28-06-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

28-06-2018 | EYE ON GREECE |

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tsipras and Mitsotakis offer differing narratives on economy

During his talks in Berlin on Wednesday New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to reduce corporate taxation and ease the burden on Greek taxpayers, while Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was wrapping up a visit to London, did not rule out sidestepping the pensions cut next January.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230130/article/ekathimerini/business/tsipras-and-mitsotakis-offer-differing-narratives-on-economy

ND expels Athens chamber president Michalos from party

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) expelled Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) President Konstantinos Michalos on Wednesday, characteristically charging that “Trojan Horses” have no place in the party.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1365455/nd-expels-athens-chamber-president-michalos-from-party

Zaev says Greeks have nothing to fear from FYROM

Amid uncertainty over the outcome of the name deal reached between Athens and Skopje two weeks ago, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Zoran Zaev, has urged Greeks not to be frightened of his country.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230123/article/ekathimerini/news/zaev-says-greeks-have-nothing-to-fear-from-fyrom

Incident at AN.EL MP’s office a ‘false flag’

A notorious anarchist “collective” took responsibility for an attempted “intervention” on Wednesday at an Athens office of a deputy belonging to the junior coalition partner, the rightwing AN.EL party.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1365331/incident-at-anel-mps-office-a-false-flag

Moria community leader ends hunger strike after talks

The leader of the Moria community on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos ended on Wednesday a hunger strike which he had started on Sunday in protest at overcrowding at the Moria reception center.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230117/article/ekathimerini/news/moria-community-leader-ends-hunger-strike-after-talks

Heavy rainfall shuts down highway, floods western Attica

The Athens-Corinth national highway was closed off for about two hours at the 29th klm and western Attica flooded, after thunderstorms hit several parts of Greece on Wednesday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230109/article/ekathimerini/news/heavy-rainfall-shuts-down-highway-floods-western-attica

Reforms can boost the field for startups

In the next five years Greece could become a field of growth for 2,100 startups, which could lead to the creation of 20,000 new jobs and reverse brain drain, according to the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), provided that the country implements specific reform policies and introduces incentives for the development of ecosystems for new enterprises.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230136/article/ekathimerini/business/reforms-can-boost-the-field-for-startups

ATHEX: Credit stocks continue to sink lower

There was little movement on the local stock exchange on Wednesday as the rises registered by most European markets and the decline of the Greek benchmark bond’s yield failed to impress traders. With two sessions left till the end of the year’s first half, banks continued to lose ground. The credit sector’s stocks have returned to prices below those of their last recapitalization.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/230129/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-credit-stocks-continue-to-sink-lower

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KATHIMERINI: Mandra [region in Western Attica] remains unfortified

ETHNOS: ENFIA real estate tax and contributions to be ‘trimmed’

TA NEA: Inner-government turbulence is a humiliating farce

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Sinking in the mud of bureaucracy

AVGI: PM Tsipras in London: Solidarity and Democracy is Europe’s future

RIZOSPASTIS: The lies about ‘fair growth’ drowned by torrential rainfall

KONTRA NEWS: New Democracy is terrified due to the potential establishment of a new right-wing party

TO PONTIKI: Four-front collision between the government and main opposition New Democracy

DIMOKRATIA: Great turbulence both for the government and opposition parties

NAFTEMPORIKI: Targets for state revenues and expenses reviewed

GOTTA ADMIRE THE CHUTZPAH: The endgame over Angela Merkel’s hold on the German chancellorship has begun. The coming days will be decisive, the European summit included. She’ll first need to convince her European peers to do something for her, which hasn’t happened often in her career. Appropriate summit conclusions are one thing. But a good number of bilateral agreements on how to voluntarily speed up the return of asylum seekers to the country responsible for them under current — apparently un-reformable — Dublin regulations would be even better.

