26-07-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON GREECE | EU 26-07-2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Greek govt thoroughly pleased with Tues. bond issue results

Greek government sources on Tuesday referred to an “absolute success” and a confirmation of the positive course of the Greek economy, immediately after a five-year bond issue offering concluded with a yield of 4.625 percent.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1261597/greek-govt-thoroughly-pleased-with-tues-bond-issue-results

Delia Velculescu to “Ν”: Greek authorities still have a “full agenda” before them

Greece’s testing of the markets must adhere closely with the current program’s objectives and targets, as the Greek side still has a “full agenda” of reforms before it, IMF mission chief for Greece, Delia Velculescu, told “N” this week.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1261735/delia-velculescu-to-n-greek-authorities-still-have-a-full-agenda-before-them

Varoufakis accuses administration of copying its predecessors

Continuing the war of words with the government he used to serve, former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has hit out at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over his administration’s bond issue, accusing his former comrade of hypocrisy in adopting the very tactics of the predecessors that he had condemned.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220387/article/ekathimerini/news/varoufakis-accuses-administration-of-copying-its-predecessors

Attica museum and archaeolgical site staff to strike this weekend

Museums and archaeological sites in Attica may not open to the public this weekend as the Panhellenic Federation of Culture Ministry Employees has called a strike for July 29-30, generating a strong reaction by the tourism industry.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220394/article/ekathimerini/business/attica-museum-and-archaeolgical-site-staff-to-strike-this-weekend

Fraport promises extensive facelift for Rhodes airport

Fraport Greece chief Alexander Zinnel promised officials on Rhodes that the island’s Diagoras Airport will be upgraded to a level compatible with the Dodecanese capital’s prestigious status.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220391/article/ekathimerini/business/fraport-promises-extensive-facelift-for-rhodes-airport

SEV: Greek state lacks will to contain corruption

The state has shown a fragmentary approach and a lack of determination toward combating corruption in Greece, according to a report by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220372/article/ekathimerini/business/sev-greek-state-lacks-will-to-contain-corruption

Banks discern many benefits in Greece’s new bond issue

Greece’s return to the bond markets on Tuesday will have a particularly positive impact on the economy and the local credit system, according to senior bank officials.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220351/article/ekathimerini/business/banks-discern-many-benefits-in-greeces-new-bond-issue

ATHEX: Cool reaction to bond issue

Unfazed or perhaps distracted by the issue of the five-year sovereign bond, investors weren’t in much of a buying mood at the Greek stock market on Tuesday. The benchmark fell to its lowest point in the last 12 sessions on relatively increased trading volume.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220389/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-cool-reaction-to-bond-issue

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KATHIMERINI: Greece taps markets after three lost years

TA NEA: Markets are beating the drum and the government is dancing to their tune

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Greece keeps paddling and returns to the markets

AVGI: Exit of hope

RIZOSPASTIS: ‘Exit to the markets’: The price to be paid by the Greek people is the perpetuation and extension of anti-popular measures

KONTRA NEWS: Greece receives vote of confidence from international markets

DIMOKRATIA: Recently released from prison former PASOK minister Akis is being provocative

NAFTEMPORIKI: [Greece’s exit to the international bond markets marks a] First positive step

DEBATE — THE DISHONEST GERMANS: As Greece successfully re-enters bond markets, selling €3 billion of five-year bonds, POLITICO’s Europe-at-large editor Paul Taylor writes Europe’s Teutonic moralizers in Germany might want to look at what’s happening at home. While German ethics may be no worse than others, the country’s tendency to be self-righteous means it has set itself up for a fall.

“The country that loves to hector others on the evils of moral hazard, demand strict enforcement of EU fiscal rules and depict southern European states as endemically corrupt, is mired in a cesspit. Scandal has struck Germany’s vaunted automobile industry, its largest engineering giant and its biggest bank — and there’s more than a suspicion that Berlin long turned a blind eye.”

Playbook would add Germany is in demographic decline (deaths outnumber births, mitigated only by massive recent migration waves) and has rapidly depopulating eastern states that will create budget headaches soon. The country is also home not only to troubled Deutsche Bank but a conflict-plagued regional banking sector (known as Landesbanken), which emerged as a problem in 2007, well before Lehman Brothers collapsed in the U.S.

