25-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

25-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tsipras on fYRoM issue: Reiterates govt’s position for composite name for use in all instances

A closely watched meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his counterpart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Zoran Zaev, on Wednesday served as the pinnacle of resumed efforts this month to solve the thorny ‘name issue’.


ND chief slams gov’t over handling of FYROM name talks

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday slammed the leftist-led administration over its handling of name talks with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying that it entered negotiations without “forming a unified government position.”


High-ranking IMF economist: Measures to render Greek debt sustainable still pending

High-ranking IMF economist Maurice Obstfeld on Wednesday was quoted by the German daily “Die Zeit” as saying that the Fund’s standing condition for more debt relief to render Greece’s debt load sustainable has still not been fulfilled.


Police intensify objections to foreclosures duty

In a letter to Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, the union of Hellenic Police officers (POASY) on Wednesday underlined its opposition to a government decision to boost security for notarial firms involved in controversial property foreclosures.


Seven-year bond issue is on the way

The Finance Ministry is preparing to issue a new bond in the next few days, in light of advice from the European Commission that the planned “cash buffer” to be padded out ahead of the conclusion of the bailout program may require some support.


IOBE sees growth at just 2.1 percent this year

The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) has undercut the government’s growth forecast for this year and warns that the country risks slipping back into a financial crisis if the reform effort is abandoned and the production model is not changed.


ATHEX: Benchmark soars higher on PPC jump

Shares in Public Power Corporation soared 15.69 percent on Wednesday, and along with ADMIE Holdings’ 5.09 percent rise powered the benchmark of the Greek bourse to another day of significant gains, with daily turnover remaining above the 100-million-euro mark. This time banks were mere also-rans in a session dominated by energy stocks.







KATHIMERINI: Tsipras-Zaev enter deep waters

ETHNOS: Greece and FYROM are ready to cut the Gordian Knot

TA NEA: The Greek government is handing out too much and getting too little in the negotiations with Skopje

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Athens-Skopje: Towards a solution through good will gestures

AVGI: The denouncement of irredentism “unlocks” the solution of the name dispute between Athens and Skopje

RIZOSPASTIS: The Greek government holds the banner of EU-NATO plans for the Balkans

KONTRA NEWS: Greek PM had the courage to place the solution of the dispute with Skopje in orbit

TO PONTIKI: Solution for all open issues or else Skopje will say goodbye to the EU and NATO

DIMOKRATIA: Cyprus President Anastasiadis is a full-on traitor. He stated that Skopje may take on the name “Northern Greece” if they want

NAFTEMPORIKI: Double pressure by Draghi on the NPLs issue

BROMANCE, PART DEUX: Just in case anyone thought U.S. President Donald Trump had no European friends waiting from him in Davos, the White House made a pre-boarding announcement Wednesday ahead of Air Force One’s departure for Switzerland: French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, will visit Washington for the first official state dinner of Trump’s presidency — date TBD. It’s a follow-up to Trump’s visit to Paris last July for Bastille Day festivities and dinner at Le Jules Verne, the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower run by the celebrated chef Alain Ducasse.

MERCRON DOES DAVOS: Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were on stage at the World Economic Forum with a souped-up pro-European message, POLITICO’s Florian Eder reports. Merkel also issued a broader warning against neo-nationalist isolationism. “Since the Roman Empire and the Chinese Wall, we know that simple isolation does not help in securing borders and a good cooperation with neighbors is needed,” she said.

VESTAGER’S THRILLS: In case the titans of Silicon Valley were wondering if the EU’s competition czar secretly gets a real kick out of kicking their butts, the answer, in Margrethe Vestager’s own words is: yes!

In response to a question from Finnish journalist Pekka Mykkänen, the steely competition commissioner explained why she enjoys her job so much she would like a second term. “I always try and put a lid on my enthusiasm so you don’t see how much fun I think it is … It is truly a privilege to be able to work on such a variety of cases.” Watch Vestager’s answer here.


EU ASYLUM AGENCY CHIEF UNDER SCRUTINY: The executive director of the EU asylum agency, José Carreira, is under investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, for alleged misconduct in procurement procedures, irregularities in management of human resources and possible breaches of data protection at the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office, according to an exclusive report by POLITICO’s Jacopo Barigazzi. As the EU wrestled with a migration crisis, the asylum agency’s budget grew to €53 million from €16 million between 2015 and 2016.

