EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 27-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 27-03-2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tsipras from Rome: Not the EU we envision; must remain in Union to work for change

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent his message for the country’s Independence Day from the Italian capital on Saturday, where EU leaders signed and issued a joint statement on the occasion of a weekend commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.


Creditors negotiators must return to Athens this week in order to meet unofficial April deadline

Creditors’ top negotiators will have to return to Athens this week in order for a staff-level agreement to be achieved by the April 7 Eurogroup meeting, otherwise the delay could extend into May, with the commensurate negative impact on the still-recession plagued Greek economy.


BoG Gov: Weak institutions, pol system’s inability to tell people the truth reason Greece is in bailout

Greek central banker Yannis Stournaras pointed to instability on the part of institutions in the country, as well as a lack of credibility and courage on the part of the domestic political system to “tell the people the truth”, as the primary reasons that Greece has still not ended its dependence on bailout memorandums.


Capital control tightening is a possibility

The capital controls were originally supposed to be a one-off measure that would be removed in a matter of months, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stating in September 2015 that they would be lifted in early 2017. Today, 21 months since they were imposed, the capital controls are still here, and with the drop in bank deposits, it appears more likely they will be tightened than relaxed or lifted.


Greece’s primary surplus in 2016 higher than forecast, says EU official

Eurozone lenders estimate Greece had a primary surplus between 2 and 3 percent of its gross domestic product last year, much higher than the target set under its bailout program and more than previously forecast, an EU official told Reuters on Friday.


Greece gets three bids for Thessaloniki Port

Greece has received three binding bids for a majority stake in its second-largest port in Thessaloniki, the country’s privatizations agency said on Saturday.


EY study: Undeclared income by self-employed professionals in Greece between 57% to 58.6%

Income not declared by self-employed professionals in Greece are estimated at between 57 and 58.6 percent, whereas the corresponding figure for wage-earners is an infinitesimal 0.5 to 1 percent.


ATHEX: Traders realize review talks have gone on for too long

Foreign traders appear to lose their patience with the endless talks between the government and its creditors while the economy’s negative signs do not point to a return to growth any time soon. The Greek bourse felt the impact of this mood on Friday, ending the week in the red.








KATHIMERINI: Europe and Greece at crossroads

TO VIMA: Tsipras fell inside his own trap

REAL NEWS: Sigmar Gabriel: “Things are going to be worse in June”

PROTO THEMA: Nothing will change if Schulz is elected German Chancellor

AVGI: European Union or Roman arena

RIZOSPASTIS: 20th Communist Party Convention: Procedures begin on Thursday


ETHNOS: Extra contribution for 250,000 insured citizens

TA NEA: Justice is restless

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: PM Tsipras: “I will not vote a working Middle-Age”

KONTRA NEWS: The kickbacks of Novartis come to light

DIMOKRATIA: Real estate assets and plots of land axed

NAFTEMPORIKI: Time is running out

ELECTION WATCH — CENTER-RIGHT WINS IN BULGARIA: Exit polls indicate a win for the center-right party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Europe Elects graphed the new parliament.

IN TOWN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will today meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

COUNCIL — JUSTICE MINISTERS DISCUSS MIGRATION: Ministers are gathering in Brussels today to discuss the migration deal agreed February 3 with Libya, the effectiveness of the Commission’s returns policy and new legislative proposals overhauling the EU’s asylum procedures. Agenda here.

**A message from Google: In 2000, one in five children globally didn’t attend school. Today that number has been halved, but too many still aren’t acquiring basic skills. Even after four years of primary education, 130 million children cannot read. To date, Google.org has given over $110 million to educational efforts, and we’re just getting started.**

COMMISSION — JUNCKER AND OETTINGER TO DISCUSS BREXIT BILL: Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger will present his calculation of what the U.K. will owe the EU on departure from the bloc, Der Spiegel reported. “It will probably boil down to a high double-digit billion amount,” said Oettinger.

COMMISSION — VIOLETA BULC’S (KIND OF) FREE INTERRAIL PLAN. The European Commission is gearing up to launch its version of a youth mobility initiative today — just don’t let anyone hear you call it “free InterRail.” The pilot is called “Move2Learn, Learn2Move” and will see around €2.5 million earmarked for getting students moving around Europe. Eligibility is neither limited by age nor to rail travel, as MEPs wanted, but is also much smaller than they were hoping for.

The Commission quickly realized that doling out InterRail tickets to all 18-year-olds in the EU would carry a multi-billion euro price tag and have airlines and long-distance bus operators up in arms. The Commission’s clear message to MEPs with the pilot phase: We support your enthusiasm, but you’ll have to figure out a better way to do it if you want more cash.

