EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 07-04-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 07-04-2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tsipras confident of deal at Eurogroup, lenders less so

Friday’s Eurogroup in Malta is expected to reveal whether there will be a breakthrough in Greece’s months-long bailout talks with creditors or a renewed period of ominous uncertainty will be ushered in.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217500/article/ekathimerini/news/tsipras-confident-of-deal-at-eurogroup-lenders-less-so

IMF spox on Greek program negotiations: Progress, but ‘important issues’ remain unresolved

Speaking a day before a Eurogroup meeting in Malta, which for weeks served as the “unofficial” deadline for presenting EZ finance ministers with a staff-level agreement between the Tsipras government and creditors, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice stressed that “important issues” have not yet been resolved.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1222376/imf-spox-on-greek-program-negotiations-progress-but-important-issues-remain-unresolved

Interior Minister hints at 4th memorandum; later says quip taken out of context

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1222452/high-ranking-greek-minister-hints-at-4th-memorandum-later-says-quip-taken-out-of-context.

Ankara issues another NAVTEX, putting Athens on heightened alert

As the trilateral naval exercise Noble Dina 2017, with the participation of Greece, the US and Israel, came to a close Thursday afternoon with a ceremony at the Israeli Navy headquarters in Haifa, Greek military authorities were put on heightened alert after Turkey issued another navigational telex (navtex) saying that one of its research vessels will conduct “scientific exploration” on Friday and on Saturday in a region stretching north to south – from the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Chios down to Icaria in the central Aegean.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217502/article/ekathimerini/news/ankara-issues-another-navtex-putting-athens-on-heightened-alert

Unemployment rate unchanged in January

Greece’s jobless rate remained unchanged at 23.5 percent in January from the previous month, statistics agency ELSTAT said on Thursday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217497/article/ekathimerini/business/unemployment-rate-unchanged-in-january

Privatization fund set to sell 5% stake in telecoms provider OTE

Greece’s privatization fund announced that it was in the process of selecting a consultant for the sale of 5 percent of the telecoms provider OTE’s shares, a stake it currently holds in its portfolio.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1222488/privatization-fund-set-to-sell-5-stake-in-telecoms-provider-ote

ECB keeps Greek ELA ceiling at 46.6 bln euros

The European Central Bank maintained the cap on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) Greek banks draw from the domestic central bank at 46.6 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217496/article/ekathimerini/business/ecb-keeps-greek-ela-ceiling-at-466-bln-euros

ATHEX: Index rises as market waits

With all eyes firmly fixed on Friday’s Eurogroup meeting in Malta, the Greek stock market edged up on low trading on Thursday despite the losses registered by bank stocks.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217503/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-index-rises-as-market-waits

www.enikos.gr


www.protothema.gr

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KATHIMERINI: German President Steinmeier: “Continue the reforms!”

ETHNOS: Unblocking 60,000 new pensions

TA NEA: Roulette game in Valletta

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Maltese falcons

AVGI: Roads of safety, velocity and growth

RIZOSPASTIS: Today we rally against the old and new measures against the people

KONTRA NEWS: PM Alexis Tsipras is determined for snap elections or referendum if no agreement is reached today

DIMOKRATIA: Do the poor own swimming pools?

NAFTEMPORIKI: The pensions that are going to be trimmed by 20%

IMERISIA: New version of online tax-system begins operation

Saturday is International Roma Day, marking the culture and highlighting the often systemic discrimination faced by Europe’s largest ethnic minority. The Commission is choosing an interesting way to recognize the issues, reports the FT’s Duncan Robinson, by repeatedly blocking legal action against Italy for violating its obligations to Roma communities.

US LAUNCHES AIR STRIKES IN SYRIA: The Trump administration has launched a series of missile strikes on Syrian government targets late Thursday, President Donald Trump said Thursday night. The strikes were retaliation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over a chemical weapons attack that left dozens dead, the U.S. president said in a speech.

