29-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

29-09-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Friday, September 29, 2017

IMF’s Thomsen details compromise over ‘stress tests’, targeted AQR for Greek banks before bailout ends

Top IMF official Poul Thomsen, an “old hand” in no less than three Greek bailouts, on Thursday confirmed a looming compromise with European institutions over the Fund’s demands for a stepped up and in-depth assessment of Greece’s systemic banks before the third memorandum ends in August 2018.


BoG Gov. Stournaras: Greek economy recoverying, no room for complacency

Bank of Greece (BoG) Gov. Yannis Stournaras spoke at an event hosted by the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens on Thursday evening, detailing what he called the challenges and prospects for the country’s economy, while staying “on message” by saying that although a steady upward growth is continuing, “there is no room for complacency or a relaxation of efforts.”


Draft bill seeks to restrict taxi drivers sector

The Transport Ministry is drafting legislation that is purportedly designed to regulate ride-hailing services such as Beat and Uber but that would effectively make it harder for them to compete with Greek taxi drivers.


Greek gov’t racing for Elliniko project

Seeking to counter accusations that the planned real estate investment at the former site of the capital’s airport in Elliniko is being undermined by ideologues within ruling SYRIZA, the leftist party’s political council issued a statement Thursday expressing its “full support” for the project.


Golden Dawn’s Kasidiaris found guilty of incitement

Senior Golden Dawn lawmaker Ilias Kasidiaris received a suspended six-month prison sentence Thursday after a court in Athens found him guilty of inciting violence during a speech he gave in Aspropyrgos, northwest of the capital, in 2015.


Commission: Five billion euros in VAT remittances not collected in Greece in 2015

Lost VAT remittances in Greece for 2015 reached five billion euros, according to a study by the Commission, which was published on Thursday.


Mytilineos lands project in Libya

Greek group Mytilineos signed an agreement with the General Electricity Company of Libya on Wednesday for the engineering, procurement and construction of a new electricity production unit at Tobruk. The deal, signed in the Libyan capital Tripoli, concerns a vital unit for the Libyan grid, using natural gas and with a total output of over 650 megawatts.


China’s PCCW bids for Cyta Hellas

An unexpected third suitor has emerged for Cyta Hellas: Besides Vodafone and Wind Hellas, which confirmed on Thursday their interest in the Cypriot telecommunications group’s Greek subsidiary, Hong Kong-based PCCW is also interested.


ATHEX: Credit stocks jump 10.3 pct

The Greek stock market’s banks index rebounded 10.32 percent on Thursday as traders expressed relief that the International Monetary Fund and Frankfurt had reached an agreement on the Greek credit sector.







KATHIMERINI: Greek government racing for the Elliniko project

ETHNOS: Tax fines to be reduced

TA NEA: ‘Archeological racket’ in Elliniko

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: What lies behind the clash on the Elliniko project

AVGI: The ancient findings are not incompatible with the project of Elliniko’s development

RIZOSPASTIS: Capitalists, government and creditors sharpen their knives as they prepare for a new anti-popular attack

KONTRA NEWS: The country is at the mercy of archeologists, urban planners and forest rangers

DIMOKRATIA: Sodom and Gomorra. SYRIZA legalizes sex change even for 15-year-olds

NAFTEMPORIKI: IMF and ECB agree on the issue of banks’ stress tests

TALLINN DIGITAL SUMMIT: EU leaders are in Tallinn today for the Estonian presidency’s Digital Summit, pitched as an opportunity for them to talk up the possibilities of the digital revolution. And talk they did — gathered in the Estonian capital for an informal dinner Thursday ahead of the summit, the leaders spent four hours chit-chatting about speeches they’d already given, but not saying anything new, report David M. Herszenhorn, Florian Eder and Joanna Plucinska.

Caustic commentary: Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė tweeted during the dinner:”European horizons drawn. Important to avoid mirages in the desert on the way.”

Europe’s ‘e-believers’ versus the skeptics: Today there may be warm words spoken about things like cashless payments in grocery stores and a sharing economy in which companies like Uber and Airbnb reinvent commuting and travel. But the reality back home in many capitals is very different. POLITICO’s David M. Herszenhorn and Joanna Plucinska describe how the tech transformation is running up against government-created roadblocks across the EU.

Divisions undermine Europe’s digital tax plans: Some 19 European countries, including the region’s largest economies, want tech firms to pay more into their national coffers. Opposing that effort are a shrinking number of countries, including Ireland, that have become a home-away-from-home for Silicon Valley’s largest companies, write Mark Scott, Nicholas Vinocur, Bjarke Smith-Meyer and Nicholas Hirst.

