EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 08-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 08-03-2017

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

German Finance Minister says Greece must decide if it wants to stay in euro zone

Greece must decide whether it wants to remain in the euro zone, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Tuesday, adding Berlin is open to discussing debt relief for Athens in 2018 if such a step is needed.


Labor market liberalization a ‘stumbling block’ in talks between Athens, creditors

Labor sector liberalization is reportedly the most difficult chapter broached in ongoing talks between the leftist Greek government and representatives of institutional creditors, negotiations aimed to finally conclude the now utterly delayed second review of the third bailout program.


Mitsotakis in Brussels on Thurs; says March 20 deadline for review deal difficult

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) president Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be in Brussels on Thursday to participate in a summit of the European Peoples’ Party (EPP), the center-right grouping in the European Parliament.


Eurobank subsidiary gets permit to manage NPLs

Eurobank Financial Planning Services (FPS), is the second bad-loan management firm to obtain a license from the Greek authorities to operate in the local market. It follows the permit issued to Cepal, a joint venture by Alpha Bank and Aktua.


DESFA head ‘hiked lump sum payout’

It appears that the former head of gas grid operator DESFA, Sotiris Nikas, granted himself a promotion that boosted his retirement lump sum by 100,000 euros to 258,000 euros, according to a question tabled in Parliament by New Democracy deputy Constantinos Skrekas, who is a former development minister.


Cosco presents investment plan to minister; wants support to overcome ‘red tape’

The new Cosco-led management of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) has reportedly requested increased support by the Greek government, and specifically from the relevant maritime ministry, in order for the Chinese multinational’s massive investment plan for the port to be rapidly implemented.


Anastasiades blames Turkey for impasse in Cyprus peace talks

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has blamed Turkey for an impasse in talks to reunify the Mediterranean island which were interrupted last month in a row over a decision by Greek-Cypriot lawmakers to honor the 1950 “enosis” referendum seeking union with Greece.


Greek farmers clash with police in Athens during reforms protest

Greek farmers clashed with police in central Athens on Wednesday when a protest against tax and pension reforms mandated by the country’s multi-billion-euro bailout turned violent.







KATHIMERINI: President of Greece’s natural gas company, DESFA gave himself promotion and raise his one-off bonus

ETHNOS: Judicial investigation revealed only misdemeanors about collecting societies

TA NEA: Insured persons are missing

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Greece is reaching to agreement with IMF, difficulties are following

AVGI: WikiLeaks reveals agents’ gadgets

RIZOSPASTIS: Anti-popular escalation in “democratic packaging”

KONTRA NEWS: The “gift” to parliament members and mayors to be canceled

DIMOKRATIA: Huge amounts of imports work like noose for Greece

NAFTEMPORIKI: Heading to technical agreement

IMERISIA: Banks in protective net

OUCH: “€60 billion did I say? Make that €62 billion.” Just when relations between London and Brussels over cash couldn’t get any more awkward, along comes the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF with a fine of €2 billion after it found U.K. authorities turned a blind eye to a massive fraud network that allowed ultra-cheap Chinese goods to flood into Europe. Giulia Paravicini has the scoop. On a day when the U.K. government publicly sets out its plan to balance the books, this is a slice of news they could do without.

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SPREADSHEET PHIL: In the U.K., Chancellor Philip Hammond will stand up in the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon to deliver his first budget. Overnight, the Treasury gave the brief that Hammond would give “an upbeat assessment of the future of the British economy” outside the EU. Here are some things to watch out for:

LONG TERM: Remember, this is just the first of three big financial “moments” the Treasury is preparing for. Still to come is Britain’s final EU divorce cheque which will be thrashed out later this year. Then there’s the autumn budget, which Treasury insiders say will be the major fiscal event of the year.