“In keeping with its policy of full transparency, EASO cooperated fully with the OLAF team, offering any assistance it could provide,” a spokesperson for EASO said. “OLAF visits to EU agencies, institutions and entities are a normal practice of good governance aimed at safeguarding the public interest and public funds. It should be emphasized that such a visit does not necessarily imply any malpractice … For obvious reasons, EASO cannot comment on the individual case.”

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TIMMERMANIA: Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, by many accounts, is the EU’s most eloquent spokesman — a passionate defender of its liberal democratic ideals against a barrage of nationalist and populist threats. But the hype that surrounded the former Dutch foreign minister in the early days of the Juncker Commission has evaporated. And back home in the Netherlands support for his center-left Labour Party has collapsed. Here’s my in-depth take on the cover of this week’s POLITICO print edition.

MADRID BARS PUIGDEMONT FROM REGIONAL OFFICE: Catalonia’s fugitive pro-independence president-in-exile Carles Puigdemont and the regional parliament’s new president, Roger Torrent, were blocked by the Spanish government from using Catalonia’s representative office in central Brussels for talks on Wednesday.

With Catalonia under direct rule from Madrid until a new government is formed, Torrent told POLITICO he was notified by the Spanish foreign ministry just ahead of their meeting that Puigdemont would not be admitted to the premises. Instead, Puigdemont, his fellow exiled Catalan lawmakers and Torrent were given space at the like-minded Centre Maurits Coppieters. Torrent’s tricky task is to hold a parliamentary vote by the end of this month on Puigdemont’s investiture for another term as president. However, Puigdemont risks arrest if he returns home for the vote and Madrid has scoffed at the suggestion that he could attend by video link.


THE BEER IS BETTER, TOO: Davos may get all the glamour and attention, but far more serious global discussions happen at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, according to POLITICO’s Matthew Karnitschnig.

LEARNING TO LIVE WITH TRUMP: Donald Trump touches down in Davos Thursday and will be greeted politely by global elites “who commonly regard him as a buffoon,” write John F. Harris and Matthew Kaminski from Davos. “What has come as a surprise to many of those people is how much they are learning to live with — and in some cases even enjoy — the Buffoon Presidency.”

“Aside from Trump’s incendiary bluster, many say, the actual consequences of his presidency have been more agreeable (or less disagreeable) than they feared a year ago. This is especially true in business circles, where people note that both the U.S and European economies are purring nicely.”

BREXIT QUESTIONS TRAIL THERESA MAY: For weeks, officials in Brussels and across the EU27 have implored U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to offer greater clarity about exactly how Britain envisions its post-Brexit relationship. Those queries have now followed May to Davos, where the world’s economic elite are similarly eager to know where this is all headed, POLITICO’s Ryan Heath reports.


BILLION EURO FINE FOR QUALCOMM: Adding to her takedowns of Big Tech, Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s commissioner for competition, slapped Qualcomm, one of the world’s largest chipmakers, with a fine of €997 million on Wednesday for abusing a dominant position to ensure it would be the exclusive supplier of key chips for Apple smartphones and tablets. Qualcomm says it will appeal the decision.


COMMISSION — JUNCKER, TIMMERMANS CONCERNED ABOUT ROMANIA LAW: Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice President Frans Timmermans asked the Romanian parliament to rethink changes to laws governing the judiciary, urging it to “open up the debate in line with the Commission’s recommendations and to build a broad consensus on the way forward.”

COMMISSION — JOUROVÁ TO LINK EU FUNDS TO RESPECT FOR RULE OF LAW: Věra Jourová, the European commissioner for justice, confirmed that she wants to link the receipt of EU funds — and not just cohesion funds as previously suggested — with respect for the rule of law. “It is logical that if we use the money collected from European taxpayers, there must be a guarantee that we have independent justice and the rule of law,” she told reporters Wednesday.

COMMISSION — RECORD EU ENERGY INVESTMENT TO BE ANNOUNCED: Commissioner for Energy Miguel Arias Cañete will today announce a record grant of €578 million for the construction of a new 370-kilometer electricity cable linking Spanish and French energy markets across the Bay of Biscay, nearly doubling the interconnection capacity between the two countries. “Only a fully interconnected market will improve Europe’s security of supply, ending the dependence of single suppliers and give consumers more choice,” he said.

