28-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

28-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU


Monday, August 28, 2017

Tsipras does groundwork for speech in Thessaloniki

Continuing his preparations for next month’s Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with representatives of businesses in the northern port city over the weekend, as his political rivals dismissed his government as unable to secure much-needed investments.


Europe΄s future, investments, Greek-French relations at the focus of Macron visit to Athens

Europe΄s future as envisioned by French President Emmanuel Macron with the urgent changes needed for the continent and the deepening of the strong relations between Greece and France will be at the center of the talks between the French leader and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, during the former΄s two-day visit to Athens on September 7-8.


 Guardian: European countries to begin repatriation of asylum seekers to Greece

European countries are expected to immediately resume the repatriation of third country asylum seekers back to Greece, in case the latter is the first EU country they entered, according to the “Guardian” on Friday.


Mitsotakis: I remain optimistic over Greece΄s prospects

“I remain optimistic over Greece΄s prospects,” main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper on Sunday.


Greek shipping companies would consider moving out, study finds

Roughly one in two Greek shipping companies (56 percent) would consider relocating their administrative bases abroad, according to the findings of an Ernst & Young study titled “Repositioning Greece as a Global Maritime Capital.”


 Greek banks reduce foreign presence by 64% since 2012; boost liquidity, capitals from sell-offs

Greek systemic banks’ obligation to downsize or sell-off their overseas operations has dramatically decreased their relevant networks abroad by 64 percent, with the result, however, translating into much needed liquidity and capital.


 PPC to sign MoU with China Development Bank next month

State-run Public Power Corp. (PPC), the dominant electricity provider in Greece, is set to sign a MoU with China Development Bank (CDB) on the sidelines of the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.








KATHIMERINI: Erdogan began sending refugees to Europe again

TO VIMA: The center-left is the apple of discord

REAL NEWS: Greek police alerted about jihadists

PROTO THEMA: Salaries of 360 Euros for 600,000 workers just like in the Stalin era

AVGI: Three changes for freelancers offer breathing air

RIZOSPASTIS: The struggle regarding contemporary popular needs is the response to anti-communism


TA NEA: The ENFIA real estate tax is ruining the government’s party

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Greek Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn has been having contacts with EU and US neo-Nazis

KONTRA NEWS: The political and media system collapses thunderously

DIMOKRATIA: The new social insurance system is going to be storm-like

NAFTEMPORIKI: The x-ray of this year’s ENFIA real estate tax

EUROPE’S NEXT COMPETITION CLASH IS ONLINE DATA: Playbook’s favorite digital platitude is the notion that “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product,” as it applies to the collection of one’s personal information. If EU antitrust watchdogs get their way, big tech companies will certainly be paying for their use of such data. But Playbook isn’t sure if that will make them Margrethe Vestager’s customer, or her poodle. They’re sure not to like it either way. And if Europe’s competition watchdogs become the source of new laws, other types of regulation or simply expensive case judgments, Silicon Valley may have Facebook to thank, report Mark Scott and Nicholas Hirst.


OFFICIAL AGENDA AND GRAPHICAL TIMELINE: David Davis will enter European Commission headquarters at 5 p.m. today. Full agenda of the week here. Check out the Brexit timeline, from referendum to EU exit, in a graphic by Sanya Khetani-Shah and Ginger Hervey.

STAGE SET FOR AN OCTOBER SHOWDOWN: With universally low expectations for this week’s negotiations — as POLITICO wrote Friday here — it is time to wonder whether British Prime Minister Theresa May will be forced into time-consuming shuttle diplomacy and a lot of phone time with European Council colleagues through September. If she does not take that path, the EU is likely to keep rejecting requests for “flexibility,” as flexibility is not baked into EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier’s instructions. And if she waits until the October European Council meeting to express concerns, there will be a lot of annoyed leaders.

Helen Thompson’s ‘Revisiting Groundhog Day’: Theresa May’s Search for an EU “Yes.” (Harold Macmillan wanted and failed to get the free trade deal with the EU the U.K. now seeks.) h/t Dominic Lawson.

Labour for soft Brexit: Keir Starmer, the U.K. Opposition’s Brexit lead, unveiled proposals to keep the U.K. in the single market on broadly the same terms as now, calling them “a grown-up acknowledgment that bespoke transitional arrangements are highly unlikely to be negotiated, agreed and established in the next 18 months.” He added: “It would enable negotiations to focus on the central Brexit issue: the nature of the new partnership.”

Mujtaba Rahman’s latest paper for Eurasia Group rates Labour’s decision to “become the party of soft Brexit” as a possible turning point, certainly more than any development that can be expected from this week’s round of negotiations.

The ex files — Mandelson slams incompetent ‘straitjacket’ of UK Brexit negotiating stance: Labour’s new policy to stay in the EU single market “frees the U.K.’s main opposition party from its submissiveness and potentially opens the way to a different Brexit outcome,” Peter Mandelson, former European trade commissioner, writes in the FT this morning. Mandelson’s former ministerial colleague Denis MacShane credits the trade union leader Frances O’Grady in particular for Labour’s policy shift.

Davis for ‘imagination’: U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis will reassure the EU his country wants a Brexit deal “that works in the best interests of both the EU and the U.K.” when he meets his EU opposite number Michel Barnier today. Davis will also tell Barnier the U.K.’s position papers are to form the “basis” of the talks and that the U.K. wants to “lock in the points where we agree, unpick the areas where we disagree, and make further progress on a range of issues.” But in order to do that, “we’ll require flexibility and imagination from both sides.”

French flexibility? The Daily Telegraph reports France and other EU countries may be willing to begin Brexit trade talks as early as October after all. “Under the terms of a proposal set out by France the U.K. is being encouraged to request a three-year transitional deal if it continues to pay into the EU budget and accepts EU law,” Peter Foster writes.

