31-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

31-01-2018 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Former PM Simitis sees chance for FYROM solution, rejects national populism

Former prime minister Costas Simitis is warning against the effects of national populism in addressing Greece’s differences with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and expresses the belief that the current confluence of events is favourable for a settlement with Greece’s northern neighbor.

http://news.in.gr/english/article/?aid=1500194819

Church backs ‘Macedonia’ rally as name talks edge forward

As the United Nations mediator in the “Macedonia” name dispute left Athens for Skopje on Tuesday, Archbishop Ieronymos shifted stance and said that the Church of Greece will join a major rally scheduled for Sunday in Athens to protest the use of the term “Macedonia” in any agreement.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225387/article/ekathimerini/news/church-backs-macedonia-rally-as-name-talks-edge-forward

DIW Berlin Institute head predicts Greek debt ‘haircut’ in 2018

The head of the influential DIW Berlin Institute was quoted this week as saying he predicts a “haircut” of the Greek debt this year, in fact.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1316347/diw-berlin-institute-head-predicts-greek-debt-haircut-in-2018

Message of remembrance, peace at Thessaloniki’s Holocaust Museum groundbreaking

“The Holocaust Museum of Thessaloniki will be a perpetual reminder, a continual SOS for current and future generations,” said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new museum, which was attended by visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

http://news.in.gr/english/article/?aid=1500194616

Greece below Venezuela at top of wealth loss list

Greece comes second only to Venezuela on a recent list of countries that have seen their fortunes change dramatically in the decade from 2007 to 2017.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225371/article/ekathimerini/business/greece-below-venezuela-at-top-of-wealth-loss-list

ATHEX: Bank stocks, mid-caps take fresh pressure

Jitters ahead of the beginning of the bank stress tests today and the decline seen across eurozone markets led the Greek bourse to losses of more than 2 percent on Tuesday, with the credit sector taking a heavy beating.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/225377/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-bank-stocks-mid-caps-take-fresh-pressure

www.enikos.gr


www.protothema.gr

www.newsbomb.gr

www.cnn.gr

www.newsbeast.gr

KATHIMERINI: The rally on the ‘Macedonian’ issue will take place with the blessing of the Greek Orthodox Church

ETHNOS: The fears of the Greek Police about the upcoming rally on the ‘Macedonian’ issue

TA NEA: Rapes, drugs and smuggling: Greek universities have become ghettos of illegality

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Historical documents of 1977 show that then PM Konstantinos Karamanlis had acknowledged the existence of a ‘Macedonian’ language

AVGI: Main opposition New Democracy bows to nationalistic and populist voices

RIZOSPASTIS: Call for fight on the issues of collective labor contracts and auctions

KONTRA NEWS: Where did the money stolen from political parties go?

DIMOKRATIA: Controls for 600,000 uninsured vehicles

NAFTEMPORIKI: Crucial month for banks

President Trump copies NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg: Or rather, did Trump’s Davos speechwriter Gary Cohn copy NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg? On January 26, we heard Trump say in Davos that “America First” does not mean “America alone.” Rewind to February 2017 and here is Stoltenberg at the Munich security conference: “A strong Europe cannot mean Europe alone. Just as I don’t believe ‘America First’ means ‘America alone.’” Full speech here. (h/t Minna Skau)

AROUND THE EU INSTITUTIONS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT KLAUS IOHANNIS IN TOWN: The visit from the center-right president, who is regularly at loggerheads with the Social Democrat government, comes a week after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his henchman Frans Timmermans warned the Romanian parliament over controversial justice reforms. He’s due to speak alongside Juncker as well as meet Council President Donald Tusk. Press conference at 2:30 p.m.

Tusk congratulates new Romanian PM Viorica Dăncilă: The key theme is Tusk highlighting the importance of rule of law and “irreversible progress in the fight against corruption, in line with the high expectations of Romanian society” in his congratulations letter. Dăncilă’s Cabinet includes 15 new ministers out of 27, and is the country’s third government in a year.

Court strikes down elements of justice reform: The Romanian Constitutional Court on Tuesday struck down some parts of the controversial justice laws passed by the Romanian parliament in December, which triggered protests because they would allow some types of political corruption to go unpunished, according to local news agency Mediafax.

