29-08-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 29-08-2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cabinet discusses education reforms, wildfire damage

A new draft bill by the ministry of education which proposes changes in secondary education was the main topic discussed in a cabinet meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

http://www.amna.gr/en/article/181978/Cabinet-discusses-education-reforms–wildfire-damage-

Kaminis officially announces candidacy for new center-left party

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis has officially announced his candidacy for Greece’s a new center-left political party that aspires to establish itself between SYRIZA and New Democracy.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221184/article/ekathimerini/news/kaminis-officially-announces-candidacy-for-new-center-left-party

ENFIA property tax hitting home again

The amounts due in property tax (ENFIA) were posted on taxpayers’ Taxisnet accounts on Monday, as the discrepancies between the market and taxable values of real estate in Greece continue.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221191/article/ekathimerini/business/enfia-property-tax-hitting-home-again

Technical Chamber of Greece proposes integrated database to tackle red tape, corruption

In the effort to overcome Greece’s notorious bureaucracy, conflicting laws and corruption that is sabotaging badly need investment, the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE), Giorgos Stasinos, has proposed the creation of a digital map that aims to collect all the information an investor needs with regard to land use. The idea is to include all the information in one application.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221199/article/ekathimerini/news/technical-chamber-of-greece-proposes-integrated-database-to-tackle-red-tape-corruption

Steel industry facing total reshape amid many closures

More than 40 major manufacturing businesses, employing over 250 persons each have been forced to close since 2008, the majority belonging to the steel sector and related fields, according to European Commission data processed and presented by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), Greece’s largest economics research institute.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221188/article/ekathimerini/business/steel-industry-facing-total-reshape-amid-many-closures

Massive surge in tourist arrivals to Greece from Balkan neighbors since 2009

Tourist arrivals from Greece’s southeast European neighbors have posted a massive increase over the current economic recession in the country, according to figures collected by the country’s statistical service.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1270500/massive-surge-in-tourist-arrivals-to-greece-from-balkan-neighbors-since-2009

Greek private sector bank deposits rise in July for third month in a row

Greek private sector bank deposits rose in July for the third month in a row, central bank data showed on Monday, but they remain at 14-year lows.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/221182/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-private-sector-bank-deposits-rise-in-july-for-third-month-in-a-row

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www.cnn.gr

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KATHIMERINI: Instead of being eliminated university entry exams will be taken twice

TA NEA: The government attempts to divert the agenda and discusses changes in the Constitution that will favor its strategy 

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Gradual reform in the education system

AVGI: Gang formed by media and football club owners Marinakis and Alafouzos

RIZOSPASTIS: The omnibus bill tabled by the Labor Ministry constitutes an attempt to mask the attack against workers

KONTRA NEWS: Suspicious connections between bank executives and foreign vulture funds regarding red loans

DIMOKRATIA: The Mayor of Athens is involved in dirty business

NAFTEMPORIKI: 14 changes in the social insurance system

EIB — MACHO TIME WARP AT WORLD’S LARGEST MULTILATERAL LENDER: The European Investment Bank has a woman problem. As Maïa de la Baume catalogues, the bank — which oversees massive EU flagship projects — is under investigation for gender discrimination, has no women on its management committee and was rebuked last month by the EU’s General Court for blocking the promotion of a female employee. All that followed gender-based complaints in 2015 by the European Parliament.

Female employees POLITICO spoke to described a thick glass ceiling at the bank, at odds with the EU’s claims to be pushing for equality and diversity. The accusations include professional discouragement based on family responsibilities, cheap comments about interns and suggestions that promoted women get the boost because of their gender. Werner Hoyer, the bank’s president, told POLITICO he agrees there’s a problem.

BREXIT JUST KEEPS GETTING WEIRDER: The U.K.’s David Davis and EU’s Michel Barnier lead two negotiating teams unable to even agree on what they are talking about. The two stood Monday side-by-side, delivering barely concealed broadsides against the goodwill of the other. Barnier said he was “concerned” about the dismal state of the talks, urging “We must start negotiating seriously.” It’s a sophisticated version of two brothers refusing to clean their shared bedroom.

Watch the Barnier-Davis press conference here. David Herszenhorn analyzes Brexit’s “Groundhog Week” here. More in Playbook’s Brexit corner below.

COMMISSION — POLAND FIGHTS BACK ON RULE OF LAW: The Polish government isn’t backing down in its battle with the European Commission over its judicial reforms. On Monday, the foreign ministry said it had provided “exhaustive clarifications” in a letter responding to the Commission’s rule of law concerns. Poland also suggested the concerns are politically rather than legally motivated, and the reforms merely borrow from other European judicial practices.