What EU officials think about ‘imagination’: “It’s one thing to have propaganda. But it’s dangerous when you believe your own propaganda,” an official said in reference to the British negotiating team.

Merkel’s reality check: Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking re-election, signaled the EU’s impatience with a British side still reluctant to discuss seriously financial settlements.

BREXIT FRONTLINE — LAMB CHOP DEAL IN SIGHT: The humble chop offers an illustration of the EU’s problem after Brexit, and that’s why one of the first deals to be done between negotiators will be one relating to trade in chops, something that in theory should be kept for phase two of the talks on the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU.

Currently there are mechanisms under which the EU imports agreed tonnages of meat, sugar and grains from around the world with lower-than-usual duties. Brussels, which negotiates a common trade policy on behalf of all 28 EU countries, has 124 such agreements with other countries, including one to buy 230,000 tons of New Zealand’s lamb and goat meat each year. The U.K. usually buys 40 percent of that.

So what does the EU do after Brexit? If Brussels spreads the U.K.’s outsize quota among the remaining 27 countries, it will infuriate Europe’s own sheep farmers, whose produce would have to compete on the market with the extra supply. The deal set to be formally agreed this week is that Britain will carve out and inherit a substantial part, if not all, of its quotas under the EU arrangements, several diplomats told Simon Marks.


BIG 4 DECLARATION ON MIGRATION AND DEFENSE: POLITICO saw a draft text from the teams of French President Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy, who are meeting this evening in Paris to discuss migration and defense policy. Here are the highlights:

Cooperation with African countries: The four leaders are open to studying the creation of “new instruments to intensify and facilitate voluntary returns [of migrants] and their reintegration [in their countries of origin], along with existing mechanism at national, European and international levels.”

Rescuing migrants at sea “remains a priority,” the draft statement says, as leaders congratulate Italy and other frontline countries for their management of operations in the Mediterranean Sea and setting up a code of conduct for NGOs. “Heads of state and governments call all NGOs operating in the area to sign and to comply with the code of conduct.”


Where the parties stand on Europe: When Germans vote September 24, they will be deciding to a significant extent the future shape of the EU. And even with Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats lagging badly, there’s more than a slim chance he could end up as finance minister and right in the hot seat of future EU expansion. Janosch Delcker walks you through the views of the six parties likely to win seats. Included are pro-EU parties, plus the far left Die Like and far right Alternative for Deutschland. The wildcards include the liberal FDP party pushing for Grexit. The bad news for the U.K: Germans are offering sympathy and not much else for the country’s Brexit choice.

Schäuble invites questions about his future: Wolfgang Schäuble won’t say whether he’ll be finance minister after the German election. That opportunity is in the chancellor’s gift, but the premise behind the questions is that Schäuble is 75 and a figure disliked outside Germany. What if the alternative is not retirement but higher office? One unlikely theory in circulation is that Schäuble could foresee letting go if it meant he was made Eurogroup president. That’s certainly one way to counter-balance Schulz!

Angela ‘no regrets’ Merkel: In an interview published Sunday, the German chancellor said she had no regrets about welcoming a million refugees from the Middle East. “I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,” Merkel said. “It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint … The head of government has to act and I did.”

Schulz slams Merkel as ‘aloof’.

FRANCE — MACRON CRASHES IN POLLS: More than half of French voters now say they are dissatisfied with his performance. The poll, conducted by IFOP for newspaper Journal du Dimanche, makes Macron more unpopular than François Hollande and Nicholas Sarkozy at the same points in their presidencies.

France’s wine war: Producers of cheap table wine are furious at no longer being able to compete with Spanish winemakers, who have a lower salary bill, and their protests are turning violent.

HUNGARY — PUTIN VISITS BUDAPEST: Russian President Vladimir Putin today visits Hungary for the opening of the World Judo Championships in Budapest, as well as an award ceremony at the University of Debrecen, where he will receive honorary citizenship. Putin is expected to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to discuss the Russian-backed Paks II nuclear power station project.

How Viktor Orbán uses sport to tighten his grip on power: Critics say the Hungarian government spends more on professional sport than higher education, with this week’s judo championship the latest in a long string of investments that include 32 football stadiums. Lili Bayer has more.

Spotted: Orbán enthusiastically enjoying a Croatian seafood restaurant in Krk. The owner was so pleased he posted the pic on TripAdvisor.

WESTERN BALKANS — LEADERS GATHER IN ALBANIA: Albania’s recently elected Prime Minister Edi Rama hosted six Balkan leaders from Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro in Durrës at the weekend, with European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn in attendance. A recent spat between Serbia and Macedonia over allegations Skopje’s intelligence services were acting against Belgrade appears to be de-escalating, with a bilateral meeting between Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and her Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev set to take place in November.

TRUMP, HURRICANE HARVEY AND BUDGET CUTS: More than 1,000 people have been rescued from floodwaters in Houston, the United States’ fourth-biggest city, in what the federal emergency service head described as probably the worst disaster in Texas history. The crisis moment comes as the Trump administrations wants to make big cuts to public weather, climate and emergency services. Trump announced he will visit Texas on Tuesday.

WHAT THE DAVOS CROWD WILL BE READING: The results of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Survey 2017 will be published today. More than 31,000 millennials aged 18-35 from more than 180 countries answered questions on economy, career, technology, values and governance. The Europe sample is the biggest this year, with more than 3,600 from Germany alone. Playbook can give you the preview that the under-35s rated inequality as the issue of most concern to them, with a majority also committed to cross-border policy action. More on weforum.org from 3 p.m. Brussels time.