Anti-graft prosecutor stands firm: Laura Codruța Kövesi, chief prosecutor at the National Anti-corruption Directorate, is holding her ground against attempts to undermine her credibility. “I’ve been working in the prosecutor’s office for 22 years and in these 22 years I’ve never had a disciplinary action against me. Quite randomly, last year, when the attacks on justice started, several complaints ex officio appeared against me,” she said in an interview.

COMMISSION COLLEGE TODAY — DATA FLOWS AND WATER FLOWS: European commissioners are due to approve draft language covering data flows in trade agreements when they gather for a college meeting today, two EU diplomats briefed on the discussions told POLITICO. A draft copy of the Commission’s Drinking Water Directive obtained by POLITICO’s sustainability reporters, and to be unveiled today, shows that the Commission is willing to mandate measures to increase access to water, which has been considered the prerogative of member countries.

The draft directive follows the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative, known as “Right2Water,” back in 2014. And today’s draft directive includes measures such as improving access by setting up and maintaining outdoor and indoor water taps in public spaces, encouraging the free provision of water in restaurants, canteens and by catering services, as well as in all public buildings.

The Commission will also adopt a proposal for regulation on health technology assessments, with the goal being to get new medical tech into patients’ hands quicker. Vice President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis will hold a press conference at noon. Watch live on EbS.

COMMISSION TO GOVERNMENTS: YOU’VE GOT A WEEK TO GET REAL ON AIR POLLUTION. Ten governments have until the end of next week to submit their plans to bring down air pollution levels to those laid out in EU law. “There were some positive suggestions, but not substantial enough to change the bigger picture,” said Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella. “I urge all member states to address this life-threatening problem with urgency. Inaction has legal consequences.”

COMMISSION EXPRESSES SURPRISING SURPRISE AT VW SCANDAL: The EU claimed it was surprised at this week’s VW toxic emissions test scandal. Why? The monkeys were a curve-ball, but VW has been embroiled in scandal and cozy oversight from its Nazi-era birth to its current refusal to compensate millions of European consumers for the effects of the Dieselgate scandal. The real surprise would be if VW cleaned up its act and severed its cozy government links. Change is slowly arriving: VW suspended its chief lobbyist Tuesday and in parallel, Matthias Wissmann will be replaced as the head of the country’s influential Association of the Automotive Industry from March.

COUNCIL — STANDOFF OVER FINANCE MARKETS REGULATOR: France backs upgrading the role of the Paris-based European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which is critical to the French capital’s push to become the EU’s post-Brexit financial center. Others aren’t keen, writes POLITICO’s Fiona Maxwell.

PARLIAMENT CORNER …

Tajani in Serbia: European Parliament President Antonio Tajani is today in Belgrade to meet Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, President Aleksandar Vučić and Ivica Dačić, the foreign affairs minister and leader of the ruling Socialist Party who on Tuesday received “the Order of Friendship” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pittella on his replacement: Gianni Pittella, leader of the Socialists & Democrats, will give a press conference at 2:30 p.m., explaining the process by which his successor will be chosen if he wins a seat in Italy’s March 4 election.

Party presidents refuse to discuss Portugal’s Centeno affair: The EPP tried and failed to have party presidents discuss today whether a police investigation that touches Eurogroup President Mário Centeno affects his leadership of the EU’s most opaque institution, according to Playbook’s Parliament source.

EPP on the future of the eurozone: The center-right EPP group wants a “fully fledged European Monetary Fund” and a bigger EU budget, according to a draft position paper obtained by POLITICO’s Florian Eder. EPP MEPs are set to discuss and adopt the policy today. The money should “assist with the convergence of non-euro member states” and “accompany the enforcement of structural reform.” Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party, will give a press conference on the proposals at 4 p.m.

EMA — ITALY APPEALS AGENCY RELOCATION TO AMSTERDAM: Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, said that Italy would lodge an appeal against the decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency to Amsterdam, which doesn’t have an appropriate temporary building ready to house it. Dutch Health Minister Bruno Bruins told Playbook: “The process leading to the decision was fair and square. We are currently doing our utmost to ensure a swift move to Amsterdam.” Health warning: It’s election season in Italy, and it’s getting nasty in the Lombardy regional election, scheduled for the same day.

