31-07-2017 | EYE ON GREECE | EU

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 31-07-2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Athens’s early market return not productive, says IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) considers an early return by Greece to capital markets as counterproductive, according to reports from Washington.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220514/article/ekathimerini/business/athenss-early-market-return-not-productive-says-imf

Government under fire over ‘amendment tsunami’

Main opposition New Democracy lawmakers walked out of a parliamentary debate Friday in protest at what conservatives described as a “tsunami” of last-minute amendments to a bill submitted by the Finance Ministry.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220492/article/ekathimerini/news/government-under-fire-over-amendment-tsunami

Social security debt grows

Arrears to social security funds increased by 827,180,068 euros in the second quarter of the year, due to people’s inability to keep up with existing debt settlement plans and the fatigue of those who until now had been able to meet their obligations.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220495/article/ekathimerini/news/social-security-debt-grows

Former PASOK minister found guilty of money laundering

An Athens court has found Tassos Mandelis, a former socialist transport minister, guilty of money laundering.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220471/article/ekathimerini/news/former-pasok-minister-found-guilty-of-money-laundering

Start price for 7 nationwide broadcast licenses set at 35 mln€ by independent authority

The start price for seven nationwide broadcast licenses in Greece was set on Friday at 35 million euros by an independent watchdog authority, according to a letter sent to the relevant minister by the former’s board members.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1262841/start-price-for-7-nationwide-broadcast-licenses-set-at-35-mln-by-independent-authority

Cosco wants to hold Piraeus port authority BoD meetings in China, Hong Kong; Greek fund awaits legal opinions

The “honeymoon phase” in relations between Chinese multinational Cosco and Greece’s privatization fund (HRADF) regarding the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), which the former assumed last August, appears to have encountered its first “hiccup”, as the Greek agency has voiced objections to a proposal modifying PPA’s charter.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1263102/reports-cosco-wants-to-hold-piraeus-port-authority-bod-meetings-in-china-hong-kong-greek-fund-awaits-legal-opinions

Companies leaving Athens stock market in droves

The crisis may have battered the local economy but has benefitted to a great extent the Greek stock board’s quality: For the first time since 1997 the number of ATHEX-listed companies is below 200, at 197.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220503/article/ekathimerini/business/companies-leaving-athens-stock-market-in-droves 

ATHEX: Stock gains evaporate at local bourse

After three southbound sessions the main stock index at Athinon Avenue looked as though it would regain some ground on Friday, only to come up against a lack of the buyers required to sustain such a rebound. Consequently, as was the case last Friday, the benchmark ended down on the week.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/220496/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-stock-gains-evaporate-at-local-bourse

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: Greek universities head back to 1982

TO VIMA: Code: “Red tempest”. Banks are ‘sweeping’ 75 large businesses with debts exceeding 10 billion Euros

REAL NEWS: Private investors are going to be handed the best assets owned by social security funds

PROTO THEMA: Interview with Finance Minister Giannis Varoufakis: “I’m asking for a special court” [ to examine the 2015 negotiations with the creditors]

AVGI: Time for the government to address the needs of society

RIZOSPASTIS: Capitalists return to the international markets while the Greek people suffers from never-ending austerity policies

MONDAY PAPERS

TA NEA: The Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos is shamed by the lowering of the tax-threshold limit for lower incomes

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Primary Healthcare System undermined

KONTRA NEWS: The great fraud of bankers, speculators and oligarchs regarding red loans

DIMOKRATIA: Survival guide from the tax-office’s notices

NAFTEMPORIKI: New round of challenges in the September –  December period

FRANCE — ITALY DISPUTE SHOWS REAL MACRON AND FRANCE’S NEW GAULLISM: French President Emmanuel Macron and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire’s formal decision to block the takeover of Chantiers de l’Atlantique — one of the world’s largest shipyards — by Fincantieri, an Italian company, is part of a “Gaullist” renaissance in France, Le Maire said Sunday in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche. Jakob Hanke of POLITICO’s Morning Trade newsletter breaks it down.

Investment screening and trade defense: The state should shield strategic industries from market failures and unfair competition, Le Maire said.

