25-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 25-08-2017


Friday, August 25, 2017

As uni exam scores are released, minister slammed for pledges of change

As thousands of high school graduates on Thursday rushed to see whether they had made the grade for their college or university of choice, Education Minister Costas Gavroglou came under fire from the opposition for announcing plans for changes to the admissions system.


Political uncertainty propagating crisis, study finds

Political uncertainty and what appears to be the perennial confrontation between Athens and the country’s international creditors are the main reasons Greece has been unable to exit its protracted financial crisis, according to a study published by Eurobank.


Appellate level prosecutor recommends indictment against former Siemens Hellas chief; another 2 German executives on bribery charges

An appellate level prosecutor in Athens has recommended an indictment against former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos on charges of bribery related to a massive contract for the ill-fated C4I system. The latter was scheduled to be installed and activated during the 2004 Olympics Games, but never came on line.


 Train derails in central Greece, no injuries

Services were temporarily suspended on part of the Thessaloniki-Athens rail network after a train derailed near Larissa, in central Greece, around 8.30 a.m. on Thursday.


Swiss woman stopped by Greek authorities in 2015 indicted for ‘jihadi traveling’

Switzerland’s attorney general has indicted a Swiss woman suspected of trying to reach Syria to join the Islamic State group with her four-year-old child in tow. Greek authorities prevented her from continuing the journey and handed her over to Swiss authorities in January last year.


Shortfall in tax revenue targets for Jan-Jul period reported by Athens

A shortfall of 338 million euros in the target for revenues from individual tax returns was recorded in the first seven months of 2017, according to data supplied by Greece’s finance ministry.







KATHIMERINI: Back ‘n’ forth with the university entry exams system

TA NEA: The state exhausts the economy and society through excessive taxation but it does not pay its own debts

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Landing of investors to Athens alongside Macron

AVGI: Free web access for 72,000 university freshmen

RIZOSPASTIS: EU’s vile anti-communism  is never-ending

KONTRA NEWS: University entry exams are unjust and need to be eliminated

DIMOKRATIA: Decadence: Students enter universities even with a 2,9 out of 20 grade

NAFTEMPORIKI: Revenues on the razor’s edge


You couldn’t make-up it: French weekly Le Point reports image-conscious Emmanuel Macron’s make-up artists have sent bills worth €26,000 to the Elysée Palace. The Palace defended the expenses as “urgent.” There is an alternative to the high prices of course: Macron could always hire the cheaper posted workers from the EU’s eastern member countries he’s been railing against.

Speaking of posted workers … Macron started with tough love Thursday in the latest leg of his Eastern Europe tour, in Romania, telling his audience: “The Schengen area is not working well and, of course, we can’t be happy about it.” While Romanians, who have been waiting years to join the Schengen visa-free travel area, would be disappointed by that rhetoric, Macron promised to be a frequent visitor to Central and Eastern Europe in 2018 — a step up from the disdain shown by previous French administrations. The next platform for the relationship will be a Visegrád Four summit in late 2017.

Pole vault: Macron sees Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party government as a key foe in his program of rebuilding the EU, and has urged the bloc to impose sanctions on Poland. That move is isolating Warsaw, which is already losing a key internal ally as the U.K. heads towards the EU exit door, Jan Cienski reports. “Macron is cleverly playing off Central Europe to change the Posted Workers Directive,” said Marcin Zaborowski, from Visegrad Insight.

Poland fights back: While Polish officials told Playbook they remain open to a substantial revision of the Posted Workers Directive, Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski was combative Thursday. He told Radio Maryja the “French economy is not in the position to compete with many European economies, including the Polish economy … Instead of forcing the French economy to compete, President Macron has come up with the idea to limit our activities on the common market.”

LATEST EU CONFIDENTIAL EPISODE — WITH JOHN BRUTON: Andrew Gray interviews former Irish PM John Bruton on Brexit and POLITICO’s Brexit editor James Randerson brings us up to date on the flurry of Brexit position papers released by the U.K. government. You’ll also hear Playbook’s Harry Cooper and POLITICO tech reporter Joanna Plucinska pick over Donald Trump’s latest Scottish tax break. LISTEN HERE | Read POLITICO’s story about John Bruton’s comments.

ECB — DRAGHI ADDRESSES JACKSON HOLE CONFERENCE TODAY: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi could be the star turn at the world’s top central bankers’ conference in Wyoming today. Draghi’s impact will depend on how far he is willing to go in explaining the ECB’s plans for winding back its multi-trillion euro stimulus program.

COMMISSION — ROMANIA THE BIG WINNER FROM AUGUST FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENTS: The European commissioner from Romania, Corina Crețu, made her third big funding announcement to her home country in a week Thursday, and she’s been curiously quiet about the good news on her well-populated Twitter feed. More than €200 million has been allocated for “clean and rapid mobility” (a Transylvanian railway upgrade that will cut travel times in Romania’s largest region in half). The other funding was €34.2 million for a Bucharest metro line extension and €66.5 million for modernization of water systems. More info on the Commission’s Open Data platform.