Estonian PM talks up digital: “Europe cannot sustain its economic and social triple-A ratings without a digital triple-A,” writes Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas in Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore.

COMMISSION — JOUROVÁ QUITS FACEBOOK DUE TO HATE: At a press conference during which commissioners announced new measures to reduce the amount of illegal content online, Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová said she had deleted her Facebook account, describing it as a “highway for hatred.” The proposals, which build on voluntary measures already in place, include ways to speed up the process for illegal content to be removed from the internet, 28 percent of which remains online after a week, according to Commission estimates. Buried in the press material is a warning the institution would “assess whether additional measures are needed … including possible legislative measures to complement the existing regulatory framework” by May next year.

COMMISSION — AFRICAN EXTERNAL INVESTMENT PLAN LAUNCHED: The board of the European Fund for Sustainable Development — an initiative intended to funnel up to €44 billion to fragile African states, modeled on the Juncker Investment Plan for the EU — met Thursday for its first meeting to decide on investment priorities, just a year after it was first proposed by the Commission.

African ministers in town: High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides are hosting a ministerial meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, a trade bloc of East African countries.

PARLIAMENT — MONSANTO LOBBYISTS BANNED: Political leaders in the European Parliament Thursday decided to ban lobbyists representing Monsanto from entering the institution. According to two officials familiar with the discussions that took place, they were angered by a letter sent to them by Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice president of corporate affairs, obtained by Playbook, which explained why the firm’s CEO would not show up to a hearing scheduled for October 11 to discuss a leak of company documents revealed during a U.S. court case. “With respect, it is not the role of the European Parliament to question the credibility of the scientific output of either the independent EU agencies or those in third countries,” read the letter. (Read page one here and page two here.)

TRADE — COMMISSION MAKES BEEF OFFER TO BREAK MERCOSUR IMPASSE: Brussels is making a big push to finalize a landmark trade deal with the South American Mercosur bloc by the end of the year. POLITICO’s trade and agriculture teams have exclusive details for POLITICO Pro Trade, Agriculture and Food and Energy and Environment subscribers on how Europe will offer to open up its market to Latin American beef and ethanol to secure the accord.

HEALTH — DOCTORS AND NURSES FOLLOW THE MONEY: More doctors and nurses move from one country to another than any other highly regulated profession in the EU, and the flows often go East to West, from poorer EU countries like Romania where health spending per capita is €816 per year to richer ones like Germany, where it’s €4,000. Ginger Hervey crunched European Commission data to track who is moving where, finding the U.K. receives more foreign nurses and doctors than any other EU country.

BREXIT 360° …


It wasn’t bonhomie, or even hygge, but the ice is melting in Brexit negotiations. Just not enough to move to transition arrangements or the future EU-U.K. relationship.

The parties claimed most progress was achieved on citizens’ rights. Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Davis said the U.K. had committed to incorporate its deal with the EU into U.K. law — terming this “direct effect,” a pledge the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described as “very important” while noting there’s still no agreement on the role for the European Court of Justice.

POLITICO’s Charlie Cooper and David M. Herszenhorn lay out the top takeaways from this week’s negotiations, which were “by the standards of the Brexit talks” thus far “a good week,” even if “it’s a pretty low bar.”

Parliament to vote on hard-hitting Brexit resolution next week in Strasbourg: The European Parliament wants EU leaders to postpone their assessment of whether Brexit talks have made enough progress to move to the next phase “unless there is a major breakthrough” in the next round in October, according to a draft resolution drawn up by the five major political groups in the Parliament.

Here’s your cheat sheet to the six-page resolution.

Page 3, paragraph 3: The transition “can only be the continuation of the whole of the acquis communautaire, which entails the full application of the four freedoms … this must take place without any limitation on the free movement of persons by imposing any new conditions … such a transitional period can only be envisaged under the full jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

Page 3, paragraph 4: Special emphasis on children born to EU27 citizens in the U.K. after Brexit.

Page 4, paragraph 7: Special protections should exist for EU27 citizens so the U.K. cannot unilaterally revoke their Brexit deal agreement at a later date.

Page 5, ‘Process of the negotiations’: There must be “tangible changes” to the U.K.’s position papers to reflect Prime Minister Theresa May’s Florence speech.

THE HOF PILES ON: Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, took a pot-shot at British PM Theresa May in his London School of Economics speech Thursday. Verhofstadt quipped that May chose Florence to give her Brexit speech “because Florentine politics in the 15th century made her feel at home. Backstabbing, betrayal, noble families fighting for power … It is an environment that she recognized fairly well.” More from Reuters.


