27-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

27-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, October 27, 2017

ESM releases 800 mln€ sub-tranche to Greece after creditors’ assessment

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) on Thursday announced that its board of directors had authorized the release of an 800-billion-euro sub-tranche of bailout money to Greece “for the clearance of arrears”, as it characteristically noted.


Government appears upbeat on progress of bailout review

Government officials were upbeat on Thursday about the progress of negotiations with foreign bailout monitors, noting that any issues that have arisen have been effectively tackled by technical teams without the need to seek a political solution as has been the case in the past.


Erdogan to visit Greece in late November or early December

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Greece in late November or early  December, according to Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.


Political reaction after precinct, hospital surgeon and even butcher shop targeted by self-styled anarchists

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday said his party will table a question in Parliament towards Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras himself demanding answers over a recent spate of urban lawlessness in the greater Athens area.


ECB lowers ELA ceiling for Greek banks

The Bank of Greece (BoG) on Thursday announced that the European Central Bank’s governing council did not object to an ELA-ceiling for Greek banks set at 28.6 billion euros, up to and including Wednesday Nov. 8, following a request by the former.


Attica Group, Grimaldi Group annnounce deal for Hellenic Seaways

Attica Group and Grimaldi Group on Thursday announced an agreement allowing for the former to purchase the 48.53-percent stake owned by Minoan Lines – a subsidiary of Grimaldi – in Hellenic Seaways, a ferry boat operator connecting numerous Greek isles with the mainland.


Eurobank completes successful covered bond issue

The issue of Eurobank’s covered bonds was completed successfully on Wednesday, marking the Greek lender’s return to international markets for the first time since 2014.


ATHEX: Slight increase for benchmark

The early gains seen during on Thursday’s bourse session at Athinon Avenue had largely evaporated by the end of trade, with the benchmark closing slightly up on the day.







KATHIMERINI: Lawlessness spikes

ETHNOS: The journey of the “invisible bomb” that was sent to former PM Loukas Papademos

TA NEA: The creditors demand that the government pays state-debts owed to businesses before handing out allowances to vulnerable social groups

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Games at the expense of Diaspora Greeks. New Democracy tables the same proposal for the vote of Greeks living abroad that was rejected in 2009

AVGI: The bailout programme review is going to proceed step-by-step until the Christmas holidays

RIZOSPASTIS: What is included in the agreement between the Greek government and the USA?

KONTRA NEWS: Schaeuble – the man who took away our homes, salaries and pensions- is gone

TO PONTIKI: Run Euclid [Finance Minister], run!

DIMOKRATIA: Who is the true leader of main opposition party New Democracy?

NAFTEMPORIKI: Draghi kept the balance and decided to extend the Quantitative Easing programme until September 2018


THEIR HOLINESSES — TIMMERMANS SPEAKS AT VATICAN: The strongly Catholic Polish government thinks Frans Timmermans is holier than thou in his views on rule of law. Today, the European Commission first vice president puts that image to the test at the Holy See, as he delivers a speech at the COMECE conference of European Catholic bishops under the broad rubric of “Rethinking Europe.” Other EU big wigs attending include European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber and former MEP Sylvie Goulard, who served in Emmanuel Macron’s Cabinet and remains close to the French president.

According to his team, Timmermans will say “our society needs bridge builders. And his Holiness the Pope is not only a bridge builder by name – Pontifex – but also by his words and deeds.”

Other top quotes include …

On society’s ills: “People are living side-by-side, rather than hand-in-hand. People are living parallel lives, receiving parallel streams of information, and having parallel conversations about right and wrong.”

On migration: “I want to salute His Holiness for his moral leadership on this issue [migration]. But there are some in Europe who do not practice the Christian values they preach.”

Jacopo Barigazzi writes that Pope Francis may be the first non-European pope in 1200 years, but he’s the most actively engaged yet in EU policy.

COMMISSION — €30B FOR RESEARCH TODAY: Commissioner for Research Carlos Moedas will at noon announce how the Commission will spend the remaining €30 billion of Horizon 2020 program money during 2018-2020. A Commission research source told Playbook to expect more focused funding: money going toward market-creating innovations on a few critical topics such as migration, security, climate, clean energy and digital.

