24-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

24-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tsipras, Zaev to discuss name prospects in Davos

Amid rising tensions in both Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over United Nations-backed talks on the latter’s name, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to meet his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev in Davos on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, to determine whether there are grounds for a solution to the contentious issue.


Greek minister to Turkish delegation: High court ruling ends extradition issue involving 8 Turk officers

Greece’s relevant justice minister on Tuesday told a visiting delegation from Turkey’s justice ministry that the possibility of the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen, who fled to Greece in the wake of a failed coup in the neighboring country, is closed.


Regling: Going back on reforms will not be tolerated

European Stability Mechanism chief Klaus Regling warned on Tuesday that Greece’s creditors will not tolerate the Greek government backtracking on its reforms agreed in exchange for debt-easing measures after the completion of the bailout program this summer.


SEV stresses need to tackle shortage of special skills

Greek workers need to acquire new skills in order to meet the requirements of the labor market and respond to the challenges the transition to the digital economy entails, according to a special report by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).


Greek bond yields hit record lows

Short-dated Greek bond yields hit record lows in Tuesday’s trading.


Fitch warns of Greek systemic banks’ vulnerability

Fitch on Tuesday raised “warning bells” over Greek banks’ financial condition, with the credit ratings firm pointing to their vulnerability due to “any deterioration of the Greek operating environment due to their exceptionally weak asset quality, high capital encumbrance by unreserved non-performing exposures (NPEs) and tight liquidity, Fitch Ratings says. This is reflected in their Viability Ratings of ‘ccc’.”


ATHEX: Benchmark rises to its highest point in 35 months

The decline of Greek bond yields, the rise of the stock markets in Germany and other key eurozone countries and the better-than-expected outcome of Monday’s Eurogroup contributed to another day of notable gains for Greek equities on Tuesday, on increased trading volume. The psychologically significant 1,000-point level may not be beyond reach for the benchmark in the coming weeks.







KATHIMERINI: The public sector is a Lernaean Hydra. The number of state organizations increased – The number of state employees remains unknown

ETHNOS: The plan regarding auctions

TA NEA: The government makes fake promises while eyeing early elections

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Heavy burden for the Greek state. Strict timetable for the 4th bailout program review

AVGI: New Democracy leader Mitsotakis is hostage of ex-military personnel, nationalism and the far-right

RIZOSPASTIS: Auctions and new taxes lead the anti-popular attack

KONTRA NEWS: Greek bonds break all records

DIMOKRATIA: Nimetz at the service of Skopje

NAFTEMPORIKI: The scenarios regarding the debt


Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Paolo Gentiloni take the stage today (Gentiloni will be on CNBC at 9 a.m. Brussels time), after a crowd-pleasing speech by honorary European Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. The Canadian prime minister embraced the TimesUp campaign against sexual harassment, and landed a punch against President Donald Trump by announcing the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. In the process, he also overshadowed India’s Narendra Modi, who delivered a snooze-fest of platitudes.

Catch the latest Davos Confidential podcast, previewing Europe day at Davos and featuring Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Listen in here.

Europe is back, says EU: The European Policy Strategy Center has published a report identifying the underlying reasons for the EU’s economic recovery. It argues that the next wave of innovation — deep tech, robotics, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence — is set to play to Europe’s strength in science, research and industry.

ICYMI — POLITICO’s Davos panel on post-rage politics: Watch here.


ECB — THE GREAT CENTRAL BANK RESHUFFLE IS ON:  The contest to succeed Mario Draghi is now officially open. The president of the European Central Bank won’t leave office until October 21, 2019, but the major changing of the guard that will culminate with the appointment of his successor next year is already underway. POLITICO’s Pierre Briançon reports: “In Europe right now, said a French government official, ‘the ECB reshuffle is the only game that counts. It’s the only reason the Eurogroup president’s job wasn’t contested at all — for the first time ever. All the governments were saving themselves for the ECB derby.’”

COMMISSION — DATA PRIVACY FREAK OUT: The European Commission is worried Europe isn’t ready for its landmark General Data Protection Regulation to enter into force on May 25. At their college meeting later this morning, Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová will present 16 pages of guidance aimed at companies, governments and data protection authorities. It is expected to lay out a to-do list to get the new rules right. Some countries, like Italy, are lagging in adopting their national laws. Others, like Poland, are caught in a messy discussion over how to tweak their laws. “Roughly 100 days from now, strong new data protection rules will apply all over Europe. We do good to get ready, take the risks seriously and make use of all the opportunities out there,” Jourová said.

PARLIAMENT — CZARNECKI SET TO BE OUSTED FROM VICE PRESIDENCY: Ryszard Czarnecki, a Law and Justice MEP and vice president of the European Parliament, looks likely to be kicked out of his position over comments he made about Róża Thun, an MEP belonging to the opposition Civic Platform, according to TVN24. The web portal reported that both Czarnecki and Thun met President Antonio Tajani Tuesday, and that a final decision would be taken on Thursday.

PARLIAMENT — MEPS BACK TRANSNATIONAL LISTS: Parliament’s influential constitutional affairs committee backed a move to shrink the size of the Parliament in 2019, post Brexit. Under the proposal, Parliament will reduce from 751 members to 705, with the remaining 27 (currently) British seats to be redistributed among other member countries to compensate for existing biases in representation.

Spitzenkandidaten support: The committee also reaffirmed its support for the Spitzenkandidaten process, whereby MEPs will only back a candidate for Commission president if that individual comes from the party that finishes first in the European election. This puts the center-right European People’s Party in prime position to retain the Commission presidency.