State industrial safety net trumps creative destruction: “The state has to pay heed not to let capacities that could still be profitable disappear,” Le Maire said.

I don’t trust you but let’s cooperate: “We will tell our Italian friends: let’s also look at what we can do in the military sector … and let’s build a big champion of Europe’s naval industry,” Le Maire said.

Fears of technological transfer to China: Italy’s Fincantieri has a joined venture with China to build cruise ships.

More on Italy losing patience with France, from Voice of America, and from AFP’s Christian Spillman.

WHO’S SERIOUS ABOUT HOSTING THE EUROPEAN MEDICINES AGENCY? The EMA will be leaving London after Brexit, and 23 countries say they want it. But who’s really serious? Helen Collis and Carmen Paun offer you the full guide.

Spoiler alert: Five of the bidders haven’t even visited the agency in London (Hungary was first to visit).

EMA tower? Italy is touting the 1958 Pirelli tower in Milan, while Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Slovakia have offered large, custom developments.

Politics is crippling Portugal’s bid: Lisbon might be hosting Eurovision next year, but it won’t be the EMA’s new home, after the Portuguese government swapped its capital for Porto as its bid city. That’s despite the fact it spent all year campaigning for Lisbon. Paul Ames explains why the country is killing its chances.

Everything you need to know about the EU agencies leaving London because of Brexit: What do the European Banking Authority and European Medicines Agency do? Cat Contiguglia, Helen Collis and Carmen Paun explain.

COMMISSION FORMALLY LAUNCHES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST POLAND: The European Commission launched a so-called infringement procedure against Poland by sending a “letter of formal notice” following the publication in the Polish Official Journal of the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organization on Friday, July 28. The Polish authorities have one month to reply.

COMMISSION — IRISH COMMISSIONER DUMBFOUNDED BY UK BREXIT APPROACH: European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said Britain’s approach “beggars belief.” That view is allied with an increasingly annoyed Irish government. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned over the weekend that Ireland will not play any role in reintroducing a border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and that the U.K. is on its own in coming up with a solution.

OLAF — EU ANTI-FRAUD CHIEF LEAVING TO LEAD ITALIAN CUSTOMS AGENCY: Giovanni Kessler’s term at OLAF is due to end in early 2018, and it’s not clear when he will take up his new role. Carmen Paun has the details.

TECH MEETS POLITICS — TRANSATLANTIC DATA DEAL HEADED FOR A STORM: The EU-U.S. “privacy shield,” which allows U.S. firms to transfer Europeans’ data across the Atlantic, is popular with companies — about 2,000 have signed on. Even the Trump administration avoids attacking it. Still, not even a year old, and the agreement could come crashing down due to court challenges, reports Mark Scott.

NATO CONDEMNS LATEST NORTH KOREAN MISSILE LAUNCH.

GERMANY — SPD TRAILS 14 POINTS BEHIND MERKEL’S CDU: Germany’s Social Democrats, trailing in the polls eight weeks ahead of the country’s parliamentary election, fired up attacks Sunday on Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Conservatives.

HUNGARY — FIDESZ BOYCOTTING PARLIAMENT HEARING THEY DON’T LIKE: Today the Hungarian parliament’s National Security Committee was due to discuss a recent POLITICO article on Western allies’ worries regarding Russian intelligence operations in Hungary, Hungarian participation at a Russian training facility in Serbia, and concerns about the data security of the Wi-Fi system at the just-completed World Aquatics Championships.

That was until Fidesz Vice President Szilárd Németh said his party’s MPs won’t attend the hearing, claiming American financier George Soros had called it (Soros is not an MP and did not call the meeting — an opposition MP did). “Fidesz will not assist the Soros committee meeting and attack on Hungary,” Németh said. That move will deprive the meeting of a quorum. Németh previously prevented the head of Hungary’s civilian intelligence agency from testifying before the committee in April.

BELGIUM — NEW WALLOON GOVERNMENT STARTS WORK: It’s the first full day for the new government of Wallonia. Willy Borsus (MR) is the new prime minister, replacing Paul Magnette.

