27-02-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

27-02-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou resigns

Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou has resigned hours after his wife, Alternate Minister for Social Solidarity Rania Antonopoulou, stepped down on Monday afternoon following revelations that she received 23,000 euros in state rent subsidies for an apartment in the chic Athens neighborhood of Kolonaki.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/226213/article/ekathimerini/news/economy-minister-dimitris-papadimitriou-resigns

New Poll shows ND holding lead over SYRIZA

New Democracy has a 4.9 percent lead over ruling SYRIZA according to a poll gauging voter intentions if national elections were to be held today.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/226201/article/ekathimerini/news/polls-shows-nd-holding-lead-over-syriza

FYROM PM rejects constitutional revision to remove irredentist elements

In the last in a series of hardline statements, Zoran Zaev, the prime minister of the Former Republic of Macedonia, said in an interview that there is no need to revise his country’s constitution, as Athens demands, in order to removed irredentist references.

http://news.in.gr/english/article/?aid=1500201933

US ambassador on Novartis: There is no FBI investigation into Greek politicians

Pyatt reportedly indicated that reports according to which Greek politicians were named by the FBI were false.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/226184/article/ekathimerini/news/us-ambassador-on-novartis-there-is-no-fbi-investigation-into-greek-politicians

Grenade lobbed near east Athens police station on Mon.

Unknown assailants made a half-hearted attempt to attack an east Athens area police precinct (Kesariani district) on Monday morning, lobbing a hand grenade some 30 meters away but injuring a passing cab driver in the process.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1324378/grenade-lobbed-near-east-athens-police-station-on-mon

Neo-Nazis Attack Greek Anti-Fascist Center, Injure 5

Five people were injured, three hospitalized, when a gang of suspected neo-Nazis attacked an anti-fascist center in the Greek port of Piraeus.

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/02/26/neo-nazis-attack-greek-anti-fascist-center-injure-5/

ATHEX: Traders turn their backs on local stock market

Monday’s downbeat trade on the Greek stock market was marked by the lowest turnover in the last 29 sessions, with the majority of stocks posting losses and a day when most European bourses registered gains.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/226195/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-traders-turn-their-backs-on-local-stock-market

www.enikos.gr


www.protothema.gr

www.newsbomb.gr

www.cnn.gr

www.newsbeast.gr

KATHIMERINI: High cost resignation

ETHNOS: Series of attacks. The raid squads attack Democracy again

TA NEA: Minister of Finances Papadimitriou is also being pressured to resign

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: “You are going to die, we will burn you”. The Golden Dawn squad that attacked the ‘Favela’ squat wanted casualties

AVGI: Not everyone is the same. Political sensitivity has a name

RIZOSPASTIS: Communist party rally in Athens today: Call for action against the dangerous developments in our neighborhood

KONTRA NEWS: All files and money transfers of Novartis were handed to the FBI

DIMOKRATIA: Pensions of those insured with two social security funds will increase

NAFTEMPORIKI: The discussion on the framework to be applied after the expiration of the bailout program divides the government and the Bank of Greece

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

THE BEGINNING OF MERKEL’S END: Not just a German story, but a European one. POLITICO’s Matthew Karnitschnig on how Angela Merkel is no longer crushing her rivals, but inviting them into her Cabinet and offering them generous grand coalition terms instead. It’s both a shrewd move and an unmistakable sign that we are about the see the sun set on Merkel’s national political career.

COUNCIL — GENERAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL TODAY: Michel Barnier will update the EU27 on Brexit and Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans will brief all 28 EU members on discussions with Warsaw. While there is some dialogue now, it seems to be going nowhere fast. Ministers from Germany and France also plan to weigh in with their skeptical views. The real question: Is Warsaw winning? The new government hasn’t changed a thing about Poland’s judicial reforms, and the Commission hasn’t mobilized anything like a consensus among national governments in response. While Warsaw has toned down its language directed at Brussels, it has in parallel simply ramped up its other rhetoric (Warsaw’s defense of its new Holocaust law being the most memorable case).

Notable — absent foreign affairs ministers: As David Carretta from Radio Radicale noted, absent from Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council were the ministers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Portugal.

