24-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

24-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Govt claims creditors’ auditors confirmed ‘significant surpassing’ of 2017 fiscal goal; eyes sub-tranche’s disbursement

The government circulated a non paper on Monday afternoon claiming that the first day of negotiations with creditors’ top auditors in Athens – hours earlier – confirmed that the Greek state was “significantly surpassing” a target for the 2017 primary budget surplus.


Eurozone ready to do more to ease debt burden

Greece’s bailout program is back on track and fellow eurozone members stand ready, if necessary, to do more to manage its debt burden if Athens does its part, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday.


MoC between Athens, Seoul to boost e-governance in Greece

Greece and South Korea signed a MoC on Monday aimed at boosting e-governance in the former by employing know-how extended by Seoul.


Statistics authority: 2016 primary budget surplus at 3.7 rather than 3.9% of GDP

The primary budget surplus posted by the Greek state in 2016 was less than previously forecast, according to revised data released on Monday by the country’s independent statistics authority, with the figure reaching 3.7 percent of GDP, rather than 3.9 percent.


ND resubmits Greek diaspora vote proposal

In the wake of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit to the US last week and the praise he showered on Greeks living abroad, conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday resubmitted to Parliament his proposal to give diaspora Greeks the right to vote in Greek elections.


48-hour media strike in Greece through Thurs. morning

A 48-hour strike was called the Athens Journalists’ Union (ESIEA) beginning at 06.00 (04.00 GMT) on Tuesday, Oct. 24 until 06.00 on Thursday, Oct. 26.


Greeks slash spending on groceries by some 20 pct, study finds

Greeks have reduced their spending on grocery goods by about 20 percent since the beginning of the financial crisis, changing purchasing as well as dietary habits under the pressure of tax hikes and shrinking incomes, according to the results of a survey released this week in Athens.


ATHEX: Bank decline weighs heavily on benchmark

A major slump in Greek bank stocks on Monday – exceeding 5 percent – illustrated that foreign portfolios are pulling out of the local market in droves.







KATHIMERINI: Part time employment increases

ETHNOS: Agreement with the creditors regarding the bailout loan sub-tranche

TA NEA: The government loses support from top SYRIZA executives due to the F-16 fighter jets deal with the US

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Gambling may move mountains: The casino located on the mountain of Parnitha will be transferred inside the city Athens

AVGI: Georgiadis: New Democracy has no room for centrists

RIZOSPASTIS: Government, industry owners and international creditors make their ‘comeback’ for yet another round of attacks against the people

KONTRA NEWS: These are the names of the provocative MPs claiming retrospective compensations worth 15 million Euros!

DIMOKRATIA: The Greek army has been infiltrated by communists as well!

NAFTEMPORIKI: Green light for the 800-million-Euro bailout loan sub-tranche

When Playbook wondered what disaster would befall the European Commission headquarters this week after noxious fumes at the European Council and rats and Legionnaire’s Disease in Parliament, we didn’t imagine it would be messy, impossible to cork leaks. More on the Brexit Svengali war of words below.


The euro, the Schengen zone of passport-free travel and the eastward enlargement of the EU and NATO: brilliant ideas that in practice have stumbled into trouble, opening deep rifts in Europe. Paul Taylor reviews William Drozdiak’s new book Fractured Continent, and hits upon Drozdiak’s diagnosis of a deep-seated EU methodological problem: “the habit of setting out to achieve ambitious objectives with half-baked plans forged in late-night compromises, without anticipating what would happen when things go wrong.”



European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday that “nothing is true” in a story in German newspaper FAZ that alleged U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May “begged” him for help on Brexit during a dinner last week; an extraordinary claim against one of Europe’s most prestigious newspapers. Juncker didn’t have to say the phrase “fake news” for some to hear echoes of President Donald Trump.

“I had an excellent working dinner with Theresa May,” the Commission president told the BBC’s Adam Fleming. Asked if May had pleaded with him for help, Juncker said: “No, that’s not the style of British prime ministers.” Juncker also rejected reports he called May “tired” and “despondent,” saying “she was in good shape” and “she was fighting, as is her duty, so everything for me was OK.” Watch the video of the comments here.

After May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy accused Martin Selmayr, Juncker’s chief of staff, of being the source of the leak, Selmayr tweeted the story was an attempt to stitch up Brussels. “This is false. I know it does’t fit your cliché, @NickJTimothy. But @JunckerEU & I have no interest in weakening PM.” He continued: “I deny that 1/we leaked this; 2/Juncker ever said this; 3/we are punitive on Brexit. It’s an attempt 2 frame EU side & 2 undermine talks.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her part, was reportedly “furious” at the leak, according to the Times.

Playbook poll: Playbook’s Twitter followers are divided. Some 36 percent think a British official leaked the information, 34 percent say it was Selmayr, another 25 percent say another EU official was behind the leak, while 5 percent say FAZ made it all up. Full results.