ESTONIA — HOW TALLINN BECAME THE PLACE TO BE FOR US LEADERS: In recent years, Estonia has played host to some of the U.S.’s most senior leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence, who visited Sunday, Senator John McCain (December), Senator Lamar Alexander (June) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (April). Andrew Hanna explains why here.

CYPRUS — ANKARA MOVES TO ALLOW GREEK CYPRIOTS TO CROSS BORDER: Despite the failure of U.N.-brokered talks to reach a deal to unite Cyprus, Ankara is moving to allow Greek Cypriots across the border as well as to open the abandoned town of Varosha. Ekathimerini has more here.

BREXIT CORNER …

September slowdown: Playbook’s national diplomat sources hope Brexit negotiations progress in the August 28-31 round of talks because they’ve all but written off September as a month of British navel-gazing, during the country’s political party conference season.

Japan’s biggest bank could set up EU HQ in Amsterdam: MUFG eyes a hub in Amsterdam to cope with Brexit.

Spotted: U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis and European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt hanging out together at the Silverstone car racetrack in England.

Fox says no agreement on transition deal: U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox came out Sunday to say there is no Cabinet agreement on free movement between the EU and U.K. for a transitional period after Brexit. Eurasia Group’s Mujtaba Rahman wrote to clients: “While a consensus is emerging in Cabinet on a transitional period that lasts until the next election in 2022, there is no agreement on its nature, and certainly no acceptance that it will simply prolong the status quo.”

What’s looking most likely, says Rahman, and Playbook agrees, is a policy shift towards British acceptance of “a customs union that will maintain regulatory alignment with the EU in the short-term with the choice of deviation over the longer-term.”

Antitrust angst for the UK: The EU does nearly all the U.K.’s toughest competition enforcement, but that won’t be the case after Brexit. To help get ready for the extra heavy lifting, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority has appointed Andrea Coscelli, an Italian economist, as CEO. It will now have to battle for more top staff in order to handle its new workload (it will be fighting against the European Commission itself, which is the traditional home for antitrust high-flyers).

EFTA fix: The U.K. will mimic European Free Trade Association rules in search for a Brexit court fix, writes Matthew Holehouse (who also has a Brexit podcast here).

SERBIA — BRNABIĆ DOESN’T WANT TO BE LABELED ‘GAY PM’: Ana Brnabić, the 41-year-old recently appointed as Serbia’s prime minister, doesn’t want to be known just for her sexual identity. “Serbia is changing and changing fast, and if you will, I am part of that change, but I do not want to be branded ‘Serbia’s gay PM,’” she told the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour.

UKRAINE — COMMON ENEMIES OF PUTIN, NO LONGER FRIENDS: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision to strip Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who found a new political home in Kiev, of Ukrainian citizenship was the latest twist in a personal relationship that goes back to their student days, writes David Stern.

RUSSIA — US TOLD TO MASSIVELY DOWNSIZE EMBASSY STAFF: President Vladimir Putin ordered the U.S. embassy in Russia to lose 755 staff, a mix of Americans and locals. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted about the practical implications of the move: “Russians should expect to wait weeks if not months to get visas to come to U.S.”

RUSSIA — MOSCOW ELITE WAIT FOR END OF MEDVEDEV, PLAN LIFE POST-PUTIN: Alexander Baunov writes for the Carnegie Moscow Center: “Everyone in Moscow is currently expecting the impending resignation” of PM Dmitry Medvedev. And, Baunov writes, “Most Russians agree that Putin’s next presidential term is likely to be his last. In a fight over the fate of a performance at the Bolshoi, we’re witnessing the beginnings of the struggle for post-Putin Russia.”

REAL EUROPE — A REALITY CHECK FROM MEDIA ON ACADEMIC STUDIES.

TRUMP WORLD — NEW CHIEF OF STAFF, SAME PROBLEMS: U.S. President Donald Trump has a new chief of staff, John Kelly, whose job is to stabilize the White Houses’s West Wing. The neo-conservative writer Bret Stephens wonders how the “No guardrails presidency” came to pass, and how the conservative movement embraced the vulgarity it long opposed. Josh Dawsey and Eliana Johnson: “Inside the end of the Priebus era.