25-05-2017 | EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 25-05-2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Greek govt scrambles to find ‘Plan B’ in the wake of latest failed Eurogroup meeting

The Tsipras government appeared surprised and unable to intervene in the contentious negotiations between Berlin and the IMF over the Greek debt issue, in the wake of a fruitless Eurogroup meeting on Monday. The negative result means that the latest “unofficial deadline” to conclude a second review of the bailout program and to resolve the other major differences over the Greek program (debt relief, fiscal targets after 2018) have been bumped to the next Eurogroup meeting on June 15.


Greece to sign three contracts for hydrocarbon extraction, PM says

The Greek government will on Thursday sign three contracts for hydrocarbon extraction, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said without giving more details.


Minister appeals to media watchdog over TV license tender

Greece’s Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas on Wednesday asked the National Council for Radio and Television to determine when it would resume the process of licensing TV channels in the wake of a government tender for licenses that was struck down by Greek courts.


Plan for Athens mosque on course despite objections

A parliamentary committee Wednesday approved legislation paving the way for the construction of the capital’s first state-backed mosque thanks to the votes of PASOK as leftist SYRIZA’s junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) opposed the motion.


Tax hikes have failed to pay off

The recent hikes in indirect taxes have not fetched the desired results, leading instead to a 247-million-euro shortfall in state revenues, according to figures issued on Wednesday by the State General Accounting Office.


National, Piraeus hit by review uncertainty in Q1

Uncertainty over the Greek bailout review took its toll on Piraeus Bank and National Bank of Greece (NBG) in the first quarter as the country’s two biggest lenders focused their efforts on cutting bad debts.


ATHEX: Bank stocks tumble on creditor plans

The plans of Greece’s creditors about retaining the International Monetary Fund as an observer but not a contributor of funds to the Greek bailout program, as reported in the press, sent Greek stocks tumbling on Wednesday. The drop was reinforced by the fresh hike in sovereign bond yields.







KATHIMERINI: Compromise signal by PM Tsipras

ETHNOS: Council of State issues ultimatum regarding forest maps

TA NEA: Resistance lasted only one day


AVGI: Former Health Minister Georgiadis had asked the administrative board of Dunant hospital to resign at the request of banker Sallas

RIZOSPASTIS: Dangerous plans by NATO with deeper involvement of Greece

KONTRA NEWS: Alexis, don’t back down! Rupture with Schaeuble and elections!

TO PONTIKI: Everything in installments

DIMOKRATIA: Land property issue emerges after Council of State challenges changes in land use

NAFTEMPORIKI: Three scenarios for the debt

IMERISIA: Taxes negatively affect state revenues

It’s a holiday today in Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Norway and Luxembourg.

SPOTTED: European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič in a hot air balloon over Vilnius. He was inspecting the Astravets nuclear plant — widely considered unsafe — which is nearby along the border with Russia.

TWO PRESIDENTS, ONE CHANCELLOR: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the meat in a presidential PR sandwich today. As you read this, former U.S. President Barack Obama is breakfasting with Merkel in Berlin. He will then participate in the Obama Foundation’s first international event: a conversation with the chancellor at the Brandenburg Gate focusing on the importance of civic engagement. Merkel then flies to Brussels for the NATO summit with the current U.S. president, Donald Trump.


While pundits have generally responded to Trump’s Middle East trip with favorable reviews, POLITICO’s Annie Karni explains the reason things went so smoothly is largely because of extensive planning by Dina Powell, H.R. McMaster and Jared Kushner. They aren’t in charge of things on the EU, NATO and G7 end, so don’t expect the same discipline from Trump in Brussels.

Catch Playbook’s video chat with Tara Palmeri and Harry Cooper about all aspects of the Trump visit.

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HE’S HOT AND HE’S COLD, HE’S YES AND HE’S NO, HE’S IN AND HE’S OUT … In essence, European leaders don’t know what to expect from Trump this morning. But odds are they’ll be fine: EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has said she has seen it all after 35 years as a national and European leader, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has done it all, and European Council President Donald Tusk has actually run something big (Poland). They also have previous meetings with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other cabinet members to build on.

What the EU will raise: The importance of keeping trade open and climate action.

Things about the EU Trump may like: Commission VP Frans Timmermans’ regulation bonfire; Juncker’s leveraged finance fetish; wine geographic indicators (just imagine a Trump Wine label of origin); migrant camps in Africa instead of Europe; Slovenia.

Things to gloss over: Brexit; Hungary’s border wall; subsidized wind farms near Trump’s Scottish golf courses; the free pass the Commission gives to Germany on economic rules.