KEEP CALM, CARRY ON: Just as important as the things Hammond does say are the things he doesn’t. The chancellor is keen to avoid any suggestion that Britain is vulnerable to a delayed, Brexit-induced economic storm. Over the weekend, Hammond portrayed reports that his Budget would carve out a £60 billion Brexit resilience fund as merely routine prudence. For the closest advisers of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, this is exactly the message they want to send: Britain can afford to walk away without a deal. The small print of the budget will tell us how much the U.K. really does have left in its coffers.

SCOTTISH WORRIES: With the Scottish National Party (SNP) snapping at the government’s heels over Brexit, the Treasury will unveil a series of measures designed to boost the Scottish economy — and with it, they hope, their chances of stopping a second independence referendum. Hammond will unveil plans to tweak the tax system to boost Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry — a big priority for Fiona Hill, the prime minister’s Scottish joint chief of staff.

TAX HIKES: An ever-increasing number of British workers are opting for self-employment — and with it lower taxes. By some estimates, there will soon be more self-employed workers in Britain than in the public sector, leaving the Treasury with a shrinking tax base. Business insiders expect a consultation on tax changes rather than an immediate hike but watch this space.


COUNCIL — It may be May’s last European Council before triggering Article 50 but, for once, all the drama is not about Britain. Ahead of this week’s summit, where European Council President Donald Tusk is widely expected to be reappointed to a second two-and-a-half-year term, the Polish government has asked EU leaders to meet in person with Jacek Saryusz-Wolski — Warsaw’s designated challenger against Tusk

COUNCIL — The fight is causing May a diplomatic headache. Poland’s foreign minister has demanded British support for their candidate. The country is a key ally in Brexit negotiations, but May is loath to alienate the other 27 countries. The Daily Telegraph has the story.

COUNCIL — ANTI-TERROR MEASURES SIGNED OFF: MEPs voted in favor of a new anti-terror law last month, with the European Council doing the same on Tuesday.

PARLIAMENT — MEPS VOTES SHOW FUTURE IS DIVIDED: The website Vote Watch shows MEPs are as divided as their leaders back home on the EU’s future.

COMMISSION — The weekly college of commissioners meets Wednesday to discuss the Council’s conclusion. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is also expected to share his vision on the upcoming Rome summit.


LORDS DEFIANT: Will someone rid me of these turbulent peers? In the topsy-turvy world of Brexit politics, with Labour backing the government on Brexit, it is the Lords which is acting as the opposition. On Tuesday, peers voted in favor of giving a “meaningful” parliamentary vote on the final terms of withdrawal.

The British government already suffered a defeat in the House of Lords last week, with peers calling for the rights of EU nationals living in the U.K. to be protected after Article 50 is triggered.

UPSHOT: The two amendments can be reversed when the bill returns to a vote at the House of Commons, expected to take place next week. May is still expected to have the numbers to knock down both amendments next week.

TARZAN: Not many politicians can claim to have been sacked by a prime minister at the age of 83 but then Lord Michael Heseltine isn’t really any regular politician. The Conservative grandee was one of 13 Tory rebels on the “meaningful vote” amendment. In a barnstorming speech in the House of Lords, Heseltine said Parliament must be “the ultimate custodian of our national sovereignty” and put May on notice that the “fightback starts here.”

ANOTHER TROUBLESOME PEER: Speaking of departed Tory ministers, POLITICO’s Helen Collis spoke to the former U.K. government minister Jim O’Neill who became the first and only minister to walk out of May’s government five months ago. At the time, he was conciliatory. No longer, it seems. The former Goldman Sachs chief economist is scathing. The interview is peppered with words like “depressing,” “madness,” “embarrassing.” Do read.

MAY UK ELECTION: In Westminster, all the talk is of a snap general election. Former Conservative Party leader William Hague set hares running Tuesday with a newspaper column making the case for an early vote before the Brexit negotiations get tricky. In private, Tory MPs and their aides make the case that May will never get a better time to crush Labour and give herself the mandate to negotiate with Brussels from a position of domestic dominance.

Here’s the deal:

May has pledged, repeatedly, that there will be no election until 2020.

Number 10 believe part of her domestic appeal is that she’s seen as honest and straightforward. Reneging on this would wreck that.

