30-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

30-10-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Monday, October 30, 2017

Greek PM on F-16 upgrade contract: No agreement, only negotiation so far

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday clarified that there is “no agreement, but negotiations” in referring to any future program to upgrade the country’s fleet of US-made F-16 fighter planes.


Letter-bomb suspect caught clearing weapons, explosives from safe house

A 29-year-old man who was arrested in the early hours of Saturday in central Athens on suspicion of having sent the letter bombs that injured former premier Lucas Papademos in May and an employee at the International Monetary Fund’s office in Paris in March, was allegedly in the process of clearing guns and explosives from a safe house.


Greece sees higher budget surplus this year, solid growth in 2018

Greece expects to beat creditors’ projections and achieve a higher primary surplus this year and buoyant growth in 2018, authorities said, as lenders moved forward on “constructive” talks on bailout reforms.


Foreign ministry replies to Spain’s Ambassador accusations

The comments of Spain’s Ambassador to Greece, Enrique Viguera, on the position of the Greek government on the Catalan vote and the Rouvikonas anarchist group caused the government’s response.


Committees at odds with Council of State over refugees’ safety in Turkey

Hundreds of Syrian refugees face more uncertainty – albeit of a more positive nature – following two separate recent decisions by asylum appeals committees ruling that Turkey cannot be deemed a safe third country.


Infectious diseases increase 39.7 pct in 2016

The number of patients suffering from infectious diseases such as the flu, tuberculosis and meningitis that were reported to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) shot up by 39.7 percent in 2016 to 4,780 cases, against 3,421 the previous year.


The clause that implicitly calls for tax evasion

Freelance professionals in Greece may declare as low an income as they wish in order to avoid paying taxes, solidarity levies and social security contributions. This year’s tax statements showed that 89 percent of them declared annual takings below 7,000 euros. One might assume that declaring a very low income ought to entail lower pensions, but that is not the case.


Foreclosures at actual property market rates to start in a month

Apartments, plots of land, stores and office buildings belonging to people or businesses with debts to the tax authorities will soon be auctioned at prices below those used for tax purposes (“objective values”) as the law dictates foreclosure sales at market rates instead of objective values, as in the case of debts to banks.


Bank deposits rise in September 2017

The Bank of Greece (BoG) on Thursday announced that private sector deposits in the country increased by 52 million euros in September, compared to the previous month, reaching 1.047 billion euros in the country. The annual growth rate stood at 4.6 percent on a monthly basis, as capital controls remain in force in the country.


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: Properties to be auctioned at market rates

TO VIMA: Tsipras plays games with social allowances and the change of the electorate system

REAL NEWS: 5-star auctions! The Troika eyes high-value tourism-related assets

PROTO THEMA: Marc Poll: 65% asks for reduction of taxation

AVGI: Objective criteria for public sector mobility and administrative executives

RIZOSPASTIS: The response of workers and the people must be intensified


ETHNOS: The university map is changing

TA NEA: Slow death for the Saronic Gulf due to oil spill pollution

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Scandalous affair involves New Democracy executive who is a close associate of party leader Mitsotakis

KONTRA NEWS: PASOK, the River party and Centrists Union should cooperate with PM Alexis Tsipras and vote in favor of a proportional electoral system in order to secure entry in the next parliament

DIMOKRATIA: New Democracy MP Kostas Karamanlis against Adonis Georgiadis as well

NAFTEMPORIKI: Crucial two-month period for state revenues


It’s not a real month in Europe if there’s no summit. So the EU’s putting on five summits for you over the next seven weeks to make you feel at home. There’s the Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden November 17. Then there’s the Eastern Partnership Summit (with its own logo!) November 24, the EU-African Union summit November 29-30, a December euro summit (with eurozone wannabes invited too) likely to be attached to the Eurogroup meeting in the first week of December, and then the regular EU leaders’ summit December 14 and 15.

COMMISSIONERS ON TOUR: President Jean-Claude Juncker is in Portugal to meet Prime Minister António Costa and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. First Vice President Frans Timmermans is in Greece to receive the Grand Cross of the Phoenix medal and also an honorary doctorate from University of Athens. High Representative Federica Mogherini is in Italy to speak about European defense initiatives. Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis is in Estonia to meet leaders and give a speech on eurozone reform. Commissioner Pierre Moscovici meets Nick Clegg, the former U.K. deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Kenneth Clarke MP and Andrew Adonis (all opponents of Brexit). Commissioner Phil Hogan is in Northern Ireland for the World Dairy Summit.

