24-07-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 24-07-2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

IMF’s debt ceiling clips Athens’ chances for market exit before Aug. 2018

The scrutiny that fell last week on the IMF’s debt ceiling provision, and especially on the way it affects the Fund’s participation in the Greek program, belies the fact that the IMF is obliged to calculate this factor in all of the programs where it has involvement.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1260718/imfs-debt-ceiling-clips-athens-chances-for-market-exit-before-aug-2018

Calm market reaction after IMF report means Athens may tap markets this week

The calm reaction of the markets to the International Monetary Fund’s stance on Greece means that the government’s plans for a trial bond issue may be revived this week.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220308/article/ekathimerini/business/calm-market-reaction-after-imf-report-means-athens-may-tap-markets-this-week

Varoufakis: Tsipras wanted to sack central banker Stournaras well before assuming power

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ “tell-tale” book about his six-month tenure in office and the run-up to leftist SYRIZA’s landslide election victory continues to generate intense scrutiny by the local press, with another revealing passage dealing with current Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earning front-page coverage on Friday.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1260740/varoufakis-tsipras-wanted-to-sack-central-banker-stournaras-well-before-assuming-power

Turkey reserves area in Aegean for military exercises

Turkey has issued a maritime order, or NAVTEX, to reserve a sea area between the islands of Psara, Skyros and Evia for naval exercises, including the firing of live ammunition.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220314/article/ekathimerini/news/turkey-reserves-area-in-aegean-for-military-exercises

Kos dusts itself off after deadly quake hits island

One of Greece’s most popular islands, Kos, was trying to recover on Friday after a major earthquake struck at around 1.30 a.m., killing two people, injuring dozens and causing damage to the port.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220299/article/ekathimerini/news/kos-dusts-itself-off-after-deadly-quake-hits-island

Major European interest seen for gas grid operator DESFA

Sources from the government and the state sell-off fund (TAIPED) express their optimism for the first stage of a tender for the privatization of gas grid operator DESFA that is to be completed on Monday with the expression of interest from potential investors.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220301/article/ekathimerini/business/major-european-interest-seen-for-gas-grid-operator-desfa

Big changes for over-indebted companies

Major changes are coming for over-indebted enterprises, as lenders will be going ahead with the immediate replacement of their management or even the sale of companies that do not pay off their dues.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220319/article/ekathimerini/business/big-changes-for-over-indebted-companies

OTP to buy Banca Romaneasca from National Bank of Greece, report says

Hungary’s OTP Bank has agreed a deal to buy Romania’s Banca Romaneasca from the National Bank of Greece (NBG), two sources with knowledge of the deal told Reuters on Friday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220273/article/ekathimerini/business/otp-to-buy-banca-romaneasca-from-national-bank-of-greece-report-says

ATHEX: Benchmark ends week with losses

After five straight weeks of gains the benchmark of the Greek bourse ended in the red for this week as it went down 1.23 percent.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220289/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-benchmark-ends-week-with-losses

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: The expensive adventure of real estate asset transfers

TO VIMA: Minors in the room. The tragicomedy of the first SYRIZA government through the eyes of the [then Finance Minister] Giannis Varoufakis

REAL NEWS: New two-gear pensions

PROTO THEMA: Venomous revelations about PM Alexis Tsipras made by former Finance Minister Giannis Varoufakis

AVGI: The Greek Church’s property comes to light

RIZOSPASTIS: The only ‘exit’ for the Greek people is the struggle for contemporary needs

MONDAY PAPERS

TA NEA: The PM is hiding after the revelations of former Finance Minister Varoufakis. The government back in 2015 was fatal and benighted

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Greek judges claim a political role

KONTRA NEWS: Who are the ones hiding behind Varoufakis

DIMOKRATIA: Special payroll slashed

NAFTEMPORIKI: First crash test for state revenues

COMMISSION — EU WANTS TO THROW BOOK AT US OVER NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS: First Brussels warned the Americans over steel tariffs, now it’s Russia sanctions. According to an internal Commission note seen by Playbook, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to retaliate “within days” against the United States if it uses possible new sanctions against Russia to interfere in European energy projects.

