EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 06-04-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 06-04-2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

EU, Greece seek bailout deal by Friday

Greece and its international lenders remained at odds in talks to release fresh bailout loans to Athens on Wednesday as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said a deal was needed this week and accused creditors of ‘playing games’ and causing delays.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-greece-idUSKBN17717R?il=0

Greece to carve out slice of energy pie

The deal signed on Monday between Greece, Israel, Cyprus and Italy in Tel Aviv for the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) gas pipeline, is, according to sources, a reaction to the competing Nord Stream II pipeline connecting Germany and Russia.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217467/article/ekathimerini/news/greece-to-carve-out-slice-of-energy-pie

Order to free ex-minister tied to high bail

A judicial council on Wednesday ordered the release from prison of former defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos because of his frail health in response to the latest in a series of appeals lodged by the veteran Socialist politician.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217465/article/ekathimerini/news/order-to-free-ex-minister-tied-to-high-bail

Golden Dawn official remanded over attack on student

A 42-year-old member of Golden Dawn charged in connection with the beating of a 24-year-old student last Friday was remanded in custody on Wednesday after defending himself before an investigating magistrate.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217463/article/ekathimerini/news/golden-dawn-official-remanded-over-attack-on-student

Fitch tells ECB there are limits to pressure on banks

Fitch said on Wednesday that European Central Bank guidance calling for eurozone banks with high levels of nonperforming loans (NPLs) to set “ambitious” time-bound quantitative NPL reduction targets could, in extreme cases, push the weakest banks closer to a formal resolution process, triggering losses for senior bondholders.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217459/article/ekathimerini/business/fitch-tells-ecb-there-are-limits-to-pressure-on-banks

PPC ‘runs risk of sudden death’

Greek enterprises are particularly worried about the state of the electricity market, the uncertainty over the sustainability of Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the government’s unrealistic plans for enhancing competition, as statements by the head of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) illustrated on Wednesday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217471/article/ekathimerini/business/ppc-runs-risk-of-sudden-death

Greek lenders trim NPEs to 104.8 billion euros

Greek banks’ exposure to doubtful and nonperforming loans edged down in the fourth quarter but still made up half the sector’s overall loan book, the central bank said on Wednesday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217460/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-lenders-trim-npes-to-1048-billion-euros

ATHEX: Bank stocks pay no mind to grim reports

After four sessions in the red, bank stocks staged a notable recovery on Wednesday, shaking off negative reports on the local credit sector by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Standard & Poor’s. The prospect of a deal with the country’s creditors edged closer and fueled a late surge in prices that offset earlier losses.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217470/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-bank-stocks-pay-no-mind-to-grim-reports

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www.newsbomb.gr

www.cnn.gr

www.newsbeast.gr

KATHIMERINI: Playing with fire in the negotiations

ETHNOS: New changes in forest maps

TA NEA: Who is beating round the bush?

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Agreement or EU Summit

AVGI: Everything points at Malta’s Eurogroup meeting

RIZOSPASTIS: The agreement which is going to attack the people should be not e treated with tolerance

KONTRA NEWS: No more dirty games at the expense of Greece

TO PONTIKI: PM Tsipras on the edge

DIMOKRATIA: All constructions in forests will be legalized in 100 installments

NAFTEMPORIKI: Draft for a painful agreement

IMERISIA: Agreement or rupture

EXCLUSIVE — FIRST INTERVIEW WITH NEW SERBIAN PRESIDENT: For Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić, the road to EU membership runs through his Balkans region. He told Matthew Karnitschnig in his first interview since winning the presidency that his top priority is finalizing a free trade zone covering Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.

Top quote: “I don’t hide anything. When I go to Moscow I always say we’re on our EU path and we would like to preserve the best possible political and economic ties with you. That’s exactly the same that I say in Washington and in Brussels.”