The chancellory has sent written requests to European countries, two officials from recipient capitals told Playbook. They’re looking into it, they say. A German government official told reporters Merkel will hold bilateral meetings at the margins of the summit and that while it’s “helpful to have a European framework” as put forward in the summit conclusions, it’s not “the all-decisive issue.” Among the willing: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras signaled, via the FT, that his country is open to a deal with Germany. France’s Emmanuel Macron has too, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is a newly won ally.

The number of successful agreements will be a good indicator of how willing the rest of Europe is to help Merkel. But that’s only half the battle: Her smaller coalition partner, the Bavarian Christian Social Union, has claimed the privilege of assessing whether or not it’s enough. “She’ll let us know about how it went Friday, that’s what we’ve agreed,” CSU leader Horst Seehofer told TV host Sandra Maischberger Wednesday evening. Concrete policy results really could make the difference, he went so far as to say: “There can be results that we could be happy with.”

But whether rational criteria apply in the German conservative camp’s protracted fight, lawmakers from both the CDU and CSU Playbook spoke to over the past few days couldn’t say.

The West vs. the CSU: “I have immeasurable respect for Angela Merkel,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said during a visit to Berlin this week. “I think she’s an outstanding leader faced with a very difficult set of challenges.” While that view persists across much of the West, at home, questions about her leadership are growing louder by the day, Matthew Karnitschnig writes.

GOOD MORNING. It’s EU summit day, so let’s get to it without further ado: Amid an escalating trade war with the United States, a rekindled political crisis over migration and new urgency around efforts to revamp the eurozone, EU leaders convene in Brussels for one of their busiest summits in recent memory. Here is an updated version of the latest draft conclusions. Follow the action with POLITICO’s live blog, kicking off around 10 a.m. Brussels time.

SUMMIT FRENZY

CHOREOGRAPHY: European Council President Donald Tusk will try to wrap up ordinary business between 3 p.m. and dinner. Leaders will talk Donald Trump — that means preemptively discussing Europe’s reaction to potential U.S. tariffs on cars and next month’s NATO summit — and the way forward on the Commission’s proposed seven-year financial plan, the Multiannual Financial Framework (the question there is: Can debate realistically be concluded before next spring’s European election?). Thursday’s dinner will revolve around the excruciating migration issue. Friday will start with a Brexit breakfast (without Theresa May), followed by a Euro summit, to which Tusk has invited everybody else (except May).

Guests: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, as well as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Eurogroup President Mário Centeno (both Friday). Plus, as always, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

What to expect: A toughening of the EU’s migration policy. Eurozone reforms are also finally happening — to some extent. Nothing on Brexit. David Herszenhorn has more on what the summit holds.

WHAT’S AT STAKE? “More and more people are starting to believe that only strong-handed authority, anti-European and anti-liberal in spirit, with a tendency towards overt authoritarianism, is capable of stopping the wave of illegal migration. If people believe them, that only they can offer an effective solution to the migration crisis, they will also believe anything else they say. The stakes are very high. And time is short,” Tusk wrote. Full letter here.

THE WEST IS ON ITS OWN

TRUDERING RELOADED: Taking a step back, it looks like the past few weeks in European politics have created an opportunity to rewrite the narrative that took hold as a result of the Brexit vote and Trump’s early days in office. The new version might go something like this: At the G7 in Charlevoix, the West minus the U.S. — but notably including the U.K. — had a moment of bitter reckoning and realized it really will have to go it alone now.

That was the trigger for Europe’s Big Two to finally bridge the gap at Meseberg Castle last week and hammer out mutual issues that have gone unresolved since the introduction of the euro. (It only took one consistent — yet consistently hesitant — German chancellor and three French presidents, after all.) The eurozone budget compromise was more than Merkel simply buying French help in her rather piddling migration dispute with the CSU — it was a real linking of arms.

Or put another way — make peace, not war: Germany and France “made proposals to further develop the monetary union, not to dominate others, but to give food for thought,” as Merkel said when she hosted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez earlier this week. An answer, perhaps, both to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who declared the eurozone budget non-negotiable in an FT interview, and to the Nordic and Baltic countries still unhappy with the concept itself.