COMMISSION ON TOUR — VESTAGER IN AMERICAN ANTITRUST ‘TWILIGHT ZONE’: Aoife White reports that Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager still has no U.S. counterpart to meet. Instead, when she visits the U.S. this week she will speak to almost 3,000 lawyers and officials at the American Bar Association, a key event in the antitrust world. Separately, Neighborhood Commissioner Johannes Hahn is in Beirut to discuss the implementation of the EU-Lebanon Compact.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs DISCUSS SECURITY WITH FRENCH, GERMAN MINISTERS: MEPs on European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs will discuss the EU’s security situation with German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and his French counterpart Matthias Fekl.

PARLIAMENT — HEARING ON EU’S ACCESSION TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVENTION: MEPs will hear from Sahiba Gafarova, the Council of Europe’s lead representative, on issues relating to violence against women and the state of play of the 2011 Istanbul Convention.


Rome Declaration, alive on arrival: The final version signed on Saturday morning is here. The text sounded consensual, even if Poland is still hesitant on formalizing the idea of a multi-speed Europe, writes POLITICO’s Florian Eder. The weekend show of unity may seem like a minor achievement, but an achievement it was given a year of Brexit and rising right-wing populism. Keeping up appearances was no small order.

Donald Tusk’s very personal speech: The president of the European Council delivered on Saturday a very personal speech on what Europe means to him. “Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all. Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world.” Full speech here.

Quote du jour: “More than half my life I lived behind the Iron Curtain,” said Tusk. “It was forbidden to even dream about those values. That really was two-speed Europe.”

Opinion — Why Europe cannot survive unchanged, by Manfred Weber and Guy Verhofstadt.

How the Rome Summit and 60th anniversary played: VoxEurop’s Simon Pickstone has a recap of how major media outlets marked the EU’s 60th anniversary. Meanwhile, thousands in London protested over the weekend for Europe (and against a hard Brexit).

Playbook’s short history guide to the EU’s 60-year rollercoaster ride.

SPOTTED: Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at March for Europe in Brussels. Michał Boni MEP with this great pic of the Waraw pro-EU march. High Representative Federica Mogherini on a Ryanair flight back from Rome EU60 celebrations to Brussels on Saturday night.

GERMANY — MERKEL’S CDU WINS IN SAARLAND: Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) won 40.5 percent of the votes, 10.5 percent ahead of the Social Democrats (SPD), which finished on 30 percent. Far-left Die Linke managed 13 percent and populist right-wing Alternative for Germany, which entered the state parliament for the first time, on 6 percent, according to exit polls by Infratest Dimap.

Takeaway: There’s a minimal ‘Schulz effect’ in regional elections for the SPD. The party improved in polls since former European Parliament President Martin Schulz was named its candidate for chancellor, but only enough to roughly match its 2012 vote, not take votes from the CDU.


Poll watch: Recent surveys by both BVA/Orange and IFOP/Fiducial continue to put Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in a statistical tie (he averages one point more, within the poll margins of error).

On the right: Le Pen gave an interview to Le Parisien and went on a rampage against François Fillon, calling him a man who “loves money.” POLITICO Nicholas Vinocur has more.

And on the left: Libération published interviews with both Benoît Hamon’s backer and economist Thomas Piketty and Piketty’s counterpart for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Jacques Généreux, to highlight their differences on Europe, how to tame austerity reforms and the euro’s future.

Fishermen hear Marine Le Pen’s siren call: Disillusioned with Brussels, many French fishermen appear ready to throw in their lot with the far right — if they vote at all, writes Kait Bolongaro. That’s despite the fact their interests often collide with Le Pen’s nationalist, Euroskeptic agenda. “Several fishermen insisted that departure from the EU could undermine their business, and some also stressed the importance of being able to hire migrant crews, including Africans.”

French presidential election insights: Dan Healy has presented new findings from FTI Consulting about what French voters think of the EU, how committed they are to their candidates, and where first round votes will flow in the May run-off. Full presentation here. Top points: Macron’s supporters are the most pro-EU and also the least certain they will stay with his campaign until the end.

UK — DOUGLAS CARSWELL, UKIP’S ONLY MP, QUITS PARTY: You can see from this video of Carswell debating Brexit at the Brussels Forum with Carl Bildt (moderated by Playbook), that he’s more a fan of Theresa May than Nigel Farage.

NORTHERN IRELAND — POWER-SHARING TALKS BREAK DOWN: Sinn Féin has chosen not to nominate Michelle O’Neill, its leader in Northern Ireland, as deputy first minister, dealing a blow to talks that would have restored Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government. “Today we have come to the end of the road,” O’Neill said in a statement after Sinn Féin said Monday’s deadline to form a new coalition would not be reached. The Guardian’s Henry McDonald reports: “One option for the British and Irish governments who are overseeing the talks would be to hold fresh elections just weeks after the previous electoral contest in March. Another would be to impose direct rule on the region from Westminster.”