COUNCIL — HOME AFFAIRS MINISTERS MEET IN SOFIA: Home affairs ministers meeting in Bulgaria will discuss attempts to reform the Common European Asylum System and measures to toughen border security. They’ll also have lunch with Volker Türk, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

PARLIAMENT — JEŽEK ENDS COOPERATION WITH BABIŠ’ ANO: Liberal MEP Petr Ježek has terminated his relationship with ANO2011 over concerns that its leader, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, is too closely aligned with the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party and the Communists, as well as his support for Miloš Zeman in this weekend’s presidential election. “ANO is a different movement now and it plays a different role than before,” he said in the letter. MEPs Martina Dlabajová and Dita Charanzová have said they aren’t planning to quit the party, although neither back Zeman.


Malta rule of law: MEPs will discuss the findings of a visit to Malta to investigate the rule of law that took place not long after the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Medicines agency location: MEP Giovanni La Via will present his report on the location of the seat of the European Medicines Agency.

MEPs back Microsoft in US: MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht will discuss the amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Microsoft in a privacy case.


ITALY — 5STARS CONTEMPLATE PACT WITH NORTHERN LEAGUE: In what could be Europe’s worst nightmare scenario out of the upcoming Italian elections, the anti-establishment 5Star Movement has raised the possibility of forming an alliance with the far-right Northern League.

BELGIUM — SOCIAL SECURITY OR OPEN BORDERS? Bart De Wever, the leader of  New Flemish Alliance, criticized the left for using “a subtle form of moral blackmail” to promote a migration policy that would lead to “the total degradation of the welfare state.”

GERMANY — GOVERNMENT UNDER PRESSURE OVER TURKEY ARMS EXPORTS: A number of German politicians are calling on the government to cease arms exports to Turkey, following reports that Turkish forces used German-made tanks in an offensive against Kurdish groups in Afrin. The pressure comes as Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and High Representative Federica Mogherini today meet Ömer Çelik, Turkey’s minister for European Union affairs.

BULGARIA — SOCIALISTS WANT REFERENDUM ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS CONVENTION: Kornelia Ninova, leader of the Socialist Party, has demanded a referendum take place on whether or not to ratify a convention preventing violence against women. “We think that the one who has to decide on this issue is the Bulgarian people,” she said Wednesday.

POLAND — JUDICIARY NEEDS REFORM, SAYS PM: In an interview with Bloomberg, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki justified controversial reforms to Poland’s judiciary by arguing they would make it “more objective, more effective and more transparent.”


DAUL PREDICTS NEW REFERENDUM: At a celebration of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Wilfried Martens Centre, the think-tank affiliated with European People’s Party, the center-right family that dominates EU politics, party leader Joseph Daul on Wednesday predicted the U.K. would hold a second referendum.

MICHAEL GOVE’S GREEN BREXIT: “Brexit is a potentially exciting moment, a chance for a fresh approach and to grasp new opportunities,” writes the U.K.’s environment secretary in an op-ed for POLITICO. “Nowhere is this truer than the environment.”

FT WANTS A PLAN FOR UK FINANCIAL INDUSTRY: In an editorial, the Financial Times urged the British government to develop a clear plan to keep London’s lucrative financial services industry in business in the EU after Brexit, and to remain flexible even on the idea of paying Brussels for access. The newspaper asserted that the EU should be happy to relinquish some regulatory authority, which prompted a perplexed and dismissive response from Stefaan De Rynck, a top aide to EU negotiator Michel Barnier, who said the FT proposal amounted to cherry-picking.

NO DANEGELD: During a debate in Westminster, David Davis, the U.K.’s Brexit secretary, said it wouldn’t be wise to pay a fee to the EU in order to gain single market access for certain sectors, suggesting it would be like paying “Danegeld.”


TURKEY — NATO ACKNOWLEDGES TERROR THREAT: “Turkey has really suffered from terrorism in recent years and has a very serious problem. It is among the NATO allies that suffer the most attacks in recent years and we do recognize that fully,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller after talks with the Turkish government earlier this week.

RUSSIA — CINEMAS SHOW STALIN FILM DESPITE BACKLASH: Cinemas across Moscow are selling tickets to the controversial U.K. film “The Death of Stalin,” despite the government banning it. “We do not have censorship … There is a moral boundary between the critical analysis of history and mockery of it,” said Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s culture minister.