“The government is not certain that the Commission has the competence to interfere in the Polish judicial system,” a Polish diplomat told Maïa de la Baume, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The government doesn’t understand why the Commission is able to be so active in the rule of law framework — the member states and the European Council should be responsible for that.” Read the government’s statement here.

Slovenian prime minister open to sanctions: “If someone seriously threatens the rule of law in Europe, Slovenia will support sanctions, if necessary,” said Miro Cerar, Slovenia’s prime minister.

COMMISSION — ACTION TO CLOSE BANKING LAW LOOPHOLE: The European Commission Monday adopted a “delegated act” (a supplementary rule) to prevent large banks circumventing key requirements in the EU’s upcoming trading and transparency rules for financial markets. The rules are designed to stop banks shifting potentially risky deals into the shadows.

MIGRATION — WHAT HAPPENED AT THE EU BIG 4 MEETING: Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomatic official, said: “There is no need to invent a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa.” That’s just as well as Germany, France, Italy and Spain aren’t offering one in light of suggestions that only major investments in Africa would stem the flow of migrants and refugees headed for Europe. Re-cap on what each party wanted from the summit.

Parliament excited: Nevertheless, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani called on EU leaders to set aside €6 billion in financial aid for Libya to stop migrants entering Europe via the central Mediterranean, similar to the EU-Turkey migration deal, he told La Repubblica. Meanwhile, Gianni Pittella, the Parliamentary Socialist leader, issued this press release about an unspecified shift in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s views.

PARLIAMENT — WHERE’S MANFRED? The leader of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, is nowhere to be seen, in Brussels at least. He’s busy campaigning in Germany’s federal election campaign. Full agenda here.

TECH — DEADLINE TODAY IN GOOGLE SHOPPING CASE: Google must today submit its plans to the European Commission indicating how it intends to comply with the Commission’s June 27 order that it stop elevating Google Shopping to the top of its search results. POLITICO’s Nicholas Hirst told Playbook this is the opening salvo in what will be an intense negotiation. Google has until September 28 to implement changes that are acceptable to the Commission across Europe.

POSTCARD FROM AUSTRIA — EUROPEAN ALPBACH FORUM …

Austria’s political bubble decamps each August to the Tyrolean mountain village of Alpbach. From the president and chancellor down, anyone who’s anyone mingles with local students, a global selection of scholarship recipients and a motley cast of current and ex-political stars and academics from around the world. It’s Davos minus the private jets, with a side of schnitzel.

As standard operating procedure, the ministers of the current coalition Austrian government barely cooperate. Now, with the Austrian election campaign moving into top gear (think campaign buses hopping from village to village with traditional bands to greet them), it’s even more tense.

Chancellor Christian Kern posted a birthday video for his rival for the chancellorship, Sebastian Kurz. Kern seemed keen to highlight the fact Kurz was turning 31, and Monday evening was at pains to point out his own relative political inexperience. This is, after all, the age of the political outsider: “What I’ve learned in the last 15 months as a relatively new politician is there are so many vested interests,” Kern, a Social Democrat, told a plenary session on green innovation.

EU internet bouncers: Not to be outdone, the conservative Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka floated the idea Monday evening that Europeans might one day need a digital identity card to operate across the internet: “We need to restore the balance between freedom and security … This also means having to prove oneself.”

Alpbach sunrise hike picPresident Alexander Van der Bellen joins young girls’ lemonade stand.

Thought of the day: The writer Evgeny Morozov in a Playbook interview argued the main purpose of the ‘Great Firewall of China’ was not to suppress free expression (though it does) but to act as a type of digital protectionism that has allowed China to leverage its population to create giant tech companies like TenCent and Alibaba to rival Silicon Valley. Europe, Morozov suggests, should use U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade threats on steel and other low-margin products as a chance to erect retaliatory digital barriers in one last shot to match U.S. tech giants.

Tweet du jour:Hillary’s phone pls don’t hack” a.k.a. the name of the iPhone hotspot of Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook at European Alpbach Forum.

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW — KURT VOLKER, US SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR UKRAINE NEGOTIATIONS …

Ambassador Volker undertakes his role on a no-salary basis with only his expenses covered, while continuing his work as executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership. He spoke to Playbook in Alpbach, Austria.

The strength of the US ‘security cabinet’: Volker considers foreign policy the Trump administration’s strong suit. The team, including Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, Mike Pompeo and now effectively White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, is “very reassuring to our European allies.” He added: “Vice President Pence I think has been tremendously reassuring to allies.”

On the ‘Normandy format’: Led by Germany and France and intended to resolve the situation in East Ukraine, Volker says it’s America’s job to support the Europeans on the format but “everybody knows that it’s not going to produce a result.”