COMMISSION — JUNCKER PLANNING TO SLAM THE BRAKES ON CHINESE TAKEOVERS: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants a radical new rulebook to strengthen the EU’s hand against Chinese takeovers of its most strategic companies. According to five senior diplomats, the Commission is drafting a regulation to that effect, with details expected in Juncker’s state of the European Union speech September 13.

China’s buyouts of critical European infrastructure and high-tech businesses is one of the Continent’s most contentious political issues, particularly in France and Germany. In Berlin, the topic leaped to the top of the political agenda last year, when Midea, a Chinese manufacturer, bought the country’s prized robotics maker Kuka.

COMMISSION — LAST COLLEGE MEETING BEFORE SUMMER BREAK: The Commission’s First Vice President Frans Timmermans will address reporters after the meeting on Poland. Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for home affairs and migration, will present an update on the EU’s migration agenda and European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will speak on security efforts.

COMMISSION PREPARING POLAND INFRINGEMENT CASE AS PLAN B: The European Commission no longer trusts the Polish government and isn’t taking any chances in its showdown with Warsaw over the rule of law. Commissioners want to be ready to act quickly over the summer break if the government reverts to its previous track of attempting to gut the Polish judiciary, report Florian Eder and Maïa de la Baume.

In their Plan B, commissioners today are likely to grant powers to Frans Timmermans and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to launch an infringement case against Poland if it passes laws over the summer that do not address EU concerns about political influence on the courts, officials said.

Duda signed one of three judicial reform bills Tuesday: President Andrzej Duda signed on Tuesday morning the bill giving Poland’s justice minister power over local courts. He vetoed two other judiciary reforms.

Michał Broniatowski on the birth of a Polish president: Duda stood up to his party. That decision makes it harder for him to stand again in 2020 as a PiS presidential candidate, opening the possibility he will attempt to form a rival party.

COMMISSION — UPDATED MAJOR DECISIONS CALENDAR FOR REST OF 2017: Check it here.

EU-TURKEY POLITICAL DIALOGUE: The two parties are still miles apart on EU membership, reports Maïa de la Baume. Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn said Turkey could expect to receive the €3 billion promised to it under the EU-Turkey migration deal by the end of this year, but Turks won’t get visa-free access to the EU until the country reverses course and implements the final five benchmarks (of 72) required for that.

MIGRATION CORNER … 

ECJ — MIGRATION OPINION DUE TODAY: The EU’s advocate-general is expected this morning to release its opinion on whether the EU’s refugee relocation system complies with EU law. Slovakia and Hungary challenged the system in late 2015 after they lost the battle to cancel quotas designed to tackle the refugee crisis.

Commission reaction: Watch out also for not only a Commission reaction to the details of the ECJ news, but for it to press its view that relocation and resettlement are working and it’s not too late for Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to get with the program.

JUNCKER PROMISES MORE MIGRATION SUPPORT IN LETTER TO ITALIAN PM: Jean-Claude Juncker, in a letter dated Tuesday and seen by Playbook, outlined a series of measures the Commission is ready to take swiftly if the Italian government considers them useful in the coming weeks. These include the Commission creating a “permanent contact group” in Italy to ensure rapid operational responses, up to €100 million in additional funds, and deploying 500 EU agency personnel. Read the full letter here.

EU EXTENDS ANTI-TRAFFICKING NAVAL MISSION, OVERCOMING ITALIAN OBJECTIONS: The EU’s Operation Sophia, aimed at combating human and arms trafficking in the central Mediterranean, has been extended until the end of 2018, the Council of the EU announced Tuesday. The renewal was approved “unanimously,” after Italy initially threatened to block the extension.

BY THE NUMBERS: The latest report on the EU’s relocation and resettlement policy will be released today and according to Playbook’s Commission source will show more than 3,000 people relocated (mostly out of Greece and Italy) in June, bringing to 24,676 the number of people redistributed across the EU.

BREXIT CORNER … 

Brexit secretary does Bavaria: David Davis will meet Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer about a post-Brexit relationship.