Parliament debate today: The European Parliament plenary will today debate the problem of sexual harassment. It’s an issue that will hit close to home after the flood of allegations beginning to surface, dozens of them about MEPs and their staff. Playbook hears the debate will take place earlier than planned and there will be a vote: two signs of the seriousness with which the issue is being taken. BILD picked up the story, as did other media, including in Slovenia and Croatia.

Parliament reacts to allegations: Parliament President Antonio Tajani reacted “with shock and indignation” in a statement and also committed to “increase awareness of the facilities already in place.” He was referring to the creation of an advisory committee made up of MEPs to deal with harassment claims made by assistants, although the Parliament acknowledged that “so far, it has not received any formal complaints.” He also flagged a brochure for MEPs that explains harassment. These anti-harassment posters are also plastered over Parliament buildings.

MEPs’ brochure highlights …

— Sarcasm is out: The brochure includes the suggestion MEPs should‚ “avoid negative comments, cynicism and sarcasm on your staff’s intellectual capacities” because “even if it makes you feel good on the spot, you will lose in the medium and long term.”

— Help for accused MEPs: “If you are confronted with rumors or accusations of inappropriate behavior and harassment from your staff and you feel unable to resolve the problem alone, you may seek help from one of the members of the advisory committee,” the brochure reads. As a final warning, it notes harassing one’s staff could “have serious consequences for your political career, as journalists and political opponents will certainly use this against you.”

A brochure for assistants is still being prepared.

MEPs demand internal audit: In an email seen by Playbook, MEPs Edouard Martin, Maria Arena, Angelika Mlinar, Terry Reintke and Malin Björk demanded Tajani commission an external audit on “the situation of sexual harassment in the European Parliament,” create a “special dedicated committee on sexual harassment” and ensure “mandatory training for all staff and members on respect and dignity at work to ensure the zero-tolerance approach becomes the norm.”

By the numbers — 102: That’s the number of stories (some containing multiple allegations) received by Playbook via this form. POLITICO journalists have begun to verify the claims. The stories come from 95 women and seven men. Thirty-six people from the private sector connected to the EU reported incidents, 21 at Parliament, 18 at NGOs, 15 at the Commission and 10 at other EU institutions. More than half the respondents say they had not reported the incident to their workplace or police. Bosses and colleagues are equally likely to be named as aggressors.

A Parliament assistant explains the dilemma: Emily Iona Stewart tweeted that “any assistant speaking out will almost certainly lose their job” and the best-case scenario they can hope for is “the political group places you elsewhere. Or you have a pay out,” while their EU HR file is forever marked with the case. Stewart said Parliamentary assistant contracts must be brought in line with EU employment law “so assistants can’t be dismissed without notice, or lose jobs for speaking out.”

MEP says its a Mediterranean thing: Part of the problem is that sexual harassment is commonplace in Southern and Eastern Europe, according to Belgian Liberal MEP Hilde Vautmans, who said: “There are still things that have not been acceptable here for a long time.”

More support and activism groups: Period. runs workshops against harassment and sexism at the workplace.


Greens to call for Muscat’s resignation: Green MEPs Eva Joly and Sven Giegold are holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. in Strasbourg during which they are expected to call for the resignation of the Maltese government over its failure to properly investigate allegations of money-laundering involving Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff and former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi. In a letter responding to MEPs’ concerns, European Commissioner for Justice Vĕra Jourová said there “appear to be no grounds to suspect a systematic breach” of EU rules, meaning the Commission isn’t planning to take any action against Malta. Later in the day, MEPs will debate the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who spent the past few years publishing allegations of corruption involving numerous government figures.

MEP trip requests: The Conference of Committee Chairs will sign off on a list of 26 “missions” to places outside the EU for the first half of next year that can only take place if they’re “highly relevant” to MEPs’ policymaking work.

Fertilizer vote today: Lawmakers in the European Parliament today vote on a proposal that, if implemented, would reduce the cadmium content of fertilizers from 60mg/kg to 40mg after three years, and to 20mg after 12 years. In its fight against cadmium, the Commission found an unlikely ally: Andrey Guryev Jr., a Russian oligarch, who owns the phosphate mining company Phosagro (Russian phosphate has a naturally low cadmium level). POLITICO’s Giulia Paravicini met Guryev in Moscow before traveling to his mine at Apatit, 200 kilometres above the Arctic circle, to hear his perspective on the debate in Brussels.

COUNCIL — DIGITAL MINISTERS TRY TO SPEED UP WORK: After EU leaders reiterated their frustration at the slow pace of negotiations on key legislative proposals intended to create a digital single market, ministers gather today in Luxembourg to discuss how to speed them up. They’ll also begin talks on the cybersecurity package of reforms launched by the Commission last month.


GERMANY — BUNDESTAG REBOOTED: The Bundestag is set to meet for the first time since last month’s federal election in Germany, and with 709 members, it’ll be the biggest parliament in the western world. With the arrival of the far-right Alternative for Germany, which will represent the third largest bloc, the tone of debates is expected to become fiercer. POLITICO’s Janosch Delcker reports from Berlin.