Russell’s biggest problem is other Scots, specifically U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who are both set on returning powers to Westminster.

Fish-grabber: “Gove is the biggest power-grabber of the lot,” said Russell, accusing Gove of “wanting EU fish, agriculture and environment powers [back] in his department.” Gove is due to meet European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan today in London.

Devolution at risk: To Russell, Fox is the lynchpin in a wider government strategy to undermine the U.K. constitutional settlement that devolves many powers to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. “Trade is the driver for undermining devolution,” said Russell, adding that Fox and others in the British government fear that if Scotland were to gain veto rights over any of the trade deals the U.K. intends to strike after Brexit, it would assume the role the Belgian region of Wallonia played in the EU-Canada trade deal known as CETA.

UK — MAY SAYS TORIES WEREN’T READY FOR JUNE ELECTION: “By definition in a snap election you’ve not been able to prepare people for it,” the British PM told Politics Home, pointing to one factor in her party’s poor performance at the ballot in June. She also acknowledged issues with the Conservatives’ organization. One issue “was the need to have, in a sense, a less centralized campaign … an awful lot of people out there in the party worked hard on the ground, and there is a feeling that there wasn’t the ability to do what they wanted to do. There weren’t the links with the center that there should have been.”

UK — TORIES WANT MAY TO QUIT BEFORE NEXT ELECTION: Just 29 percent of Conservative Party members want Theresa May to contest the next British general election, while 5 percent want her to step down as leader immediately, 8 percent want her gone next year, 38 percent after Brexit in 2019 and 13 percent just before the next election, according to a poll in the Times. Boris Johnson is members’ favored successor, followed by Ruth Davidson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.


The Catalan regional government will attempt to hold an unconstitutional referendum on independence from Spain, a situation that threatens to spread into a full-blown Spanish constitutional crisis with EU-wide implications on issues of fundamental rights, rule of law and EU membership. Playbook interviewed two of the key players for our weekly EU Confidential podcast. Listen here or download for later here.

‘An evil illegal act’: Jorge Toledo Albiñana, Spain’s secretary of state for European affairs, called the vote an “evil illegal act” that undermines 500 years of shared history, 60 years of European integration and 40 years of Spanish democracy.

Kennedy would understand: Toledo compared Madrid’s battle to stop the vote to U.S President John F. Kennedy sending in troops to uphold the rights of black students to attend desegregated schools in the south of the United States. “Kennedy said that it was a basic principle of the United States of America and of freedom to abide by the law. You can disagree with the law. You can change the law. But you cannot not apply the law because you think it is not fit to your purposes.”

Macho Madrid: Amadeu Altafaj, Catalonia’s representative in Brussels, said Toledo’s comments are “very telling,” and claimed Madrid will use any means — including courts, armed police, undercover operations, and communication bans — rather than political dialogue to end the debate. Altafaj slammed Madrid’s tactics as a “black and white, passionate macho Latino approach.” He said the Spanish government is “not rational” and with a different approach “most of the tensions could have been diffused years ago.”

HUNGARY — TRANSLATED NATIONAL CONSULTATION QUESTIONS: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government has launched another “national consultation” — this time on the so-called Soros plan, an allusion to an article billionaire George Soros penned in 2015 at the height of the migration crisis, in which he called for a million asylum seekers (not immigrants, as stated by the Hungarian government) to be resettled in the EU. Budapest Beacon has translated the statements Hungarians will be asked to vote on, including the suggestion Soros wants “to dismantle border fences in EU member states … to push the languages and cultures of Europe into the background [and] to initiate political attacks against those countries which oppose immigration, and to severely punish them.”

SWEDEN — THE FAR RIGHT AND FREE SPEECH: A small group of neo-Nazis from the Nordic Resistance Movement is expected to stage a march in Gothenburg to coincide with a book fair taking place this weekend, challenging Sweden’s tradition of free speech and tolerance. “In the past, it was more important for them to show that they were willing to ‘take the fight’ with the left on the streets,” Daniel Wiklander, editor-in-chief of anti-racism magazine Expo, said. “Now it’s also about controlling the narrative, getting press coverage and using the media to their advantage.” Nathalie Rothschild has the story.

PORTUGAL — COSTA BASKS IN SUN OF ECONOMIC GROWTH: Local elections take place in Portugal this Sunday, and Prime Minister António Costa is riding high in the polls as his country gains a healthy economic glow, causing much consternation amongst the center-right opposition. “All these benefits that we’re getting now are the results of the work that we did in government,” Teresa Leal Coelho, the center-right Social Democrat candidate for Lisbon mayor, told POLITICO’s Paul Ames.