24-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

24-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU


Thursday, August 24 2017

Gov’t drafts flurry of bills to bolster positive narrative

The government is drafting a series of bills to go to Parliament in the coming days with the hope that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be able to showcase them during his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) to bolster his narrative of the country turning a page and heading toward recovery and growth.


Kontonis’s refusal to attend Estonia conference draws response

Addressing an international conference on crimes committed by communist regimes, Estonian Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu said on Wednesday that he would respond in writing to the refusal by his Greek counterpart, Stavros Kontonis, to attend the event in Tallinn.


Berlin clarifies position on ESM in the wake of Bild article

Germany’s finance ministry on Wednesday issued a quick clarification after a same-day Bild article claimed that German FinMin Wolfgang Schaeuble has “reversed” his position over any future transformation of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).


New center-left party braces for leadership race

Potential contenders in the Democratic Alignment leadership election will have to declare their candidacy by September 15, Kathimerini reports, adding that campaigning will last for six weeks.


 Minister threatened with violence if school prayer, anthem abolished

Education Minister Costas Gavroglou has been subject to email threats, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency reported on Wednesday, after a message was sent to his personal account.


 Hydrocarbon exploration maps for Ionian and Crete unveiled

The government on Wednesday provided the locations of the three blocks – two off the coast of Crete and one in the Ionian Sea – that will be tendered for hydrocarbon exploration.


 Greece a key EU gateway for counterfeit goods

Greece represents a key gateway for counterfeit goods, including jewelry, cosmetics and toys, entering the European Union, while the market share of such products compared to the real thing is higher than previously thought, a related market report has concluded.


 Fuel flows remain unchecked

The Panhellenic Federation of Fuel Station Owners and Oil Traders (POPEK) has raised the alarm over continuing problems that distort the country’s fuel market, insisting that government decisions aimed at tackling smuggling have not been enforced.


6K applications so far for out-of-court settlement process

More than 5,000 individuals and businesses with private sector arrears have so far submitted at least a portion of the paperwork needed for inclusion in an out-of-court settlement process that finally went on line last month.







KATHIMERINI: Lawlessness party in the exploitation of Greek beaches

TA NEA: Finance Minister Tsakalotos demands to remain in his position and block the PM’s plans for government reshuffle


AVGI: The white-washing of Nazism failed

RIZOSPASTIS: The anti-popular plans bring a heavy agenda

KONTRA NEWS: Italian revolution against the Euro!

TO PONTIKI: Time for business

DIMOKRATIA: Christoforakos to stand trial for kickbacks given to PASOK – New Democracy

NAFTEMPORIKI: A list of 11 challenges for the Greek government and the economy

COMMISSION — EU TACKLES DIRTY BUSINESS OF RECYCLING SHIPS: The European Commission wants shipowners to stop beaching their vessels for millions of euros in scrap metal income in South Asia, and have them recycle each ship at a green shipyard for nothing in Europe instead. Such is the lure of scrap money that despite the fact EU-based companies control 40 percent of the world’s ships, only 9 percent of them fly under the European flag at the end of their lives. The Commission has good reason to act: beach pollution and workplace deaths are just some of the consequences of ship dumping. Cathy Buyck and Marion Solletty explain.


Data protection today’s new UK Brexit position paper: In a statement late Wednesday, the British government said a future EU-U.K. pact on data flows would “[reflect] the unprecedented alignment between British and European law and [recognize] the high data protection standards.” Translation: not much will change. More here for POLITICO Pro Technology, Health Care, Trade and Financial Services subscribers.

Brussels scoffs at UK customs plan: Five senior EU diplomats told POLITICO ahead of a key meeting today between national governments and EU Brexit negotiating team member Stéphanie Riso that the U.K. is at best “cherry-picking” and at worst living in a “fairy tale” when it comes to its plans to keep the benefits of EU customs club membership. Giulia Paravicini and Simon Marks have the story.

No Brexit bill details from UK next week: “David Davis will refuse to reveal any details about what Britain could pay towards a Brexit bill when European Union exit talks resume next week,” reports Jennifer Rankin.

More Home Office madness: The latest drama concerns about 100 letters the Home Office said were mistakenly sent to EU citizens keen to clarify their rights. The letters threatened to detain the recipients. They included one telling a Finnish academic married to a Briton that despite 10 years in the U.K., she had to leave immediately or face detention. The complaint here, and the apology via media. The latest incident bring into question how the Home Office and its agencies can manage the individual cases of 3 million EU27 citizens after Brexit, given the pattern of basic errors remains in place more than a year after the EU referendum.