PARLIAMENT CLARIFICATION — ULRIKE LUNACEK TO LEAVE PARLIAMENT: In Friday’s Playbook we announced Heidi Hautala had replaced Ulrike Lunacek as Parliament vice president, though Lunacek remained an MEP. While that’s true until November 9, we may have given readers the impression Lunacek broke her promise to resign from Parliament when she stood in the Austrian election. That’s not the case — Lunacek is indeed leaving.

DIGITAL POLITICS — SILICON VALLEY ON SEINE: French President Emmanuel Macron is using state cash to foster tech startups, writes Mark Scott, and it’s starting to work. So far this year, French venture funds raised more cash compared to their British or German counterparts, while Macron has won plaudits for promoting startups as a solution to the country’s sluggish economic growth and double-digital rates of youth unemployment. But don’t be fooled; not everything is rosy in France’s tech scene, particularly when it comes to creating billion-euro startups and offering bumper profits to investors.

TRADING DOWN — EU GLYPHOSATE BAN COULD DISRUPT GLOBAL TRADE: If the EU blocks its own farmers from using glyphosate, those same farmers could make it almost politically impossible for Europe to continue importing food grown using the herbicide, write Simon Marks and Giulia Paravicini.



Theresa May stands accused of ignoring Tory MPs’ sexual misconduct and allowing ministers facing allegations of wrongdoing to serve in her Cabinet. Guido published, with names redacted, a spreadsheet featuring 36 serving Tory MPs on a “dossier of shame” being circulated by junior party aides. The Sun reports May now fears for her government and may bring forward a Cabinet reshuffle in light of a growing set of harassment allegations, including against Mark Garnier, a minister at the international trade department, who the Mail on Sunday reports admitted calling his former secretary “sugar tits” and asking her to buy two vibrators at a Soho sex shop. The Sunday Times claims a serving minister placed his hand on the thigh of a female journalist and declared: “God, I love those tits.” Stephen Crabb, a married former Cabinet minister, apologized for “sexual chatter” with a teenager.

Westminster employees are organizing to out harassers via WhatsApp groups, and Labour is urging victims to come forward, Buzzfeed reports. Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, told Andrew Marr on Sunday: “This isn’t a problem for any particular party or faction of a party, it runs right across parliament.”

UK — NORTHERN IRELAND GOVERNMENT DEADLINE TODAY: London will set the country’s budget if Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party fail to reach agreement by the end of today, Reuters reports.


Spanish protest: At least 300,000 marched for Spanish unity in Barcelona Sunday.

Who’s in charge? Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría has become the de facto president of Catalonia. Diego Torres answers your burning questions here.

Madrid fires Catalonia’s EU ‘ambassador’: Amadeu Altafaj told Playbook he is one of more than 140 officials fired by the Spanish government. Unlike all of Catalonia’s delegations abroad, parts the EU delegation office have been retained by Madrid because of the technical nature of EU-related funding and other negotiations, but Altafaj’s role was considered political rather than technical.

Antonio Tajani says ‘No one will ever recognize Catalonia‘: The European Parliament president, speaking to reporters Saturday, said the EU’s position is very clear: “The referendum was illegal … The state of law should be restored,” and no EU country will recognize Catalonia as an independent country.

Asylum in Belgium for Puigdemont? Theo Francken, Belgium’s controversial state secretary for asylum and migration and a Flemish nationalist, told Flemish public broadcaster VRT that Carles Puigdemont, removed from office by the Spanish government last week, could apply for asylum in Belgium. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo shut him down, saying on Twitter such talk was unnecessary.

Graph — How Catalan attitudes have changed: In the past, support for autonomy rather than independence was the most popular position. The independence movement gained ground and peaked in 2013-14. Now the country is deeply divided with no majority for any approach, let alone independence. h/t Eduard Suarez.