COUNCIL — TRADE MINISTERS MEET IN SOFIA: Bulgaria’s Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov, a member of the far-right United Patriots, today hosts EU ministers in Sofia. They will hear from Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström about the state of play in trade talks with Mexico and Mercosur.

COMMISSION — DIGITAL REVENUE TAX UNDER ACTIVE CONSIDERATION: Reuters reports that the European Commission is working on a draft digital tax framework resembling a French proposal floated in 2017 designed to make large digital firms pay more tax in Europe. In the case of online advertisers, the tax should be levied “where the advertisement is displayed,” while with online shopping, the tax would be collected in countries where the paying user is located. The levy would be calculated on the “aggregated gross revenues” of a business and should have a single EU rate “in the region of 1-5 percent” that could be deducted from national corporate taxes.

PARLIAMENT — GREENS DEMAND INVESTIGATION INTO MARTIN SELMAYR APPOINTMENT: Sven Giegold, a Green MEP and transparency proponent, said his group would ask the Parliament’s budgetary control committee to investigate “the cloak-and-dagger operation” that led to Martin Selmayr being appointed secretary-general of the Commission. “Avoiding open tenders favors those best known over the best capable,” he said in a statement, citing the “unacceptable” lack of notice European commissioners received regarding the appointment.

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT …

Farming: The agriculture committee meets at 3 p.m. to debate the impact of the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy on developing countries in Africa. African countries and critics of the CAP in Europe argue EU farm subsidies unfairly promote exports to African countries, and in return undermine their ability to develop domestic industries. The European Commission recently announced a “rural Africa task force” aimed at boosting EU agricultural investment in Africa.

Brexit: Guy Verhofstadt and Danuta Hübner will from 10:30 a.m. update MEPs on the constitutional affairs committee on negotiations.

Defense: A string of VIPs are appearing before the committee including Tone Skogen, Norway’s state secretary in the defense ministry, and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ivanna Klympush. EU Military Staff’s Director-General Esa Pulkkinen and the European Defense Agency’s Chief Executive Jorge Domecq will discuss the bloc’s defense cooperation.

DIGITAL POLITICS

THE INTERNET IS BROKEN — CAN THIS GROUP FIX IT? The internet isn’t like other governance challenges, and governments’ old hands-off approach is dying a quick death. From overt censorship to efforts by the EU to export its own regulations to the world, governments everywhere have moved into a pattern of interfering with the internet. POLITICO’s Mark Scott reports on the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network, which is trying to change the current splintering of the internet.

ITALIAN ELECTION COUNTDOWN

4 WAYS THE EU LETS ITALY GET AWAY WITH MURDER: POLITICO’s Giulia Paravicini writes about the pattern of Brussels dialling back political pressure on big EU countries when they get close to an election. The big freebies for Rome this year include public debt flexibility, delays to migration policy reform and a deferral of Italy’s referral to the European Court of Justice over unacceptably high air pollution.

EMMA BONINO, THE PHANTOM PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE: Emma Bonino, the left-wing former European commissioner and Italian foreign minister, is the woman of the hour in the Italian election, Jacopo Barigazzi tells Playbook. She’s the leader of a small pro-Europe party called “+Europa” and aligned with Matteo Renzi, and is mentioned across Italian media as a possible coalition partner to both Silvio Berlusconi and Renzi, Italian senate president or even prime minister. Bonino herself denied any aspiration to high office and at least some of her supporters suspect the rumors are intended to undermine her. Italians have ranked Bonino as their second-favorite leader, after Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Brussels calling: Bonino’s supporters feature names familiar to the Brussels EU bubble, including former Council official Alessandro Fusacchia, Bruges College of Europe visiting professor and former Open Society senior analyst Costanza Hermanin, and activist professor Alberto Alemanno.

EU NATIONAL NEWS

SLOVAKIA — INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST MURDERED: Twenty-seven-year-old Jána Kuciaka and his partner Martinu Kušnírovú were shot dead at home in a killing Slovak police suspect was motivated by his writing about alleged government corruption involving members of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party. Kuciaka had written extensively about the dealings of Ladislav Bašternák, a controversial businessman, and his relationship with Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák.

While Fico’s government offered €1 million for any relevant information on the killings, few local reporters have forgotten that the PM in 2016 referred to journalists as “dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes.” The killings come several months after the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and drew widespread condemnation from European political and journalism groups. Slovakia’s top editors published a statement in which they asked the government not just to find the killer/s but also to protect freedom of speech. Tom Nicholson writes for POLITICO that the murders exceed the worst treatment of journalists that occurred under Communist rule.