Latest news | Trump’s Syria U-turn

**A message from the EPP Group: This week we dealt with the damage done by Dieselgate by approving rules and recommendations for doing away with emissions-cheating practices. We also put in place tough new rules to ensure the safety of medical devices and prevent fraud, as in the case of faulty breast implants. Watch more.**

EUROGROUP — ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER SET OF GREEK HOPES AND VAGUE LANGUAGE: Finance ministers meet in Malta today. It’s impossible to tell whether anything useful will come of it: The language around Greek bailout negotiations long ago ceased to have any real meaning.

What we do know is that Athens is under pressure. Greece’s economic indicators are headed in the wrong direction again. PM Alexis Tsipras told reporters: “If there is no white smoke in the Eurogroup on Friday, I have already asked for an EU summit.” Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told Antenna TV: “I think a very positive outcome Friday is very likely.”

Creditors seem more pessimistic, according to Kathimerini. A fight over how to liberalize energy markets — alongside pension and labor market reform — is a key sticking point. More for POLITICO Pro Energy subscribers.

A full-time Eurogroup president, not one who is also a national finance minister, is the way forward for the informal EU body, argues Transparency International.

TEMPERS FLARE AT EU CITIZENS’ DIALOGUE IN ATHENS: In a Facebook post published overnight, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu threatened to sue Romanian media outlets, which misquoted her at an event in Athens Wednesday. Carmen Paun has the full story here.

SCHENGEN ZONE CHANGES FROM TODAY EXPECTED TO CAUSE TRAVEL DELAYS: Worry about homegrown terrorists is prompting tighter controls starting Friday for all those who enter or exit the 26-country Schengen visa-free travel area. Florian Müller has the full details.

PARTY PEOPLE — EPP ANGRY, BUT NOT READY TO KICK OUT HUNGARIAN PM VIKTOR ORBÁN AND HIS PARTY OVER NEW ANTI-CEU EDUCATION LAW AND ANTI-EU MEASURES: While an EPP source told Playbook “there’s a growing group within the EPP group, including the Belgians, Dutch, Luxembourgish but also the Swedish and Finnish as well as a good part of the Germans,” who want Hungary’s Fidesz out of the group, there’s no sign this is really on the cards. The EPP has only a slim lead over the Socialists in terms of MEP numbers and that lead would be cut in half if Fidesz were thrown out.

EPP spokesman Siegfried Mureșan told Playbook the party would discuss the issue at its next meeting, the morning of the EU27 Brexit summit April 29. Maïa de la Baume and Playbook have more details here.

Ties that bind — Hungary’s Fidesz and European Parliament: Brussels Sketch on a history of institutional vandalism perpetrated in Budapest, by Tim King. “It is easy for outsiders to underestimate how deep is the emotional attachment between Fidesz and the EPP, parts of which still set great store by Fidesz’s track record in opposing communism … Orbán becomes increasingly nationalist, autocratic and demagogic … But it still does not follow that the EPP will break definitively with Orbán, who is a past master at testing the boundaries.”

BUDAPESTOLOGY — ANATOMY OF THE HUNGARY UNIVERSITY FIGHT …  

The EPP is known as the most professional of the European party groups. That can make it difficult to assess who is rebelling against the status quo in the increasingly divided party. Here’s how Playbook sees it …

The key dividing lines. Generational: Joseph Daul, who has previously said he speaks with Viktor Orbán daily vs Manfred Weber, who’s happy to tweet that the CEU’s freedom must be defended “at any cost.” Geographical: It’s mainly northern European MEPs who have beef with Orbán.

To tweet or not to tweet: In a party that prizes loyalty, sometimes rebels have to be subtle. Some MEPs will sign open letters against Hungary’s anti-CEU law, as Latvia’s Sandra Kalniete did, or speak out in party meetings, as Gunnar Hökmark did, or blast colleague with an email, as Frank Engel did. Others including Anna Maria Corrazza Bildt, Esther de Lange and Michał Boni contented themselves with retweets of pro-CEU messages.

