.

Libya leader interview: “When migrants reach Europe, they will move freely. If, God forbid, there are terrorist elements among the migrants, a result of any incident will affect all of the EU,” Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the U.N.-backed unity government in Tripoli, told the Times. In a separate feature, the Times argues the EU’s migrant relocation scheme has failed.

Armed groups prevent migrants from leaving Libya: Anonymous sources told a Reuters reporter an armed group is stopping boats carrying refugees from leaving the Libyan coast for Italy.

POLAND — WARSAW REVIVES CALL FOR GERMAN WWII REPATRIATIONS: Sixty-three percent of Poles support Germany repaying at least part of the cost of rebuilding Poland after the havoc Germany wreaked during World War II. It’s no coincidence Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, is hammering the point during the German election campaign, reports Michał Broniatowski.

BELGIUM — MEET THE MAN EXPOSING A MESSY CULTURE OF POLITICAL SIDE JOBS: Belgian politicians have their fingers in dozens of pies. Sometimes that keeps publicly owned entities running smoothly. Other times politicians receive millions for fake jobs, or to attend meetings about homelessness. The resulting scandals have claimed the scalp of the Brussels mayor and the government of the country’s French-speaking region. Cynthia Kroet profiles Christophe Van Gheluwe, an IT engineer from Brussels, who runs Belgium’s transparency bible: website Cumuleo, which records all the roles and jobs of Belgian politicians.


EU to London: Show us the money, or else. The U.K. must propose how to calculate its EU exit bill or next week’s Brexit talks will stall, three senior diplomatic officials briefed on the negotiations told POLITICO’s Simon Marks and Giulia Paravicini. EU negotiators will also demand more detail on how the U.K. intends to permanently guarantee rights for EU citizens living in Britain and specifications about Ireland’s border.

UK hints at ECJ climbdown: The red-tops aren’t happy. Critics accused Prime Minister Theresa May’s government of backtracking on one of its key Brexit red lines Tuesday, as ministers prepared to set out plans to end the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. While a new U.K. position paper, published Wednesday, is likely to reinforce May’s stance that Brexit should mean the U.K. taking full control over its laws, opponents say a shift in ministers’ language is evidence the government will make concessions over the future role of the European court. More from Charlie Cooper.

Post-Brexit terror threat: Britain’s Home Office, then under the purview of Theresa May, drafted, then buried a report that said Britain would be less secure from “terrorism, criminality and illegal migration” after Brexit, the Times revealed overnight. “Co-operation with EU countries would continue if the U.K. were to leave the EU,” the report states, according to the Times. “But none of the tools for co-operation EU countries have available with countries outside the EU match the speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of the tools that are available for co-operation between EU members.”

Irish border truth serum: Irish PM Leo Varadkar admitted both that border solutions in the style proposed by the U.K work in practice, and that he remains opposed to them.

GERMANY — SCHÄUBLE’S PLAN FOR SOUTHERN EUROPE AID: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble will propose a plan after his country’s September 24 election that would see southern eurozone countries able to access European Stability Mechanism funds to increase investments during recessions, Bild reports. Such a move would be a significant shift for Schäuble. In exchange, Bild writes, Schäuble wants the ESM to have more input into countries’ debt and budgets.

GERMANY — SCHULZ URGES NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT: At a campaign rally, Martin Schulz, SPD candidate for German chancellor, said he would remove U.S. nuclear weapons from German soil and urge an end to a weapons race he said U.S. President Donald Trump was encouraging.

AUSTRIA — KURZ URGES EU COMMITMENT TO BALKANS: Sebastian Kurz, Austrian foreign minister and leader of the center-right ÖVP,  said the EU must remain committed to the Balkans due to the rising influence of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the region. “In Sarajevo and Pristina, for example, women are paid to wear the full veil in public,” said Kurz in an interview with Handelsblatt.

Austrian Dieselgate solution mirrors that of Germany: Austria’s Transport Minister Jörg Leichtfried said Tuesday he agreed with carmakers to update the software of 600,000 diesel cars to reduce pollution following a similar deal struck in Germany after a large-scale emissions scandal. Leichtfried said the deal also included extra payments to buyers of more environmentally friendly cars. POLITICO Pro Energy and Environment and Transport subscribers can read more here.

BALKANS — EU URGES CALM BETWEEN BELGRADE, SKOPJE: After Serbia pulled its diplomats out of Macedonia Monday, the European Commission and David McAllister, chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, urged both countries to resolve the dispute peacefully. In a statement, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov denied the country’s intelligence services had acted against Serbia. “If there are any misunderstandings, we believe that the right way to address them is through direct dialogue,” said Dimitrov, adding he had tried to call Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić.

TECH MEETS POLITICS — HOLLANDE AT WEB SUMMIT: Former French President François Hollande will speak at Forum, Web Summit’s invite-only tech and policy event. The conference will be held in Lisbon November 6-9. Margrethe Vestager will also speak.


POSTCARD FROM COLUMBUS, GEORGIA: Not many people in this city of 200,000 turned their heads to tune in to President Trump’s address to the nation this week; mostly because no main street bars or restaurants were screening it. Playbook’s in-laws chose not to change their dinner schedule to watch the speech at home. “I know we should. But we’re all just so sick of hearing about him,” is a fair summary of their attitude. They’re not Democrats, either. Playbook asked people at BBQs and cafes what they thought of the U.S. president. The most common response: “crazy.”

NATO secretary-general backs Trump on Afghanistan: “NATO remains fully committed to Afghanistan,” said Jens Stoltenberg.

‘America is out of ideas in Afghanistan’: Susan Glasser writes: “President Trump proved one thing beyond the shadow of a doubt in his Afghanistan strategy speech Monday night: After nearly 16 years of fighting America’s longest war, there are no new ideas. He called his plan ‘dramatically different.’ It wasn’t …  He repeatedly vowed to ‘win’ a conflict that his Defense Secretary James Mattis told Congress recently ‘we are not winning.’”