British EU staff can stay, but not as ambassadors or trade officials, says Oettinger: Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for the budget and human resources, on Tuesday assured the more than 1,000 British staffers in the Commission he will not ask for their resignations after March 2019, but warned they may not be able to stay in their current roles. Quentin Ariès has the details. The Commission has already decided to remove British staffers from sensitive Brexit-related roles in its department in charge of financial services.

9 reasons why (some) Brits hate the EU’s highest court: Annabelle Dickson and Quentin Ariès on how the European Court of Justice became the focal point of anti-EU sentiment in Britain. Top takes: Ambitious and ideological ministers are often thwarted by ECJ rulings, which frequently cost governments large sums of money, judgments can be difficult to understand and seem biased. And then there’s the fact the court has “Europe” in its title.

MEPs remain vigilant: In line with the Commission’s approach, European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and other MEPs in Parliament’s Brexit steering group want progress on citizens’ rights and the financial settlement before post-exit relations are discussed.

Farage turns on May, hugs Corbyn: “The great Brexit betrayal has begun,” former UKIP chief Nigel Farage wrote Tuesday in a column in the Telegraph. “The Tories have sold out the British people — now even Jeremy Corbyn has a tougher stance.”

US — SANCTIONS BILL PASSES THE HOUSE: The U.S. House of Representative voted 419 to 3 in favor of a controversial bill that would hit Russia with additional sanctions and come with negative economic consequences for European energy companies. The proposed legislation has angered Brussels on the grounds it would put the U.S. out of step with the Western world’s overall approach to Moscow, but also because it could jeopardize several energy infrastructure projects important for Europe and its energy companies. The Senate is expected to soon follow suit and approve the bill, which includes sanctions on Iran and North Korea too, after which President Donald Trump would have to approve or veto it. The White House has not yet committed to signing it, despite its rhetorical support for the new sanctions.

SWEDEN — TRANSPORT SECURITY BREACH SCANDAL WORSENS: Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has said he was not aware of a major security breach caused by IT outsourcing until January 2017, even though his defense and interior ministers, Peter Hultqvist and Anders Ygeman, both from the same Social Democratic party as the prime minister, knew since the beginning of 2016. Watch Swedish MPs grill the ministers here.

ROMANIA — US PATRIOT MISSILES WON’T INCREASE TENSIONS WITH RUSSIA: The U.S. ambassador to Romania, Hans Klemm, told local media he didn’t expect the decision by the Romanian government to buy American Patriot missiles to upset Russia because they are “strictly defensive.” Details here.

BELGIUM — NEW REGIONAL GOVERNMENT AGREED: Both the liberals from Le Mouvement Réformateur and the center-right Centre des Démocrates Humanistes agreed Tuesday on a coalition for the Wallonia regional government, ejecting the Socialists and CETA-nemesis Paul Magnette. Details of the coalition agreement include new reforms on governance and conflicts of interests.

BULGARIA — PROGRESS ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE ANTI-CORRUPTION DEMANDS: The Bulgarian government has successfully implemented 12 of 19 recommendations targeting its judiciary, parliament and prosecutors, according to an evaluation report by the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption. Read it here.

UKRAINE — THE US ABOUT TO SEND WEAPONS? The new U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker told the BBC Washington is reviewing whether to send weapons to help those fighting against Russian-backed rebels. Volker said arming Ukrainian government forces could change Moscow’s approach.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA — AUTHORITIES FAIL TO SIGN NEW TRANSPORT TREATY: Hailed as a step towards bringing former Yugoslav countries together, a transport community treaty to back joint infrastructure projects with EU funds has been signed by all governments in the region except Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a result, European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc canceled her visit to the country and Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn sent a letter criticizing the government. More from Balkan Insight here.

LIBYA — MACRON BROUGHT RIVAL LEADERS TOGETHER: After a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and rival military leader Khalifa Haftar agreed to a ceasefire and to hold elections in the first half of next year. Reuters’ Marine Pennetier has more.

SUMMER READS — SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW: Le Monde spoke to old-timer French politicians and former heavyweights on the first months of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, his communication strategy, his relationship with power and how newly elected MPs are surviving.