COMMISSION SNUBBED AGAIN BY POLAND IN MIGRATION LEGAL TANGLE: Spokesman Alexander Winterstein said Thursday the Commission will not drop its infringement proceeding against Poland regarding refugees’ relocation — one of the many legal beefs between Brussels and Warsaw, along with judiciary reforms and a ban on logging a forest, despite Poland threatening counter-legal action at the European Court of Justice.

ICYMI — COMMISSIONER JULIAN KING RESPONDS TO BARCELONA, TURKU TERROR: Versions of this article were published Thursday in the U.K.’s Independent and France’s Le Figaro.

PARLIAMENT VERSUS THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Roger Bootle, an economist turned Brexit commentator, asserted Thursday in the Telegraph “the European Parliament is a weak institution with little democratic legitimacy and limited powers.” That prompted Parliament comms supremo Jaume Duch to fire back with this Twitter thread.

IT’S RAINING CRYPTO-CURRENCIES IN EUROPE: SolarCoin hopes to ride the bitcoin buzz and spur interest in renewable energy. It faces a math problem, however. The average individual home stands to make about €1 a year by signing up, writes Anca Gurzu.

THE EX-FILES — MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI PRE-ANNOUNCES UKRAINE RETURN: Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia and long-time friend and rival of Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, has announced in a statement sent to reporters he’ll return to Ukraine September 10, come hell or high water. Saakashvili, who had been appointed a regional governor of Ukraine, was thrown out of the country and stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship on Poroshenko’s orders.

DIGITAL POLITICS: The Indian Supreme Court has ruled Indians have a fundamental right to privacy. This echoes Europe’s lead, with POLITICO’s Mark Scott tweeting the ruling is the latest sign of ‘Europeanification‘ of the digital world. The privacy ruling is also set to have a huge impact on millions of LGBT Indians, with the ruling stating “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.”

SPAIN — THE MADRID-BARCELONA TRUCE IS OVER: After displaying unity in the aftermath of the twin terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the blame game between Madrid and Barcelona has resumed. Anti-Catalan independence press including El Mundo highlighted the revelation Catalan police dismissed Belgian authorities’ concerns over terror cell leader Abdelbaki Es Satty, who was in Belgium last year. “The Catalan government maintains its plan to hold the illegal referendum,” El País reported.


Great British bunk-off: As Britons enjoy their summer public holiday Monday, Brexit Secretary David Davis probably won’t be among them. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, wants Davis (not known for working overtime) back at the coal face on Monday. Most British and EU officials Playbook spoke to think negotiations will start Monday, though it is not a done deal. Should Davis keep grumbling at the Monday timeline, Barnier will no doubt be happy to point out he worked on Bastille Day to get the negotiations up and running.

Don’t count on talks moving to Phase 2: The U.K. has released a flurry of position papers in the past week, a move generally welcomed by the EU, although there is frustration the papers focus on the future EU-U.K. relationship rather than more immediate issues like the U.K.’s exit bill. The U.K. is “not clear, they have not enough details and are often far from reality,” a senior EU diplomat told POLITICO’s Giulia Paravicini.

Better prepared than the Scouts: The U.K. rejects charges of disorganization. “It’s complete nonsense that we’re unprepared,” insisted Playbook’s U.K. source.

But progress? ‘Absolutely not’: Despite all those preparations, an official familiar with the British negotiating position said, “This round is not going to be about ‘have we made sufficient progress?’ That’s absolutely not what this round is about. This is one for the pointy heads.”

Apples, pears and oranges: Playbook’s source said the EU’s wish for a single exit bill figure is “an odd concept,” while also claiming the U.K. would resist any attempt to “salami-slice us.” The source extended the (some would say confused) metaphor, saying the EU budget has many layers and “They’re apples, pears and oranges.” To that end the U.K.’s goal next week is for the EU to “understand where we’re coming from,” without the U.K. “producing any numbers” explaining where it wants to go.

Independent banking: The European Investment Bank has pulled back from funding long-term U.K. projects as the country heads toward the EU exit door, and British officials are not happy. “If somebody wants to play hardball on the EIB, they just need to be a little bit careful,” said Playbook’s source, pointing out the U.K. is one of the largest shareholders in the bank.

Brussels summer survival guide for Brexit negotiators: As U.K. officials land in sleepy summertime Brussels, POLITICO tour guides Laura Greenhalgh and Paul Dallison are here to help.

NET MIGRATION TO BRITAIN HITS 3-YEAR LOW: An exodus of EU citizens after the Brexit referendum has brought net arrivals down by 25 percent.

US — TROUBLES AFOOT ON EU-US SANCTIONS CO-OPERATION? Bryan R. Early and Keith Preble for the Washington Post say there are problems on the horizon.