Ted Malloch is not a candidate for U.S. ambassador to EU, writes the Wall Street Journal.


NATO wants you to call its catch-up today a meeting not a summit, and that’s the alliance’s prerogative. The reality is, however, that when 28 national leaders get together for any reason other than a funeral or inauguration, the world calls it a summit.

Plans for the day include a fly-over. Also, Merkel will dedicate a Berlin Wall memorial and Trump will unveil the 9/11 and Article 5 memorial (a twisted remnant from the 107th floor of World Trade Center One). See the full program.

The big question: Which country will be smart enough to bring a national defense spending increase blueprint? That’s what the Trump administration wants to see. So what better way to score points than to beat the end-2017 deadline for submitting the plans to NATO.

What they’ll talk about: Increasing defense spending and doing more to fight terrorism. Russia won’t be far from leaders’ minds.

Concrete outcome expected: NATO formally joining the global anti-ISIS coalition.

Who will sit where at dinner? Typically, seating is alphabetical. If that format is followed, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will at least be able to pass notes under the table to each other if things get weird.

Theresa May to meet Trump as UK blames US for Manchester attacks intelligence leaks: The last time they met, May and Trump seemed to hit it off. This time it’s a little more complicated. The British PM, her officials and ministers are furious at U.S. intelligence officials over leaking of operational intelligence from the police investigation into the suicide bomb attack in Manchester on Monday — the name of the attacker and photographs reported to be images of the crime scene taken by British investigators were published Wednesday. But the PM also needs to use her second meeting with Trump to wrest assurances on Russia and NATO. Tom McTague breaks it down.

The French moment: With May occupied by the immediate demands of re-election and the Manchester bombing and Merkel in election mode and living with strained Trump relations, Europe’s new golden boy Macron has a chance to seize a French moment to shine. Now that France is on board with NATO joining the anti-ISIS coalition, the moment is within reach.

NATO member cheer Trump’s draft budget: It’s controversial at home but reassuring for European capitals, reports David Herszenhorn. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed Trump’s plan to expand, with $4.8 billion, the European Reassurance Initiative, a military fund to counter Russian aggression.

EU-NATO thought bubble: Under Mogherini’s direction, the EU has been muscling into defense action. The funding aspect of that has been limited to research. But what if the EU extended its new love affair with leveraged finance (via the European Fund for Strategic Investments) into a European fund for defense investments, to help member countries reach their defense spending targets.

The Trump attention span risk: “These events go on and on and on … So there is some anxiety about his ability to sit and hear everybody out — that’s the way it works at NATO, everybody gets their bite at the apple. But it’s very tedious and it’s very long … And I think that’s an issue for this president,” said Julie Smith, former director for European and NATO policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

NATO’s new headquarters — a wildcard: Belgium will formally hand a new 250,000 square meter building over to NATO in the presence of the Belgian king. Given Trump thinks NATO members are underspending and leaving the U.S. to pick up the tab, he may have questions about the alliance’s shiny new headquarters. For example, if NATO members can invest in headquarters, why not invest in their collective defense?

The new HQ is rich with symbolism, explains NATO’s Dylan White. The site is Belgium’s first ever airfield, dating back to 1908, and was occupied during both world wars. In fact, construction workers uncovered four unexploded bombs on the site. The building is designed to look like interlocking fingers, representing NATO’s unity. It will accommodate 4,700 civilian and military staff, and use 30 percent less energy than NATO’s current HQ.

Former US ambassador to NATO weighs in: Douglas Lute says NATO members need to hear from Trump not about Russia or hardware, but about his commitment to NATO values. “Troops, tanks, ships, and planes are not the core of NATO’s strength. At the core of the strongest, most durable, most successful alliance in history are its common values — democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law.”

Memo to world — other big leaders are also here: For example, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will enjoy his time at the fanciest hotel in the city — the Steigenberger — free from protests, after the Brussels mayor and police banned them. “We noticed that the Turkish protests became violent lately,” noted Mayor Yvan Mayeur drily. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, usually fawned over, arrived without fanfare Wednesday night.

A TRUMP SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE BRUSSELS HELLHOLE: Craig Winneker keeps it short, sharp and all about the president, just as he likes it.


Trump is now ‘enthusiastic’ about Belgium, and tweeted his thanks to locals. That didn’t stop Het Laatste Nieuws, a local Flemish-language newspaper, launching “We love our hellhole,” a photo series of famous Belgians defending their home turf from Trump’s previous insult.