Pass the buck to the Commission: Joseph Daul, the EPP president, has moved to narrow the issue to one of legality, and hand off responsibility to the Commission, tweeting “EPP relies on @EU_Commission as the guardian of the treaties to assess if changes in HU national higher education Act infringe EU law.”

For the Commission’s part, its president, the EPP’s Jean-Claude Juncker, told reporters: “I don’t like this decision.” First Vice President Frans Timmermans, a Socialist, “strongly endorsed” a statement by his colleague Carlos Moedas condemning the law.

ORBÁN’S NEXT TARGET ARE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS: Straight out of a Russian political textbook, the Hungarian government says it has drafted a new bill that will require NGOs with a foreign income of €23,000 or more to register with authorities. NGOs fear the law could be used to discredit them and shut them down. Many Hungary-based NGOs receive grants from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and speak up for press freedom or defend asylum seekers, a group that has been targeted by Orbán’s government with various restrictive measures.

COMMISSION — EU AND SWITZERLAND AGREE TO RESUME TRADE AND POLITICAL TALKS: Juncker said both sides had agreed to conclude a new framework agreement by the end of the year. Switzerland is the EU’s third-largest trading partner after the U.S. and China.

COMMISSION — HIGHER IMPORT DUTIES IMPOSED ON CHINESE STEEL: Beijing isn’t happy.

PARLIAMENT — ASSAD ALLY INVITED TO PARLIAMENT MONDAY: The European Parliament’s (unofficial) Syria Peace Process Support Group plans to host Ayman Soussan, Syria’s ambassador to the EU, on Monday, angering MEPs and others. ALDE’s Marietje Schaake wrote to Antonio Tajani, calling on him to act. “The only context in which EU officials should speak with Syrian officials is in U.N. led peace talks, or in the context of providing aid to those in need on the ground,” she wrote. Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah has launched a petition to prevent the event from going ahead.

PARLIAMENT — RIGHT-WING MEPs’ LOVE LETTER TO TRUMP: “Policy developments under your leadership, Mr. President, are already very encouraging and exciting,” said UKIP’s Roger Helmer and AfD’s Beatrix von Storch, on behalf of a wider group of MEPs in a letter to Donald Trump.

PARLIAMENT — TAJANI CONDEMNS MURDER OF GAY MEN IN CHECHNYA: “Appalling reports of gay men murdered in #Chechnya. Perpetrators must be prosecuted. @Europarl_EN strongly against discrimination & violence,” Tajani tweeted.

PARTY PEOPLE — EUROPEAN GREENS SEARCH FOR LIFE AFTER DEATH: On top of the usual political swings and cycles, Green parties often find themselves stuck between their heritage as social movements and their potential future as government partners. In many countries — even as candidates start to win presidential elections as Alexander Van der Bellen did in Austria — voters are now also deserting the Greens because their causes have gone mainstream. POLITICO’s environment reporter Marion Solletty investigates.

WHAT NORWEGIANS ARE TALKING ABOUT — A SHIP TUNNEL: Norway will build the world’s first ship tunnel, 36 meters wide and 49 meters high, through a rocky piece of coast, reports Associated Press.

BREXIT CORNER …

Theresa May and Donald Tusk met in London and issued the world’s most boring statements: There’s no better way to turn off a battle cry than to send your audience to sleep. That’s what European Council President Donald Tusk and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May intended and achieved Thursday. They agreed to stay calm, chit-chat and see other soon. The only potential rough patch? Gibraltar. Compare each side’s statement here.

Parliament’s Brexit voices grow, Verhofstadt first among equals: Playbook hears that this week’s conference of presidents meeting in European Parliament agreed on a new structure for the body’s input in Brexit negotiations. There will now be a “steering committee” to guide Parliament’s work, which will include Green-Left’s Gabriele Zimmer, the Green’s Philippe Lamberts, Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), Elmar Brok (EPP) and Roberto Gualtieri (Socialist). Verhofstadt, Brok and Gualtieri will remain Parliament’s representatives for inter-institutional Brexit talks.