Story here | Full interview here

MUST READ — THE MYSTIC MAN IN BEIRUT FUNDING TOP NGOs IN BRUSSELS: Ayman Jallad makes his money selling tractors made by the multinational giant Caterpillar from a warehouse 18 kilometers north of Beirut. He’s also carrying out a crusade against the European Commission, which he says is “controlled by multinationals,” by funding some of Brussels’ loudest NGOs, like Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of the Earth. Harry Cooper and Giulia Paravicini have the scoop.

AS FRANCE GOES, SO GOES THE EU: Paul Taylor on why French voters hold the Continent’s future in their hands. “It is no exaggeration to say that a Le Pen victory could deal a fatal blow to the eurozone and the EU, which can survive a Brexit but would be mortally wounded by a Frexit … France, unlike Britain — which joined the EU late and was always semi-detached — has been a central pillar of European construction from the outset. Its passions and tantrums have dictated the tempo and shape of integration.”

COUNCIL — MERKEL AND KENNY MET TODAY: Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as part of a broader tour promoting Irish exports, will be in Berlin for a meeting with the German chancellor. According to the chancellery, the pair will discuss “topical European as well as international issues.” That is the seven-word version of “Brexit.”

COUNCIL — COMPETITIVENESS MINISTERS MEET IN MALTA: They’re set to discuss how to boost opportunities for start-ups, having spent last night at the Casino Maltese in Valletta. Hopefully not too many hangovers.

**A message from the EPP Group: Numerous people were detained following protests on Belarusian Freedom Day on 25 March. We condemn the crackdown and call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the peaceful protesters still detained, as well as to uphold basic rights and democratic principles. If the situation deteriorates, the EU should consider reintroducing targeted sanctions.**

SYRIA DONOR CONFERENCE WRAP: In 2016 governments pledged $12 billion to help rebuild Syria. A year later there’s not much to show for it — underscored by this week’s horrific deadly chemical attack and ongoing fears that the Tabqa dam wall near Raqqa will break — and donors pledged barely half as much in Brussels Wednesday.

Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran did not attend the press conference after the event, reinforcing a sense of hopelessness among participants. Jacopo Barigazzi and David Herszenhorn captured the mood and the news.

Trump changes tack on Syria: While the U.S. government wasn’t matching its earlier cash promises Wednesday, President Donald Trump did change his rhetoric when facing the press pack in Washington. “Their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated,” Trump said. “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line.”

Fleeing Syria in a wheelchair: “‘Why did you bring her?’ people wondered with surprise and shock,” writes Nujeen Mustafa, a disabled woman from Aleppo, describing the moment she got onto a boat taking her from Syria.

PARLIAMENT — TAJANI TO MAKE PLENARY STATEMENT AGAINST HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE IN RUSSIA: At the request of a cross-party delegation of MEPs, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani will make a statement this morning condemning a wave of violence targeting gay men in Chechnya, Russia. Around 100 known members of LGBTI communities have been reported missing. The MEPs who requested action are the EPP’s Christofer Fjellner, S&D’s Seb Dance, ECR’s Ian Duncan, ALDE’s Fredrick Federley, the Greens’ Bas Eickhout, EFDD’s Ignazio Corrao, and GUE/NGL’s Malin Björk. Read the correspondence with Tajani here.

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT: Votes to confirm wholesale market rules underpinning the abolition of mobile roaming surcharges in the EU, and visa-free travel for Ukrainians. Agenda here.

HUNGARY, THE COMMISSION AND THE EPP …

The debate over a new Hungarian law that targets the country’s Central European University (CEU), founded by billionaire American-Hungarian financier George Soros, is getting heated.

Massive fight brewing inside the EPP: The Hungarian EPP delegation sent a long email to all EPP MEPs (seen by Playbook) comparing complaints about the new law to a “virtual reality” created by “the propaganda and private agenda of the American billionaire Soros.” They went on to claim the Hungarian government is a victim of “the present unfortunate world of fake news and propaganda.”