EUROZONE — FINNISH FINANCE MINISTER BACKS REFORMS: “Finland might face a choice,” said Petteri Orpo, Finnish finance minister, in a speech. “Should we take the road to deepening integration or should we put on the brakes? To me, the answer is absolutely clear. We have to choose to be in the group that takes the road to deepening European integration despite the possible short term pinch.”

BY THE NUMBERS — EUROZONE GDP GREW 2.5 PERCENT IN 2017.

EU NATIONAL NEWS

ITALY — CENTER LEFT IS DOING OK, BUT VOTERS WANT CHANGE: Giuliano Ferrara writes for POLITICO that Italian politics ahead of the March 4 election has suddenly become very interesting. “The numbers — job creation, investment, productivity, income, consumer spending and lower taxes — all favor the center left. The job has been done, and as a consequence … Renzi’s reformist Democratic Party is highly unpopular. Meanwhile, the 5Star Movement has failed over and over again — the mismanagement of the country’s capital being just one example. And thus … they are enjoying a surge in public support.”

HUNGARY — ORBÁN-KURZ BROMANCE: The leaders of Austria and Hungary held talks in Vienna on Tuesday and pledged to continue their crackdown on illegal migration. “We must stop illegal migration in order to ensure safety across the bloc,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The Hungarian leader said “the biggest threat today” was the “mass exodus [to Europe], which some simply refer to as a question of migration.” Kurz ruled out Austria joining the Visegrád Group, saying it was a “media debate.”

GERMANY — SPD, CDU AGREE ON REFUGEES: Germany’s ruling parties cleared a key hurdle on Tuesday in talks to form a new coalition with an agreement on new rules for admitting the relatives of war refugees into the country.

SWEDEN — CHINA WANTS TO BUILD HIGH-SPEED LINK TO NORWAY: China is interested in building a high-speed railway linking Stockholm and Oslo.

BREXIT 360°

MAY’S NO QUITTER: Theresa May overnight vowed to fight on as U.K. prime minister in the face of mounting criticism from within her Conservative Party. “I’m not a quitter,” May said on board an RAF Voyager en route to China for a three-day visit on Tuesday, reports POLITICO’s Tom McTague, who is on-board with the PM. May said there was “a long-term job to be done” and insisted she was the person to do it. “That job is about getting the best Brexit deal, about ensuring that we take back control of our money, our laws, our borders, that we can sign trade deals around the rest of the world.”

BRUSSELS TO BRITAIN — JUST TELL US SOMETHING, ANYTHING, YOU ACTUALLY WANT: The U.K.’s position on a post-Brexit relationship with the Continent is so vague that it is preventing Brussels from drafting detailed negotiating guidelines for the final phase of talks, EU officials said Tuesday — potentially endangering the chances of an eventual deal. Annabelle Dickson has the story for POLITICO Brexit Pro subscribers.

Memo to Britain: For the few people still paying attention to the intricacies of Britain’s internal Brexit debate, it’s weird the government is debating whether to publish its Brexit economic analysis. Creating and publishing such analysis is a standard practice in advanced democracies and among OECD member countries. The longer the government debates the inevitable (publication by leak, or by official upload) the less time it has to negotiate with the EU.

ICYMI — GOVERNMENT ANALYSIS SHOWS UK WILL BE WORSE OFF IN ALL LIKELY BREXIT SCENARIOS: The U.K. will be worse off after leaving the European Union in every likely scenario, according to a secret report prepared by the British government and published by BuzzFeed Monday.

BEYOND EU

US — STATE OF THE UNION: In his first State of the Union address to Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump struck an upbeat, optimistic tone, focused on immigration and infrastructure and promised to move forward with a “clear vision and a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans.” Read all about it here.

SOTU in a tweet: “There is a country whose leader is being investigated by an agency that’s being investigated secretly by a legislator who was on the leader’s transition team, which that agency is investigating for colluding with a nation that’s subject to sanctions the leader refuses to enforce,” that’s from Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics.

RUSSIA — US RELEASES OLIGARCH LIST: The Treasury released a hotly anticipated list of 210 Russian officials and billionaires believed to have close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, exposing them to scrutiny and potential future sanctions. Officials have since admitted that at least part of the list is based on a Forbes magazine rich list.

Pride and Prejudice: If you want to read about why Jane Austen’s themes are the wrong baggage to bring to the Russia geopolitics table, Joe Dobbs, in his outgoing paper for the European Leadership Network, explains.