The US president arrived in Belgium without much positive interest. No one lined the motorcade route, American flags were not to be seen aside from on official flagpoles. None of that got in the way of the good optics at the Belgian Royal Palace, of course.

Postcard from the #TrumpNotWelcome march: Meanwhile protestors — 9,000 of them, according to police estimates — far outweighed Trump supporters (Playbook found only two) on the afternoon of Trump’s arrival. The crowd, at least one kilometer long while on the move, took 20 minutes to pass Playbook’s apartment around 7 p.m: Video here. Activists scaled the Brussels stock exchange to unfurl a banner reading “Make Peace Great Again.” Playbook reader Alison Abrahams spotted a very Belgian protest placardPeter Baugh has this dispatch from the protest.

TRUMP MEETS POPE: “I won’t forget what you said,” the president said at the end of the 30-minute audience in the Vatican with Pope Francis, who left him with homework.

Ian Bremmer captures the difference between Trump and Obama Pope visits. Also noticeable: devout Catholic Sean Spicer cut out of the audience with the Pope.


TRUMP HOLDS UP THE PLANNING: Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip presidency is wreaking havoc with the G7’s preparations for what would normally have been a well-scripted summit this week, with his refusal to endorse his allies’ positions on issues like trade and climate change creating headaches for the summit’s Italian organizers.

THE VIRGIN G7 SUMMIT — THE WORLD’S GROWN-UPS ARE NEWBIES: From Trump to May, Macron to Paolo Gentiloni, more than half of G7 leaders have never participated in such a summit. Trudeau has attended only once. That leaves the pack under the careful eye of Angela Merkel (her 12th time at the G7 rodeo) and Shinzō Abe. Summit details here.

FRANCE — MARINE LE PEN’S LONG COME DOWN: After losing the presidential vote, the “exhausted” and “drained” far-right leader only reluctantly signed up for parliamentary elections, reports Nicholas Vinocur. At stake if she didn’t run: her political future. “Le Pen’s participated in six election campaigns in as many years, three of which she had lost personally. The constant traveling, defeats and internal feuds over strategy were taking a toll. Yet Le Pen faced internal pressure from senior aides who made her understand that if she did not go into battle, candidates for parliamentary seats and rank-and-file activists could lose the faith.”

FRANCE — LE PEN DIDN’T HAVE MACRON’S NUMBER: The loser of an election is supposed to call and congratulate the winner. But on the night of France’s presidential runoff, no one at National Front headquarters in Paris had Macron’s number, Nicholas Vinocur reports.

FRANCE — EN MARCHE SEES POLL BOOST: Macron’s party would win 31 percent of vote in the first round of parliamentary elections on June 11, up from 22 percent the last time the poll was conducted at the beginning of May.

UK — PRECEDENTS ON ECJ JURISDICTION POST-BREXIT: Matthew Holehouse takes a tour of the relevant cases.

POLAND — FUNDING THREATS ARE ‘EUROPEAN POPULISM’: Poland’s Europe minister said threats to cut EU funds to the country as punishment for refusing to take in refugees are “European populism.” A new poll found 38 percent of Poles would rather take the financial hit than accept refugees.

E-STONIA — TEST-DRIVING THE ULTIMATE DIGITAL SOCIETY: Playbook — an e-resident of Estonia — put the Baltic nation’s digital innovation to the test, then compared notes with the country’s chief information officer.

FINLAND — RIGHT-WING MEP SET TO BECOME FINNS LEADER: Jussi Halla-aho, an MEP in the European Conservatives and Reformists group and frontrunner to become leader of his party, wants tougher immigration controls and, eventually, for Finland to leave the EU. He acknowledged that if a referendum were held today, Finns would vote to remain.

HUNGARY — VOTE ON NGO FUNDING LAW POSTPONED: The vote on a draft law that would force NGOs that receive a significant amount of their funding from abroad to register with the government has been delayed until June.

CZECH REPUBLIC — FINANCE MINISTER FIRED, ENDING CRISIS: Czech President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday fired his controversial finance minister, Andrej Babiš, putting an end to a government crisis that threatened to shatter the ruling coalition government just months before a scheduled legislative election.

Euro unpopular: Only 21 percent of Czech citizens favor joining the eurozone, according to a survey released Wednesday.


AWARDED: The Charlemagne prize, awarded annually to a prominent advocate of European integration, will be presented in Aachen today to British historian Timothy Garton Ash.


EUROSTAR UPGRADE: From Sunday, Eurostar will be running new trains, in use on its Paris line since 2015, on its London to Brussels line. A new direct service from London to Amsterdam will also launch in the coming months.