Frank Engel, a Luxembourg EPP colleague of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wrote back: “Forget the crap. We know what is happening, and why. The ONLY reasonable question is: why don’t you leave both the EPP and the EU on your own terms?”

Zoya Sheftalovich has the full story.

Manfred Weber narrows his Hungary options: Just before the fight broke out, EPP chief Manfred Weber tweeted that “Freedom of thinking, research and speech are essential for our European identity. EPP Group will defend this at any cost. #CEU.”

The obvious question now that EPP divisions are out in the open: Does “any cost” extend to punishing or expelling Hungary’s Fidesz party?

The Commission conundrum: The EU has few legal powers when it comes to regulating education. It also needs to preserve unity on critical issues like Brexit, and Hungary is notorious for upsetting fragile unity fronts. Yet if it does nothing on the question of academic interference, the Commission’s credibility may crash.

That’s one reason why you are seeing individual commissioners breaking ranks to condemn the law, including the man in charge of EU-funded research, Carlos Moedas. The Commission as a whole is treading carefully and will next week discuss what, if anything, they are willing to do, based on a Commission legal analysis.

The ex files — former European top dogs line up against new Hungarian law: ECFR published an open letter denouncing the Hungarian government’s law, signed by Alexander Stubb, Emma Bonino, Javier Solana, Marek Belka and others.

THE BULGARIAN CONNECTION TO THE HUNGARY SITUATION: With Hungary’s government a near-permanent thorn in the side of EU institutions, the Bulgarian government is the only Central or Eastern European government loyal to the EPP. Bulgaria enjoys an outsize level of Brussels influence as a result. This is illustrated by the Commission’s tolerance of Bulgaria’s empty chair at the Commission table.

The EPP has lost its grip on the European Council (just two of the 15 biggest EU governments are led by EPP members) and Jean-Claude Juncker has never had close ties to the newer EU member countries. The EPP, therefore, can’t afford to lose Bulgaria. That, according to Playbook’s senior Commission source, is one reason why Juncker and his chief-of-staff Martin Selmayr have allowed Bulgaria to leave the Commission seat formerly held by Kristalina Georgieva unfilled for more than three months.

Ordinarily, Bulgaria would get no favors for such behavior: it is a small country creating an inconvenience, and when Georgieva quit, she left a trail of personal criticisms of Juncker and Selmayr in her wake. When Bulgaria gets a decent new Commission portfolio, and Boyko Borisov next gets a special kiss from Juncker, you’ll know why.

IN TOWN — SWISS PRESIDENT AND SENEGALESE FOREIGN MINISTER: Juncker is set to meet President of the Swiss Federal Council Doris Leuthard. Mankeur Ndiaye, Senegal’s foreign minister, is due to meet EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW … KAI MYKKÄNEN, FINNISH TRADE MINISTER, ON PRESIDENT XI’S VISIT: China had one message to deliver during a stopover in Finland on the way to meet the Trump administration: Trade works.

President Xi Jinping met with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, and ministers, delivering the small and open Nordic economy good news on topics as diverse as winter sports and climate change.

Finland’s Trade Minister Kai Mykkänen spoke with Playbook about Xi’s visit. Mykkänen said that while China needs to change its steel subsidies, Finland wouldn’t stand in the way of the country getting the market economy status it seeks from the EU. He added that the EU should “use the same trade defense instruments for all partners.” Full interview on the Playbook Plus blog.

ECA — AUDIT OF ANTI-RADICALIZATION POLICIES TO LAUNCH TODAY: The European Court of Auditors will announce the start of an audit of EU measures against radicalization.

WINNERS OF EU CULTURAL HERITAGE PRIZE ANNOUNCED: The European Commission and Europa Nostra have announced 29 laureates from 18 countries, recognizing their work in cultural preservation and celebration.

EUROPEAN SPEECH OF THE WEEK: European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans delivered the Carlos de Amberes Foundation commemorative lecture in Spain. The breadth and length of it is quite something — it’s a feat that he weaves so many thoughts into the text and still sounds coherent.