Playbook 2019 election thought bubble: What if Emmanuel Macron were to succeed in creating a new centrist bloc that placed second in the European elections? Would that allow Margrethe Vestager to run, become a credible Spitzenkandidaten runner-up, and then slot in to the next Commission as the new Frans Timmermans? That is, become first vice president, possibly retaining her current competition portfolio within that role. The Danish commissioner told Belgian media earlier this month she thought she could “do some fantastic things” with a second mandate.

EUI EXPANDS: The Robert Schuman Center at the European University Institute has set up a new European governance and politics program.


Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo spoke to Playbook in Davos. Here are some of the top quotes.

Bettel says small is beautiful: “My country is proof that … size doesn’t matter,” the leader of the notably tax efficient Duchy told us, saying Luxembourg is “always able to think about the next big thing,” having leaped through eras in which farming, steel and banking dominated the economy. Now it’s funds and space mining.

European reform in the wake of Brexit: “Very often I’ve got the impression that we do not realize how strong we are when we are united. To be squeezed between the United States and Asia, sometimes we feel weak as a partner, but if we act together we are strong.”

De Croo’s lifelong universal education revolution: De Croo and his WEF allies and Belgian liberal party “are advocating what we call a universal learning right, where we would basically say any citizen has a right to two years of education in the period of his or her career. In one piece or spread out over a longer period,” he said. The initiative would be funded by credits allocated to employers, in a similar way to the carbon emissions trading system.

Brexit reality check: “For the U.K. this is topic number one. For Europe today this is topic number five and number six. So it is less important for us than it is for the Brits. That is one imbalance. Second element is that if you look at all the red lines that the United Kingdom has put forward … at some point on the British side they will understand that you cannot have all those red lines and then still say we will be the trading hub of this globalized world but have very limited relation with the biggest trading bloc in the world.”

PODCASTS DU JOUR: Paul Adamson speaks to Ciarán Devane, chief executive of the British Council. AFP’s France correspondent Katy Lee and Amsterdam opera singer Dominic Kraemer look at politics and culture around the Continent in the latest episode of “The Europeans.”

HARASSMENT — LONDON’S GROPEY MEN-ONLY BLACK-TIE EVENT: The FT has published an investigative piece on a decades-old secretive, men-only charity fundraiser held at London’s Dorchester Hotel. It raises millions for charity, but many of the hired hostesses report being groped, harassed and propositioned.

FIRST PERSON — ONLINE ABUSE FOR FEMALE MPS AND NONE FOR ME: British MP John Mercer appeared alongside fellow MP Ruth Smeeth on the same TV show Monday night. She was viciously attacked on social media. He was not. “We differ in sex, party and heritage, but little else,” Mercer writes in an oped for POLITICO. “The reason for people’s abuse of her and not me can only, therefore, be for these three things that separate us.”


UK — MAY THE FORCE BE WITH HER: Ahead of her Thursday speech, Charlie Cooper and Tom McTague report that British Prime Minister Theresa May continues to be plagued by problems, most notably her big-mouthed foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

BULGARIA — NO CONFIDENCE VOTE TODAY: The opposition Socialist Party tabled a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in response to what they consider the government’s failed anti-corruption strategy. “The deafening absence in the plenary chamber of the prime minister is a self-confession of guilt for corruption,” said Socialist leader Korneliya Ninova.

SPAIN — MADRID WON’T LET PUIGDEMONT BACK IN: The Spanish government is stepping up surveillance to prevent the ousted Catalan separatist leader from re-entering Spain, according to Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido. “We’re going to see to it that he cannot enter — even in the trunk of a car,” he said.

SINN FEIN MOVES ON: Ken Murray profiles the party’s new leader Mary Lou McDonald, who takes over from one of the most divisive figures in European politics: Gerry Adams.

GERMANY — SOCIAL DEMOCRATS FALL TO NEW LOWS: According to a new poll, support for Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats has dropped to 18 percent, putting the party just four points above the far-right Alternative for Germany.

EUROPE’S BOOMING EAST: Central and Eastern EU members may be in Brussels’ bad books over democratic and legal standards but their economies have become some of the bloc’s star performers. And it’s prompting the region’s political leaders to demand a greater say in the future of the EU, reports Lili Bayer.

CZECH REPUBLIC — ZEMAN CONTINUES TO BACK BABIŠ: Ahead of a presidential run-off vote this weekend, Czech President Miloš Zeman said he plans to give Andrej Babiš another chance to form a government regardless of whether or not he is reelected as president. Zeman is polling neck-and-neck with liberal Jiří Drahoš ahead of the vote, according to a recent survey.

MALTA — COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION: The 114 members of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly have signed a resolution stating that “the international community has a responsibility to monitor the ongoing investigation” into the killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to ensure it takes place “thoroughly and impartially.”


UK COULD HAVE ‘SPECIFIC CONSULTATIONS’ DURING TRANSITION: During a hearing in the Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, Guy Verhofstadt, the institution’s Brexit point man, acknowledged: “If they are no longer part of decisions, it could be necessary that there is a consultation with the U.K.” The question of how long that transition period should last has been kicked into the long grass, with the option that the European Council could extend the period if needed, according to two officials who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity. Charlie Cooper and Maïa de La Baume have more for POLITICO Brexit Pros.


CANADA — NAFTA TALKS UNDER WAY: Fresh from sealing a revived TPP deal, a week of negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement are now under way in Montreal.

US — RUSSIA PROBE: The first member of Donald Trump’s cabinet is questioned by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

TURKEY — LIFE AND DEATH FOR LGBT SYRIAN REFUGEES: Alexia Tsagkari investigated for Balkan Insight the plight of LGBT refugees from Syria who, unable to travel to Europe, have been forced to sell sex to survive, risking the death penalty.