However, there are significant figures in government who believe an early election could work. In private, Hammond has made the case for a snap election, one senior ally close to the Chancellor told POLITICO. However, he believes it probably has to happen now or not at all until 2019 at the earliest, the MP said.

There is a window. After triggering Article 50, the EU 27 will thrash out a response over about three months, diplomats expect. This gives the prime minister enough time to call a general election, having set Britain on course to leave the EU, calling for a mandate to negotiate the best deal.

She has the excuse. Having promised a vote on the final deal — and facing pressure to go even further by the Lords — May could ask voters to give her a majority in the Commons to force through a hard Brexit by raising the specter of a treacherous parliament rejecting the will of the people.

NEW ALLIANCE: With talk of a snap election back in fashion, those who want to see closer collaboration between left and center parties spy an opportunity. Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, told POLITICO this week that he sees his pro-EU ‘More United’ movement as a “midwife organization” — the “baby” being “political alignment” of the government’s anti-Brexit enemies — maybe even a new left-center party. “Who knows what will happen over time but what we are already doing is giving political force to the idea,” he said. Ashdown, who came close to getting a Lib-Lab pact with Tony Blair in the 1990s, said that the temptation for May to hold an early election was now “irresistible” and called on Labour, the Lib Dems and other “progressive” parties to communicate and collaborate, in the way he and Blair did, ahead of any vote.

MEANWHILE … CORBYN WOULD WIN AGAIN: Having angered many pro-Europe left-wingers by rolling over and giving May carte blanche on Brexit, new polls and declining membership figures show a decline in popularity for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.


GERMANY’S TURKISH MISSTEP: The growing hostility between Berlin and Ankara plays into the hands of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while hurting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reports Zia Weise. 

HARDLINE BUDAPEST: Hungary approves mandatory detention of all asylum seekers.

ECJ ASYLUM RULING: EU judges in Luxembourg ruled Tuesday “member states are not required, under EU law, to grant a humanitarian visa” to people who intend to apply for asylum once they enter the country.

SATELLITE LAUNCH: Sentinel-2B was successfully shot into the sky from French Guyana as part of the EU’s Copernicus observation program.


DOMESTIC ABUSE: Mumsnet, the popular U.K. website, has a good budget scoop. May reveals plans for a £20 million fund to be made available to tackle domestic violence and abuse in Britain, which will be unveiled in Wednesday’s budget.

VOTES FOR WOMEN: In the U.K. budget, Hammond will also mark the upcoming centenary of legislation giving women the right to vote, with a £5 million fund to educate youngsters about its significance.

ISTANBUL PROMISE: In Europe, 50 women die every week from male domestic violence. To mark IWD, more than 25 European-wide networks and NGOs dedicated to social justice have told EU decision-makers to hurry up and sign the Istanbul Convention, an agreement drawn up by the Council of Europe Convention on preventing violence against women.

BEAT THE STREET HARASSERS: Ask any woman if she’s been cat-called, grabbed or threatened while walking around — it has happened in Brussels. Google is working with the Belgian organization Touche Pas À Ma Pote to curb the problem. A discussion will be held Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Google offices: last-minute registration is still possible here.

WOMEN ON BOARDS: Think back to 2011 when Viviane Reding asked companies to sign the “Women on the Board Pledge for Europe.” Six years later, little has changed. On average, less than 24 percent of board members of the largest publicly listed companies in the EU are women.


SCANDAL, SCANDAL: If it’s Wednesday, it’s time for a revelation and Le Canard Enchaîné has another story on conservative candidate François Fillon and his finances. This time, it’s about a €50,000 loan he supposedly received from a billionaire.

POLL: The latest IFOP survey released Tuesday shows Le Pen is leading at 26.5 percent, Macron at 25.5, Fillon at 18.5, Hamon 14. The poll also shows a regional preference for the first time.

THE MACRON PLAN: Renaud Thillaye, a Frenchman from the Policy Network based in London, dived into Macron’s ideological ambiguity in Social Europe.