On changing Russia’s Ukraine position: “No one thinks that we’re going to just overpower Russia. Or give them a defeat,” the current situation “is not good for anybody. It’s not good for Russia and Ukraine. Not good for the people.” If Russian President Vladimir Putin “wants a way out of Ukraine I think we would like to help him. Help find a way to make it a success.”

On the validity of Russia’s claim it’s protecting Russophones: “The only place in Ukraine where Russian-speaking people are at risk is inside the place where the Russian forces are.”

Russia’s unintended effects: “Russia wanted Ukraine to remain part of Russia. And what it has done through these invasions is drive them away. They’ve created a stronger national identity. More nationalism. And more of a Western orientation in Ukraine than ever existed before.”

Ukraine’s domestic reform challenge: Kiev “has a whole host of issues that have hurt Ukraine over the years that have nothing to do with Russia … this [the conflict with Russia] has been an impetus we’ve got to get our house together but they need to go much, much further.”

Russian election 2018: “I think U.S. interference in Russian elections would backfire on the U.S. and therefore the U.S. is not going to do it. It’s that simple … I fully believe Putin is going to orchestrate his own re-election.”

AS REFORMS STALL, A UKRANIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION: Five ways in which violence, crisis and upheaval are driving the country’s arts and culture, by Vijai Maheshwari.

BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS WRAP … 

The (rather short) Day 1: David Davis left after roughly an hour in the Berlaymont.

UK’s Japan trade deal hopes dashed: British PM Theresa May is headed to Tokyo this week and she won’t be met with good news. Japan will wait to see what the U.K.’s relationship with the EU is before seeking a trade deal, report Robin Harding and Leo Lewis.

German business isn’t on the UK’s side: CEOs continue to place greater value on the so-called integrity of the single market than in calming Britain, but some organizations are starting to make noises about the need for “Brexit clarity.”

Don’t try to divide us, Elysée warns: In a rare move, the French government vehemently denied on Monday it is willing to cut a Brexit deal outside of Michel Barnier’s terms of reference, responding to a story published Monday in the Telegraph. The claim “is unfounded,” an official said.

Brussels bubble spent Monday lauding Charles Grant: The Center for European Reform chief argued in the Guardian that moderates on both sides of the negotiations will prevail.

SPAIN — ERDOĞAN OUTSOURCES POLITICAL PERSECUTION TO SPAIN: The Spanish government does not screen Interpol arrest requests for human rights concerns before handing them onto police and the courts. While the police may later be overruled, the real-world consequences are piling up for EU nationals of Turkish origin whom Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wishes to punish.

Spain’s high court decided in two different instances that Swedish journalist Hamza Yalçin must remain in custody pending a hearing. German writer Doğan Akhanlı was released but forbidden to leave the country pending the court’s decision. “I couldn’t really imagine that some day in Europe I would be locked up in a cell again,” Akhanlı, who has been living in Germany since the 1990s and had been jailed in the past in Turkey, told Diego Torres.

SPAIN — RAJOY, SANCHEZ LINE UP AGAINST CATALAN INDEPENDENCE: Weeks before a referendum on Catalan independence is due to take place, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez, leader of the center-left PSOE, have agreed to a “joint response” to the independence movement, as Catalan secessionists resumed their push for independence.

FRANCE CORNER …

Opinion — Emmanuel Macron putting nationalism before solidarity: Die Welt’s Thomas Schmid on Macron’s real priorities here.

Macron’s new friend: The Macrons adopted a labrador-griffin cross called Nemo on Sunday.

Former politicians become columnists: Le Lab has the full list of pols turned pundits, including former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former Ministers Axelle Lemaire and Aurélie Filippetti, former MP Henri Guaino, and Raquel Garrido, a top political operative for Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Buzzfeed reports the arrival of Marine Le Pen’s top adviser Jean Messiha at the radio station Europe 1 is not going down well with its reporters.

ALBANIA — RAMA ANNOUNCES NEW CABINET: Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced the make-up of the country’s new Socialist government, made up of 13 ministers, six of whom are women. Balkan Insight has more.

Mogherini to host meeting with Serb, Kosovo leaders: Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, will host Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and his Kosovo counterpart, Hashim Thaci, in Brussels this Thursday.

NORTH KOREA — MISSILE ESCALATION: The U.S. confirmed Monday evening that North Korea test-fired a missile that traveled over the territory of Japan.

TRUMP WORLD …

US to shrink presence at UN General Assembly: Aides to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said America will have a “toe-print, not a footprint” at next month’s U.N. General Assembly, shrinking the size of the delegation visiting New York as President Donald Trump reshapes the U.S. approach to diplomacy worldwide.

Rex Tillerson looking to eliminate dozens of special envoy posts: Tillerson also wants to eliminate at least 30 special envoy positions at the State Department, including ones dedicated to the Syrian crisis and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

WEF — MILLENIALS SAY: Full Global Shapers 2017 survey results here