AfD set to cash in: The AfD will be flush with millions of euros in public cash and MPs will get perks including first-class rail travel and the chance to set up a publicly funded foundation that could entrench their place in the political landscape, reports Philip Kaleta.

German MEPs head off to Bundestag: Several German MEPs, including Michael Theurer and Fabio de Masi, said farewell to their colleagues this week to take up new positions in the Bundestag. Wolf Klinz, a former MEP who since 2014 has advised banks on EU legislation for consultancy Cabinet DN, will replace Theurer. De Masi’s replacement is Martin Schirdewan.

SLOVAKIA — A ‘PRO-EUROPEAN ISLAND’ IN ITS REGION: Slovakia’s ruling elite continue the push to position their country at the heart of the EU, with the adoption of a statement committing the country to the bloc at an event Monday. Signatories included Prime Minister Robert Fico, President Andrej Kiska, and the parliament’s speaker, Andrej Danko. “Slovakia has become a pro-European island in the region,” said Fico. European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, who was present at the event, described the announcement as “the right decision at the right time” but urged Slovakia to keep close to its neighbors.

POLAND — RUMOR MILL HAS PM ON THE OUTS: Infighting within Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) is feeding the rumor mill ahead of a potential government reshuffle, reports Michał Broniatowski, with some claiming party leader Jarosław Kaczyński will take over from Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

ROMANIA — PM NOMINATES PREDECESSOR TO LEAD COMMUNICATIONS REGULATOR: Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose on Monday nominated his predecessor Sorin Grindeanu to lead the country’s national communications regulator ANCOM, national media reports. Grindeanu was ousted in a no-confidence vote initiated by his own Social Democrat Party in June after falling out with the powerful party leader Liviu Dragnea. Grindeanu said at the time that Dragnea had offered him other jobs at the head of some Romanian institutions in exchange for his resignation, but he had refused. Monday’s nomination appears to signal a rekindling of their relationship. Parliament will hold a confirmation hearing Thursday.

HUNGARY — ORBÁN WARNS OF SOROS INFLUENCE: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke out against globalization, “migrants’ invasion” and a financial speculator empire with a “global media and tens of thousands of paid people” during his speech Monday marking the anniversary of the 1956 uprising against Soviet forces. He said this financial speculators’ empire controls Brussels and some EU countries. According to Orbán, the forces of globalization are trying to turn Hungarians into “homo-Brusselicus” and Central Europe is now the only remaining “migrant-free zone.”


UK PUSH TO SHAPE BARNIER’S MANDATE FOR BREXIT TRADE TALKS: The U.K. will embark on a flurry of diplomatic activity in the two months before December’s European Council meeting, in a bid to influence Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate for phase two of the Brexit talks, reports Charlie Cooper.

BARNIER TO STEP DOWN AFTER BREXIT DAY: Barnier revealed Monday he will step down soon after Brexit Day in March 2019. “After that, I will see where I can still make myself useful in the EU,” Barnier said of his next move. He also said work on the EU’s Brexit treaty has already begun. The Telegraph has the story.

THE WAR ON BAD BREXIT METAPHORS: Some liken Brexit to the Hunger Games, others to chocolate, football matches or a cup of tea. POLITICO’s Paul Dallison gives bad metaphors one final airing, in the hope of killing them off for good.


RUSSIA — BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY: Against the odds and without warning, the Bolsheviks seized power 100 years ago this week in Russia, eventually creating the Soviet Union, birthing the particular brand of evil known as Stalinism, and then extending their rule to Central and Eastern Europe. Here’s how European media is covering the anniversary, with thanks to Eurotopics.

Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore: “It was a cult of reason and madness at the same time.”

Bulgaria’s 24 Chasa published claims the revolution was simply a clever conspiracy by the Tsarist military to retain power.

The UK’s Guardian: “Lenin accepted the formal independence of Ukraine … There can be no lasting peace in the region until that occurs.”

RUSSIA — JOURNALIST STABBED IN MOSCOW: Tatiana Felgenhauer, a presenter with the Ekho Moskvy radio station, is in critical condition after a man broke into the station’s office and stabbed her in the neck. The man was detained. More from BuzzFeed.

MOLDOVA — GOVERNMENT PUSHES RUSSIA TO REMOVE TROOPS IN DISPUTED REGION: By the end of the month, the U.N. is expected to discuss a request by the Moldovan government for Russia to withdraw its troops from the disputed territory of Transnistria, Balkan Insight reports.

COLOMBIAN COFFEE TIP: Colombians have for years grown amazing coffee. Finally, they’re drinking it, writes the Washington Post.


‘CRAZY KILLER’ MYSTERY LATEST: “A mystery that has troubled Belgium for over 30 years may be solved after a deathbed confession by a former policeman that he was one of the ‘Crazy Brabant Killers,’ who left 28 people dead in a bizarre string of robberies in the early 1980s,” reports Reuters.