GERMANS MAY BE PAID TO CONSUME ELECTRICITY: German power producers were poised to pay customers to use electricity this weekend. Wind generation was forecast to climb to a record on Sunday, Bloomberg reports, creating more output than needed and driving electricity prices below zero. It would be the first time this year the average price for a whole day is negative. h/t Zachery K. Bishop

FINLAND — ANOTHER LOOK AT NATO, WARY OF RUSSIA: With a presidential election in January, Reid Standish looks at how debate about Finnish neutrality is breaking out into the open after decades of studied silence. Moscow’s military assertiveness means the issue of NATO membership, while far from a likely outcome, is no longer taboo.

WHAT POLES ARE TALKING ABOUT: Saving a John Paul II statue in France.

ICELAND — MESSY SNAP ELECTION: In a heavily fragmented vote, Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson’s coalition government appeared to have been defeated, leaving the Left-Green Movement’s Katrin Jakobsdottir, 41, “likely to get a chance to form a narrow majority in parliament,” according to Reuters. The People’s Party is poised to become Iceland’s first populist party to enter parliament with four seats.


Go green or else! The European Commission’s unusually swift move to prepare its Emissions Trading System (ETS) in case of an abrupt no-deal Brexit on March 29, 2019 sends a clear political message to London: We’ll protect our industries and flagship tool for cutting greenhouse gases — at your expense. Sara Stefanini has more for POLITICO Energy and Environment, Brexit and Transport Pros.

The Ex-Files 1: Catherine Day, President Juncker’s EU budget adviser and former secretary general of the European Commission, predicted in Dublin a Brexit deal is possible “unless the madmen intervene.” Bloomberg has more.

The Ex-Files 2: Martin Callanan, former chairman of the ECR group in the European Parliament, is now minister of state for exiting the European Union, replacing Joyce Anelay, the third minister to resign in four months from the UK’s Brexit department (David Jones and George Bridges also resigned). Anelay said she left because of the worsening of an injury sustained in 2015 while jumping out of a black hawk helicopter on an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Ex-Files 3: The European Investment Bank’s Alexander Stubb, a former Finnish PM, said U.K. cash would be tied up in Brussels until 2054 in long-term loans.

EU27 customs teams unprepared for hard Brexitthe FT reports.

Over 100 devolved powers for Scotland after Brexit: David Mundell, the U.K. secretary of state for Scotland, aims to publish a list before Christmas of Brussels powers that will shift to Scotland after Brexit. The government hopes the list of 111 powers to be devolved to Holyrood will ease tensions with Scotland’s governing Scottish National Party, the Herald reports.

Martin Selmayr makes it to popular culture: Watch this clip of ‘Have I Got News For You’ (starting at 2:10). And check out the new podcast on his life and times by BBC Profile. h/t Conor Mescall

Opinion — Australians, interested but not fearful: Clouds hanging over the U.K.’s future relationship with the European Union haven’t hurt Australia’s largest investment bank Macquarie Group’s appetite for the country, according to its chief executive. “We are looking at Brexit with interest but not fear,” said Nic Moore. Meanwhile Alexander Downer, Australia’s high commissioner to the U.K. (and former foreign minister) writes on BrexitCentral: “We think it’s important that the EU and the U.K. both show leadership, by agreeing to a comprehensive, trade-liberalizing agreement.”

Opinion — UK is now the nasty country: Maria Farrell on how Britain no longer feels like home, and is working to turn itself into a nastier country.

READ TO LEAD — HOW TO BE A CEO: Adam Bryant in The New York Times on what he learned from interviewing 525 chief executives through his years writing the Corner Office column.

PODCAST DU JOUR: Towards a post-American Europe? Mark Leonard’s World in 30 Minutes podcast with Jan Techau, director of the Richard Holbrook Forum at the American Academy in Berlin.


EUROPE HEADING FOR CLASH WITH US OVER IRAN: Ellie Geranmayeh for the European Council on Foreign Relations argues Iran is becoming the foreign policy focal point of Europe’s division with Trump’s America. She advises EU governments to prepare legal mechanisms to block renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran, and to work with Russia and China to preserve the core elements of the deal. Read the report.

US — ARREST EXPECTED TODAY IN MUELLER RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: The man investigating Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election is set to prove how serious he is, after CNN revealed charges have been approved. More in The New YorkerTrump lawyers are scrambling to figure out who will end up in handcuffs today.

CHINA — XI EXPANDS COMMUNIST MANDATE: The party now “rules everything,” writes François Godement for ECFR.