GLYPHODRAMA — COMMISSION PUTS FORWARD 5-YEAR RENEWAL PROPOSAL: Is this the Commission’s version of being half-pregnant? After it lost its push for a 10-year reauthorization of the weedkiller, it’s now suggesting five years. That’s despite the fact there doesn’t appear to be consensus for even a three year extension. More here for POLITICO Pro Health Care, Energy and Environment and Agriculture and Food subscribers.

PARLIAMENT’S NEW VICE PRESIDENT HEIDI HAUTALA: The Finnish Green MEP replaces Ulrike Lunacek, who resigned from the vice presidency in October but remains an MEP. Lunacek had planned to leave the European Parliament to be leader of the Greens in Austria’s parliament, but the party crashed spectacularly and failed to pass the threshold for parliamentary representation.

PARLIAMENT — 4-PARTY GROUP URGE SAUDI ARMS EXPORT BAN: The Guardian has seen a letter to chief EU diplomat Federica Mogherini from the leaders of the Socialists, Liberals, European United Left and Greens, which together have 48 percent of MEPs.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs TO HEAD TO MALTA TO INVESTIGATE RULE OF LAW: The delegation will look into allegations that rule of law has collapsed in the country. Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said “corruption seems to be widespread and has become a profitable business model.” The Maltese government rejected the suggestion and welcomed the mission, Harry Cooper reports.

COUNCIL — A DIGITAL SIGNATURE FUTURE: The future is now, says the Estonian presidency.

ECB — €2T BOND-BUYING WILL BE SCALED BACK: “QE” used to refer to Queen Elizabeth. “Tapering” once meant the final stages of an Olympic athlete’s preparation for competition. Since early 2015 those phrases have referred to the European Central Bank’s desperate effort to pump life back into European economies, plagued by everything from deflation to high unemployment to bailouts. Now the bank will slowly turn off the taps through which the free money has flowed, highlighting the political and ideological splits on its board. POLITICO’s Bjarke Smith-Meyer has more from Frankfurt.

When Doves Cry: Mario Draghi is reshaping himself into a classical hawk after three years in dove’s clothing. But as long as he keeps talking like a dove, the markets seem fine with it, writes Pierre Briançon.


The feature interview this week is with European Commission Vice President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič. The episode starts with (surprise!) a special discussion on the issue of sexual violence in the EU Brussels bubble. Joanna Maycock from the European Women’s Lobby explains why she thinks the wave of recent allegations can lead to positive change. Playbook’s Ryan Heath and panelist Ailbhe Finn talk about their own experience of sexual harassment and assault.

Listen immediately | Listen offline via iTunes.

DIGITAL DIPLOMACY: The French EU embassy is seriously improving its digital diplomacy skills. A current attempt at outreach includes a video of long-standing EU Ambassador Pierre Sellal explaining his job. Video.

NATO OPINION — NOT ALL CALM ON THE EASTERN FLANK: Judy Dempsey argues in a new paper that NATO hasn’t got it right regarding its eastern flank, and is failing to achieve its goals via the NATO-Russia council and the NATO-Russia Founding Act. More here on Carnegie Europe.


EU agency harassment and bullying investigation: A senior staff member of the EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm is being investigated over allegations of harassment and bullying filed by more than 10 staff members, Dagens Nyheter reports. The European Commission said via a spokesperson that EU agencies “are independent and the Commission does not have any mandate to intervene in any human resources matters.” It is therefore not carrying out an investigation, the spokesperson said.

Court case against European Investment Bank: In this European Court of Justice case the victim seeks €6,827 in medical costs related to a sexual harassment incident. The court in July dismissed an earlier sexual harassment case against the EIB brought by the same lawyer.

Parliament’s harassment committee held an extraordinary meeting Thursday. No news yet on what, if anything, it decided.

Antonio Tajani wrote to all MEPs and their staff on harassment: Read the letter. “This Parliament is a model with a solid system put in place to prevent and respond to harassment,” he wrote. “I shall inflict the harshest punishment possible on members [MEPs] who are guilty of harassment.”

Parliament resolution against harassment: The text included proposals designed to address recent allegations. Green MEP Terry Reintke said harassment “has been tolerated for far too long” and called for “concrete action to improve the mechanisms for reporting and preventing sexual harassment.”