Theresa May’s pink line — UK’s ECJ Brexit position paper …

The domestic angle: While officially this paper is about dispute resolution, it was billed to U.K. media in particular as London’s effort to end the reign of the European Court of Justice. The paper showed Prime Minister Theresa May’s sovereignty red line to be more of a diluted pink, but the PM appears to have found a way to tip-toe along it without aggravating her core Brexit supporters. Charlie Cooper and Annabelle Dickson explain.

The Brussels angle: The U.K. has put forward a model for enforcing EU citizens’ rights at odds with the EU’s. Bart Van Vooren, a senior lawyer in Covington’s Brexit task force, is otherwise hopeful of compromise. “Although it reads like a non-committal overview of possible options, there is a clear focus on the most advanced forms of institutional integration currently in existence (other than the EU itself, of course),” he says.

The key paragraphs to read and interpret: Paragraphs 27 and 52-54, illustrating how institutions similar to the EU (even if they go by another name) will be needed to manage the relationship and disputes. Charlie Cooper with all the details here.

Keir Starmer surgery: The U.K. Shadow Brexit Minister underwent knee surgery and is doing well.

WHAT BRITISH POLITICOS MURMUR ABOUT: Will the euro hit parity with the British pound for the first time? It’s only about 7 percent off drawing equal, and Brits returning from summer holidays abroad have been feeling the pinch.

FRANCE — MACRON WINS EASTERN SUPPORT FOR REFORM TO POSTED WORKER RULES: French President Emmanuel Macron kicked off his tour of Central and Eastern European countries in Austria Wednesday, and didn’t take long to make clear his views on the issue of posted workers. “The single European market and the free movement of workers is not meant to create a race to the bottom in terms of social regulations,” said Macron. “It is exactly this that is fueling populism and eroding confidence in the European project.”

The result: Slovakia and the outgoing Czech government said they’d work with him to reform the rules. Other eastern government have expressed skepticism that western countries simply want to install protectionism back into their labor markets.


Quote du jour: Criticized for not criticizing Trump this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Handelsblatt: “America cannot be great if it does not concern itself with things outside its borders.” h/t Martin Greive. Full story here.

Opinion — Merkel can’t see her time is running out: The chancellor may be 15 points up in the polls and crowing that the longer she stays, the better she gets, but veteran journalist Roger Boyes wonders whether she can survive a full four-year term.

Fact checking the election: Journalistico is a new daily fact-checking website. Daniel Baumann, an editor at Frankfurter Rundschau, heads the project. h/t Gorkana

Nearly half of voters undecided: Forty-six percent of German voters don’t know who to vote for in the September 24 parliamentary election, according to a poll published in Wednesday’s edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

ITALY — NORTHERN LEAGUE GOES SOFT ON THE EURO: To maximize its chances of returning to government in 2018, possibly as the core governing coalition member and not merely a junior partner, the Italian far-right party is softening its line on Europe. In other words: watch out Antonio Tajani (another possible center-right prime minister), report Jacopo Barigazzi and Giulia Paravicini.

FINLAND — HELPING UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS MAY BE OUTLAWED: Paula Risikko, Finland’s interior minister, is considering making it a criminal offence to help undocumented migrants, Yle reports.

ROMANIA — JUSTICE REFORMS PROMPT ALARM: Romania’s justice minister has presented a package of proposed changes to the judicial system that would limit the role of the president in naming key officials. Critics say it could weaken anti-corruption efforts. Minister Tudorel Toader said Wednesday the president should no longer appoint the general prosecutor and the chief anti-corruption prosecutor. He also suggested prosecutors and judges should face punishment for erroneous rulings and prosecutions. POLITICO’s Carmen PaunAP

ESTONIA MAY LAUNCH ITS OWN VIRTUAL CURRENCY: The cryptocurrency (think bitcoin) could be called estcoin and would be tied to the country’s e-residency program.

UKRAINE’S TICKING TIME BOMB FOR EUROPE: TUBERCULOSIS. Infection rates for TB are on the rise in Odessa, as is its twin epidemic HIV. Hospitals that are falling apart and a health care system struggling with corruption and low trust mean cure rates are as low as 38 percent. With millions of Ukrainians displaced or working abroad, that’s a cross-border problem. Lily Hyde has the story.

TRUMP WORLD — KUSHNER MEETS MID-EAST LEADERS: The basic rule of high-level diplomatic meetings is that peers meet peers. Whereas most countries need to send a prime minister to meet another prime minister, the U.S. because of its sheer power sometimes gets a free pass. For example, today U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Rarely if ever does a country get to send a mere adviser or family member. Step forward Jared Kushner, who is today meeting both Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

THE EX-FILES: François Fillon, the former prime minister and conservative presidential candidate, is now partner in the financial asset management firm Tikehau. More on L’Obs here.

WONK WORLD — TAXATION TRENDS IN THE EU: A new report by the European Commission.