The draft U.S. sanctions law would target Russian energy, financial, railways, shipping and metals and mining sectors. Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a deal on the sanctions Saturday, and the House of Representatives is due to vote Tuesday on the bill.

The Commission note said “The measures risk breaking the transatlantic and G7 unity” on handling Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Ukraine. The draft measures are designed to give U.S President Donald Trump discretion to impose sanctions on any company that contributes to the development or operation of energy export pipelines in the Russian Federation or to Europe, or engages in oil ventures with Russian companies.

The biggest affected interest would be the mooted Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, itself a source of political controversy in the EU, though the Commission note says “the impact would in reality be much wider.” The full details here. POLITICO Pro Trade, Energy and Environment and Transport subscribers can read the full note here.

BREXIT CORNER … 

Ireland’s British bridge to EU markets burned by Brexit: Irish producers transport their goods across the U.K. by land to cut the time it takes to get perishable goods into the hands of other European consumers. If the U.K. leaves the EU’s customs union after Brexit, that shortcut will become a costly slowdown instead, report Joshua Posaner and Emmet Livingstone.

Frankfurt’s sober pitch for post-Brexit business: The German financial capital may not be making as big a fuss, but it is beating out Paris in the race to woo bankers relocating from London to Continental Europe due to Brexit. As Paris promised tax breaks, authorities in Frankfurt touted the city as the “only location worldwide with two central banks” — the European Central Bank and Deutsche Bundesbank. It seems when it comes to bankers, expertise trumps pomp.

Doing the Fox plot: U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox wrote to the BBC’s director-general, accusing the Beeb of “biased” Brexit coverage by “willfully” ignoring positive stories about leaving the EU, and complaining the BBC didn’t want to interview him on a recent trip to Paris. Fox will speak in Washington D.C. today about the possible shape of future U.K.-U.S. trade relations.

Brexit basics: A note for U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: a country does not have to be in the EU to be in the EU’s single market.

UK — THERESA MAY NO-CONFIDENCE LETTER: The Sunday Times reports “At least 15 MPs have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in the prime minister as part of a plot to oust her before the [September party] conference season.”

POSTCARD FROM BUDAPEST …

Poland’s best ally: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pledged to support Poland in an alleged EU “inquisition” into the state of rule of law in Poland. Orbán made the remarks while speaking to the same party audience he delivered his famous “illiberalism” speech to in 2015.

Playbook is in Budapest, having spent the weekend enjoying the World Aquatics Championships, which is bringing out a fierce pride among Hungarians. Playbook has never heard such loud crowds in 25 years of watching championship swimming.

It’s difficult to fault Budapest as a city: The relaxed grandeur is part Barcelona, part Paris, part Vienna. The parliament, in particular, is extraordinary, perhaps more than any other, both day and night.

Iron Lady, Iron Nation: Katinka Hosszú, triple 2016 Olympic gold medallist and a cultural icon to her fellow Hungarians, is the star swimmer this week. The city is plastered in billboards featuring her image. “I think and I hope all Hungarians get inspired and motivated by me,” she told POLITICO’s Peter Baugh. It’s a level of adulation of which a politician can only dream.

Beyond swimming, Hosszú is both a brand builder and activist. Her two big projects: setting up a global professional swimmers’ union, and her “Iron Nation” campaign, which extends her Iron Lady image well beyond the usual endorsement for swimwear brands.

In Hungary politics is sport and sport is politics: If it sounds far-fetched that Hosszú could take her brand into other types of public life, consider that Hungary’s sports minister is Olympic swimming silver medallist Tünde Szabó.

Heavily guarded championships: From golf buggies to armored vehicles, the Hungarian police are everywhere, as are temporary fences. Uniformed military officers even delivered the flags at each victory ceremony.

Thumbs up: Budapest’s well-developed and marked bicycle lanes.

Thumbs down: For a huge international event to work, the city needs more multilingual problem-solvers and fewer monolingual instruction followers.