FRANCE — WATCH OUT FOR PROFESSIONAL TRAINING REFORMS THIS WEEK: POLITICO’s chief economics correspondent Pierre Briançon tells Playbook the French professional education system is “a €35-billion-a-year waste machine that can’t properly train workers for the jobs required by the economy.” After letting representatives from employer groups and unions attempt to draft a plan, Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud dismissed their ideas last week and said she would tell them this week how the reform should unfold.

HUNGARY — WHY FIDESZ LOST: Fidesz’s surprise loss of the mayoralty of the town of Hódmezővásárhely to a right-wing independent candidate can be traced back to higher turnout rather than a drop in Fidesz votes. In parallel, drone video footage circulating in the days leading up to the vote showed a new-build mansion linked to János Lázár, a minister in the Fidesz government. “The number of Fidesz supporters is more or less the same as it was in [the last mayoral election in] 2014,” a senior party official told Lili Bayer.”

UK — TERROR THREAT: Scotland Yard’s outgoing counter-terror chief Mark Rowley warned in a speech Monday night of the rising threat of far-right extremism in the U.K. and suggested extremists should have their children taken away from them for their own protection.

SWEDEN — PM’S CAR CRASHES IN SNOWFALL: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s car careened off the E4 autoroute north of Stockholm and into a guardrail during a blizzard Monday. No one was injured, officials said.

BREXIT 360°

Scoop — Liam Fox’s former top official shreds his argument for Global Britain trade agenda: Annabelle Dickson reports that Martin Donnelly, former permanent secretary at the Department for International Trade, will say on Wednesday that leaving the EU single market and trade deals is like “rejecting a three-course meal now in favor of the promise of a packet of crisps later.” Donnelly will claim there is “no evidence of untapped global markets waiting to welcome U.K. companies,” and the key trade deal for the U.K. to strike should be with the European Union — its largest market. The full write-up is available for POLITICO Brexit, Trade and Data and Digitization Pro subscribers.

How Jeremy Corbyn changed Britain’s Brexit landscape: The Labour leader has put May’s premiership in mortal danger and set the dividing Brexit line as a question between “Global Britain” and European Britain, write POLITICO’s Charlie Cooper and Tom McTague.

EU 101 — Bespoke is just another word for cherry-picking: Someone forgot to send Jeremy Corbyn the memo. Michel Barnier’s golden rule, indeed the EU Treaty’s golden rule: When it comes to legal frameworks, one size fits all. Yet Corbyn outlined Monday that his version of the U.K. staying in a customs union with the EU is Britain getting a bespoke customs union that maintains its current benefits but frees it from Brussels’ state-aid rules and allows it a say over EU trade deals. In a nutshell: That’s deluxe cherry-picking, and the EU isn’t going to buy it.

Touché: “If it looks like snake oil, and it smells like snake oil, don’t expect it to make you feel better,” Brexit Secretary of State David Davis on Jeremy Corbyn’s new customs union policy.

EU Ombudsman demands more transparency: Emily O’Reilly on Monday demanded the Commission publish more documents and information about the Brexit task force’s meetings with outside stakeholders.

Vodafone chief says company’s presence in UK hinges on ability to hire EU nationals: Mark Scott reports from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (link for POLITICO Brexit, Tech and Data and Digitization Pros).

Taoiseach and Theresa May speak about Brexit: Leo Varadkar’s office said he repeated the EU’s insistence that the detail of the backstop option of full regulatory alignment should be spelled out in the draft legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement.

TIMETABLE FOR BREXIT NEWS IN COMING WEEKS:

March 1 — Expected publication date for the draft text of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (consisting of about 150 articles divided into four chapters).

March 7 — First discussion on the draft guidelines for future relationship negotiations.

March 14 — Second discussion on the draft guidelines in Coreper meeting of EU27 ambassadors.

March 19 — Possible discussion between sherpas on the draft guidelines.

March 20 — Final discussion at the General Affairs Council (Article 50) on draft guidelines.

March 22-23 — Adoption of guidelines on the future relationship at European Council meeting.