REAL BREXIT …

Brits line up for French passports: Official statistics show no major shift in integration or exodus by French citizens in London, but the same can’t be said for pro-European Brits in France, who are taking drastic action to avoid the effects of Brexit.

The cruise to no-man’s land: The mostly older crowd that has booked tickets on a 2019 cruise that will begin while Britain is still a member of the EU and end after it has left the union are among those about to find out Brussels technical meetings can have a big impact on their lives, writes the Independent’s Simon Calder.

Ryanair will redirect its expansion efforts outside the United Kingdom over the coming two years to avoid uncertainty around Brexit.

FRENCH ELECTION COUNTDOWN …

Why Marine Le Pen is cheering Emmanuel Macron: Mujtaba Rahman, the head of Eurasia Group’s Europe practice, says it’s because he is weakest on her strong subjects: terrorism, security and economy. “Macron has not been able to wrap his economic policies into a coherent or compelling narrative … Le Pen’s economic policies may be confusing and less coherent, but she has framed them … in a way that resonates with citizens’ concerns.”

The big question remains: Can Macron get people to the ballot box? The Le Pens have spent more than 30 years priming the French public to vote for them, and can hardly break 25 percent in any poll. Macron in less than one year is polling level with Marine, but has no party infrastructure or public funding to back those numbers up.

The rise of the radical left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon: Reaching highs of 17 percent in opinion polls, Mélenchon has pushed aside the Socialist candidate, who is now polling in single digits. Now it’s a case of Mélenchon rattling François Fillon for third place, and possibly taking votes away from Macron in the process.

Cake watch: Playbook is noticing more politicians than usual wanting to have their cake and eat it. The latest is Fillon on the EU. At times he sounds like Le Pen, at others like Macron. He also wants the Posted Workers Directive to be overhauled, but hasn’t acknowledged that his compatriot and party colleague, MEP Élisabeth Morin-Chartier, is already leading that work.

Final presidential debate canceled: France2 decided to cancel the last presidential debate as top contenders got cold feet.

RUSSIA — PUTIN IS WAKING UP TO THE ‘STREISAND EFFECT’: Vladimir Putin didn’t have much in common with Barbara Streisand … until now. In banning images depicting him wearing lipstick or with make-up, the Russian president will soon find those who create and share such images multiply.

TRUMP WORLD …

Senate and Gorsuch nomination: Senate takes “nuclear” option, ends Democrats’ blockade of Trump court pick.

Steve Bannon’s threat to quit: Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, threatened to leave the White House after clashing with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump effects — Georgia’s ambassador can’t resist complimenting Trump properties.

‘We don’t do soft power.’ That was U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to Greta Van Susteren. Video of the full interview, comments beginning at 8:05.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

Belgium’s favorite vegetable hits European Court of Justice primetime: Endives or chicons?

Late and expensive: the Belgian RER. The final bill for Brussels’ new commuters train network is expected to be €3 billion.

Secure that house! Looks like the Belgian PM has increased security at his residence.

Playbook recommends Plume Air Reporting to keep daily tabs on pollution levels in Brussels, given the levels of smog we’ve experienced in town this week. The free app tells you when walking, exercising and other activities become risky.

**A message from the EPP Group: Brexit will remain high on the agenda of the European Parliament over the next two years, as the EU and the U.K. negotiate firstly the orderly withdrawal of the U.K., then a transitional arrangement, and finally a deal on our future relationship. For the EPP Group, the rights of European citizens come first. In his address to the House, Manfred Weber outlined 7 negotiating red lines that are important for us. Those were reflected in the resolution adopted by the European Parliament that will serve as input to the Council’s negotiating mandate. The resolution will also be the yardstick by which we will measure the outcome of negotiations on the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU. Given the role of the European Parliament in the Brexit process, we certainly hope Theresa May will come to address this House — the invitation has already been extended.**