BUDAPEST COFFEE TIPS: Espresso Embassy (Arany Janos út 15) and My Little Melbourne (Madách Imre út 3).

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UK — BBC GENDER PAY GAP DISPUTE STILL HOT TOPIC: Ten female presenters are set to sue the BBC over its alleged gender pay gap, reports The Independent.

POLAND — PROTESTS IN MAJOR CITIES CONTINUE: Anti-government protesters are still in the streets in Polish cities, reports the Associated Press. See a jaw-dropping video of Sunday’s Warsaw event here. Meanwhile, the Law and Justice party has tried to liken its judiciary reforms to rules in other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands. But while parliament can appoint judges in those countries, it can’t get rid of them as easily.

FRANCE — MACRON SUFFERS FIRST BIG DROP IN POPULARITY: French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity rating dropped 10 points in July amid an outcry over his proposed budget cuts.

OPINION — MACRON MUST BE CAREFUL TO AVOID SARKOZY TRAP: It’s one thing to want to reform France. It’s another to withstand protests against such reform. Dalibor Rohac writes: “A stronger, more assertive France would be a good thing for the world. But there is only so much geopolitical weight that can be thrown around by an economy growing at 1.4 percent annually, with a youth unemployment rate over 21 percent, and a public debt level close to 100 percent. Here’s hoping Macron understands that.”

GERMANY — UNDERSTANDING GERMANY’S FEUD WITH ERDOĞAN: German politicians have lost patience with the Turkish president following the arrest of their citizens and journalists, reports Matthew Karnitschnig.

GERMANY — ICYMI, ANOTHER SELF-INFLICTED BLOW FOR CAR INDUSTRY: The European Commission along with the German cartel office have received information about whether German carmakers colluded illegally in what may be one of the biggest cartel cases ever. Over the weekend the Commission said such information was being assessed but “it is premature at this stage to speculate further.” Playbook will say this: If the allegations are true, the collective fine could run higher than €10 billion.

ITALY — REMEMBER MATTEO RENZI? The former Italian prime minister is struggling to find his political touch ahead of the Italian election, expected early 2018. “Something isn’t working and we have six months to sort it out,” lawmaker Matteo Richetti, the PD’s head of comms, told Reuters. Renzi will adopt a “very low profile” in August and only return to television screens in the middle of September.

BELGIUM — NEW REGIONAL GOVERNMENT FOR WALLONIA? RTBF reports conservative and liberal parties could oust the Socialists from Belgian regional government this week, but pulling together a new cabinet will not be easy.

TURKEY — ERDOĞAN’S ARABIAN TIGHTROPE: Zia Weise runs through the challenges facing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his whistle-stop tour of the Gulf this week, particularly given his strong support for Qatar, which is the subject of a blockade by other Gulf states. Having already backed the losing sides in Egypt and Syria, Erdoğan now needs to balance his support for Qatar while staying in Saudi Arabia’s good books.

OPINION — CYBERATTACKS ARE THE NEW CHALLENGE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY: By Michael Ruhle and Lukas Trakimavicius from the energy security section in NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division.

ALMOST SUMMER READ: Open Arms, new U.K. Lib Dem leader Vince Cable’s first book, released September 7.

TRUMP WORLD …

WELCOME TO ACT 2 OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — THE ARRIVAL OF ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI:

The new White House communications director is a New York billionaire hedge fund manager.

What Scaramucci thinks of Europe: Speaking to reporters including Playbook at the World Economic Forum in January, Scaramucci said: “I am student of European history. The EU has been a success, it has kept the peace where it has been difficult to maintain peace.” He then went on to say governments that spend more than 25 percent of their GDPs start to hurt their countries, and the EU was “not being managed effectively for the people it is supposed to serve.”

On Russia: “If there is one nation that is on this planet that can take out the U.S., it’s Russia,” Scaramucci said. Russians are “very proud people. The sanctions have had a very positive political effect on Putin. The Russians would eat snow in the middle of winter in bare feet in order to survive.”

Read Scaramucci’s old tweets here. He hated walls, liked Hillary and was in favor of gun control. It’s not surprising he deleted the tweets.