Quote du jour: ALDE Party Vice President Angelika Mlinar MEP wrote: “We have to go from #MeToo to #NotMe. Sexual violence is NOT an expression of strength; it’s weakness.”


Mark Halperin is out (for now) as Morning Joe NBC contributor and HBO has dropped Game Change after harassment allegations. POLITICO | Hollywood Reporter | CNN

George H.W. Bush apologizes for a groping incident involving actress Heather Lind. Actress Jordana Grolnick made a similar claim. A Bush spokesperson admitted “on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

Ambassador (and former senator) Scott Brown subject to complaints by female peace corps volunteers.


Playbook sat down with John Boehner, the former Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representative at the American Chamber of Commerce Transatlantic Business Conference in Frankfurt. He didn’t hold back. Top quotes …

Donald Trump is the “least ideological person to ever hold the office” and still learning to be president. “Do we have to pay for this most expensive ever training?” asked one conference participant.

The White House is “survival of the fittest.”

Average Republicans are: “Throwing up over the fact the knuckleheads are running the show.”

Trump haters should: “Get over it.”

Foreign companies and governments: Should follow the mantra: “Engagement works.”

Unpopular US Congress: “Exactly what the founding fathers wanted,” because it guarantees limited government.

Immigration: Trump “will turn out to be immigrants’ best friend.”

Unilateral Iran sanctions “Won’t work” and will “just make things worse.”

Easy money: Asked if U.S. and EU central banks should turn off the easy money taps: “Yes.”

Marriage advice: “Spend a lot of time apart.”


CATALAN CRISIS — RELEASING BARCELONA: Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Thursday claimed Madrid refused to drop plans to take control of the region, even when he offered a new election.

Pick-me-up: On the 30th anniversary of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé releasing their duet “Barcelona,” take a minute to recall a simpler and more hopeful time for one of the world’s favorite cities.

GERMANY — THE NEW GOVERNMENT’S EU CRYSTAL BALL: Read all about the would-be German government partners’ statement on European policy here. It’s the happy scenario, not the final deal. Florian Eder reads the tea leaves.

ITALY — NEW ELECTION LAW FINALLY PASSES: The bill was approved in the Italian senate 214 to 61. The anti-establishment 5Star Movement opposed the new rules because it refuses to work in coalitions and “by changing the voting system in national elections in favor of broad pre-election coalitions, the law could severely dent the movement’s chances of power.”

WHAT HUNGARIANS ARE TALKING ABOUT — HARASSMENT IN ARTS AND MEDIA: László Marton, one of Hungary’s most famous theater directors, has gone into hiding after allegations of harassment, generating wall-to-wall media coverage. Eva Balogh covered the story in English.

ICELAND — EX-PM ON VERGE OF POLITICAL RESURRECTION: He was booted from office on the back of a Panama Paper scandal, now Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson is set to re-enter parliament after a snap election Saturday as leader of a party he founded just last month, writes Björn Malmquist.

BREXIT 360° 

The next Brexit rift will be trade: Few in the EU27 think a trade deal with the U.K. will be a sure thing, let alone quick. Jacopo Barigazzi breaks it down.

Academic Tim Bale’s secret plan to turn students against Brexit isn’t working, he writes.

Brexit in neutral: Despite calls to “accelerate” the frequency of Brexit negotiations, as of Thursday afternoon, neither side could confirm when the sixth round of talks will actually happen, report POLITICO’s David Herszenhorn and Tom McTague.

Could Brexit trigger investor lawsuits? The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) thinks it’s a serious issue, and is raising it at a conference in London today. The legal action could be heard by an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunal.


ASSAD GOVERNMENT TO BLAME FOR CHEMICAL ATTACK: The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is to blame for an April sarin nerve gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, according to a report from the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Joint Investigative Mechanism. According to the report, ISIS was behind a sulphur mustard attack on the town of Um Housh in September 2016. More from Reuters.

In a statement, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on Russia “to stop covering up for its abhorrent ally,” the Assad regime, and “keep its own commitment to ensure that chemical weapons are never used again.”

JFK FILES: The U.S. government overnight released nearly 3,000 JFK-related files. Read them here. POLITICO on new findings in the files.