BREXIT CORNER …

Commission promoting new Brexit website: The content is limited for now, but includes latest speeches and an organizational chart for its “TF50” Brexit team. Interestingly, users are encouraged to follow chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier’s twitter account for latest news.

EPP borrows from Trump with new Brexit message: “Europe’s citizens come first,” according to a banner tweeted by the EPP group.

Germany the latest country to tell Britain to ‘keep calm and carry on’: First it was Spain tut-tutting over London’s Brexit hyperventilation. Now it’s Berlin telling the U.K. to pull itself together. Indeed, writes Janosch Delcker, “The Germans remain Germanically impassionate, unimpressed by what were perceived as poorly veiled threats regarding security and trade.”

The danger of Brexit red lines: Peter Mandelson has taken aim at Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating strategy, “framed by a series of red lines which, on the face of it, will severely restrict her negotiating flexibility.”

British commissioner breaks his Brexit silence … a little: Julian King has finally had something to say about Brexit, according to a transcript of remarks he made to an Irish think tank Wednesday. “It is in everyone’s interests that the U.K. and the EU continue to cooperate closely on counter-terrorism and counter-cyber … There will be some legal and practical constraints to what can be achieved after the U.K. ceases to be an EU member … Ireland is a special case in the Brexit equation and the European Commission will take its very special interests to heart.”

BREXIT EFFECTS — GYMNICH DATE MOVED: The world’s most ridiculously named ministerial meeting, the “Gymnich” gathering of EU foreign affairs ministers in informal clothes, is being shunted to April 28, because of a clash with the special EU27 summit on Brexit.

MEDIA MOVES …

EU gives €2 million to two news websites: Two rival data news hubs, backed by some of Europe’s biggest journalism outlets, will start operating this year.

$100 million for investigative journalism: A charity group established by Pierre Omidyar, the philanthropic eBay and First Look Media founder, is donating $100 million dollars to boost investigative journalism and combat hate speech, reports the Washington Post.

LUXEMBOURG — SIZE MATTERS AS JUNCKER SPLASHES EU CASH FOR MICRO-BUSINESSES: Luxembourg’s smallest entrepreneurs are in line for €5 million under the banner of an initiative called “Microlux.” Given the fact that more bank profits are booked in Luxembourg than in the U.K. and Germany combined, it’s odd that none of that cash seems to make its way to small businesses in the country, and that EU money is needed to plug the gap.

TRUMP WORLD: Today is all about the high-stakes meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping. In the background, President Trump removed his senior strategist Steve Bannon from the U.S. National Security Council.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

HOW ONE YOUNG BELGIAN BECAME RADICALIZED: CNN’s Clarissa Ward interviewed Belgian citizen Michael Younnes (formerly Delefortrie) on why he converted to a radical ideology, is prepared to kill and wishes he could live under an Islamic caliphate.

IDEALIST QUARTERLY: Hear from Latvian journalist Rita Rudusa about the fight against fake news from 7 p.m. at Le Chemin des Vignes, near European Parliament. Details here.

CHANGING ROLES: Amanda Russo is leaving IHS Markit on April 21 for a position with the World Economic Forum press team.

**A message from the EPP Group: We are happy to be able to support today the deal giving Ukrainians the right to freely travel in the EU without visas. The European Union and Ukraine are strategic partners for a safer, more stable and more prosperous Eastern neighborhood. Adopting the visa waiver for Ukrainian citizens is an important step in strengthening Ukrainian society by bringing people together and building bridges beyond borders. By striking this deal on Ukraine, we confirm the principle under which every country that achieves the benchmark criteria set out by the EU, should benefit from the visa liberalization regime. According to our spokesperson on the issue, Mariya Gabriel, the visa liberalization process has been very effective in implementing ambitious reforms in Ukraine, specifically in the areas of security, justice and fundamental freedoms — all benefiting Ukrainian citizens in their day-to-day lives.**

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