Memo from Spain to Scotland: You’re not special. The message from Madrid couldn’t be clearer: Scotland will have to apply to join the EU like everyone else if it chooses independence. “But Spain’s stance is not as hardline as the U.K. prime minister’s closest advisers insist,” write Diego Torres and Tom McTague. “According to senior figures in the Madrid government, Spain is not saying it will indefinitely block an independent Scotland re-joining the EU but neither has it agreed this might be possible.”

Welfare clampdown proposed for EU arrivals in UK after Wednesday: The Department for Exiting the European Union has recommended that the three million EU migrants in the U.K. before May triggers Article 50 should keep their rights to claim welfare. Those who arrive after Wednesday would not get benefits if the proposal is accepted by cabinet, reports Tim Shipman.

Labour to set six key Brexit tests: Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, will deliver a speech today setting out six tests for May to meet, including a requirement that any agreement delivers the U.K. the “exact same benefits” as the single market and customs union. Good luck with achieving that!

Brexit revives Sinn Féin campaign for United Ireland: Despite the fact Northern Ireland voted by a majority of 56 percent to 44 percent in favor of staying in the European Union in the Brexit referendum, Sinn Féin’s call for a vote on creating a united Ireland is meeting resistance on both sides of the border, writes Ken Murray. “The largest party that supports a united Ireland, Fianna Fáil, accuses Sinn Féin of trying to fool the public. Darragh O’Brien, a TD (member of the Dáil) who is Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on foreign affairs, called it … ‘a short-sighted measure that would set back any potential for a united Ireland.’”

Brexit means guarding the (British) union: The Telegraph reports that the country’s most senior civil servant tasked with saving the union from Scottish independence, Philip Ryecroft, will move into the Brexit department to study every Brexit decision to make sure it does not undermine the union. Theresa May travels to Scotland today to meet with Nicola Sturgeon in an effort to keep the United Kingdom united.

What happens when you swap young migrant workers for your own retirees: Cabinet ministers warned the social care crisis could be exacerbated if British pensioners return from abroad over Brexit.

And the loser is environmental protection: A lack of European Court of Justice oversight would potentially undermine environmental law enforcement in the U.K.


Leaked copy of EU Brexit timeline: According to this timetable from a Commission source, the first key meeting of EU ambassadors following Theresa May’s Article 50 letter will be March 31, with the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines to be ready for final consultation April 19. Ministers will meet for the first time on April 27 in Luxembourg, and national leaders at a scheduled EU27 summit on April 29. More here.

POLITICO’s Sunday Crunch provides highlights of Sunday news shows and papers in the U.K. here.


— A conference poll showed 90 percent of U.S./European thought leaders have little or no confidence in China’s Xi Jinping.
— Only half of Western thought leaders think the U.S. would uphold NATO’s Article 5 in the face of a Russian invasion.
— Confidence ratings for U.S. President Donald Trump is 13 percent; Germany’s Chancellor Merkel 92 percent.
— John McCain had three pieces of advice for Trump.

RUSSIA — PROTESTS AGAINST CORRUPTION IN 80 CITIES: Russian police detained Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin critic who wants to take on Vladimir Putin in next year’s presidential elections, during the largest nationwide protests for more than five years, in around 80 cities, that saw at least 500 people detained. Pics of the protests here. h/t Alex Kokcharov

POSTCARD FROM UKRAINE’S FRONTLINE: Lily Hyde on Ukrainian and Russian prisoners who languish in legal limbo, waiting for prisoner swaps. “The problem is, at heart, semantic … no country — including Ukraine — or organization has officially called the fighting that has cost nearly 10,000 lives what it really is: a war. As a result, prisoners are not considered prisoners of war as defined and protected by international humanitarian law.”

CHINA — A FINANCIAL HOUSE OF CARDS? So the OECD believes, reports the Wall Street Journal.


Trump handed Merkel ‘outrageous’ NATO bill: U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel a bill for money supposedly owed to NATO when they met last weekend in Washington D.C.

Are Priebus’ days numbered? POLITICO’s Tara Palmeri reports that a source close to the president says he is being advised to replace Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff.


Kraainem Football Club leveling playing field for refugees: Taylor Blatchford on the sports team just outside Brussels that’s helped 300 refugees find new connections in their new country.

Regional spat over firearms trade: Alexander de Croo, the Flemish center-right minister, has called on Wallonia to stop selling arms to countries like Saudi Arabia.

Ireland in Brussels: Tech journalist Jennifer Baker is running the @Ireland Twitter account for a week starting today. Baker “will be trying to educate the whole country on why Brussels IS important,” she told Playbook.