Back to today: The European Council summit would be the moment to broaden the base to 28 — from the two who pushed the eurozone debate in Meseberg and the 16 who discussed migration at the Berlaymont on Sunday — to speed up files such as the banking union and mitigate tensions over migration by agreeing to take concrete action. All in all, the message is this: Europe’s true opponents are not in the summit room (or in your own governing coalition at home.)

It’s a valid point: Just look at Europe’s ongoing trade woes with Washington, and spare a thought for those tremblingly awaiting what Donald Trump will do with his next opportunity to tear up another Western summit at NATO in two weeks. But the big question will be: Is that argument still enough to unite European leaders, and more cynically, can it do the trick again?

Thought experiment: If leaders were asked to sign the Rome Declaration now, would they all be on board again, Hungary and Poland included?

AROUND THE EU

A LIFELINE: After six days on the Mediterranean, the “Lifeline” rescue ship was allowed to reach safe haven in Malta. The German NGO-operated vessel rescued more than 200 migrants off the coast of Libya, but was unable to dock after both Italy and Malta initially refused to grant it access. According to the Maltese government, several EU countries — Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and France — have agreed to accept refugees. In Germany, several Länder have also offered to take people in.

What’s next? A political debate on the back of the 234 people on board. In a debate in the German Bundestag, Seehofer said Wednesday there was “no need for action by the Federal Republic of Germany” because other EU countries had already offered to take the refugees. “German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer calls us ‘a shuttle to Europe’ while we are rescuing people,” Erik Marquardt, a spokesperson of the German NGO told Vassili Golod. According to the NGO, it is “illegal and a violation of international law” to force people to return to Libya from international waters, which is what they were told to do. Their letter to the minister here.

CROCODILE TEARS: “Jyrki Katainen would have been an excellent candidate, but I understand and respect his decision,” said Alexander Stubb, the European Investment Bank’s vice president. “I will reflect over a possible candidacy over the coming months, discuss it with my family and European friends. I hope to have cleared my head after the summer holidays, and by that I mean the Brussels break.” Commission Vice President Katainen took himself out of the race to be the European Peoples’ Party’s Spitzenkandidat in next May’s European election. David Herszenhorn and Ryan Heath have the full story.

ALSO OUT OF THE PICTURE: Germany, the reigning champion, is out of the World Cup in the group stage for the first time in the game’s history. But don’t try to pin this one on Merkel or German political dysfunction: “The German football team was knocked out of the World Cup because it played terrible, un-Germanic football,” writes Tunku Varadarajan for POLITICO’s Linesman blog.

BREXIT WOES: Britain’s Brexiteers had hoped German economic interests — and concern over losing access to the lucrative U.K. market — would be their shortcut to a pragmatic deal with the EU. And German business is speaking up, but not the way London hoped. Josh Posaner has more.

A SOFTENING IN WARSAW: Polish lawmakers have watered down the country’s controversial “Holocaust law,” voting Wednesday to remove the threat of jail terms for people who implicate the country in Nazi crimes. The law — intended to ensure Poland isn’t tarred with responsibility for helping Germany commit the Holocaust during World War II — was attacked by critics for advocating a revisionist version of history.

‘REALLY GREAT’ GUYS: Trump will meet Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Washington on July 30, according to the White House. The two met at the G7 summit, where Trump tweeted the Italian premier was a “really great guy” and Conte backed the president’s call to bring back to the G8 format to include Russia.

PRESIDENT MEETS PRESIDENT: We knew we could count on you to dig up more EU-U.S. bilaterals than the ones we mentioned Wednesday. Thank you for the entries. Hereby adding: Jacques Delors’ visit with Bill Clinton in 1993; George W. Bush’s hosting of an EU delegation led by then Commission President José Manuel Barroso in 2007; and Barack Obama receiving Barroso at the White House in 2009. (But between us, dear geeks, you have to admit those were not, strictly speaking, bilaterals).