EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 13-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 13-03-2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

General Budget Office: Greek econ recovery ‘not automatic’; reforms, liberalization immediately needed

Parliament’s independent General Budget Office on Friday issued another high-profile warning regarding the still shrinking Greek economy, saying any recovery “will not be automatic”.


 Tsipras says he’s asked Lagarde to clarify IMF’s position; says agreement possible by March 20

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday told EU counterparts that the crisis-battered country does not need continuing austerity, but rather a boost in its growth prospects. Furthermore, he revealed that he is in contact with IMF chief Christine Lagarde, “it is true that I requested that the Fund clarify its position (on the Greek program) and not to waste time… I requested that the IMF’s commitment not come on an ala carte basis … we need to reach a solution on the (debt) problem,” he told reporters.


Lagarde insists: Greek debt must be restructured

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde again touched on the intricate negotiations revolving around the Greek bailout program – and with the second review still delayed – reiterating that the Greek debt must be restructured.


Another double-digit lead for ND over SYRIZA in latest opinion poll

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party continued to enjoy a comfortable double-digit lead against ruling SYRIZA party in the latest opinion poll published in the country. Specifically, ND was preferred by 31 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by the Opinion Poll firm and published by the conservative-leaning Athens daily “Eleftheros Typos” on Sunday. Leftist SYRIZA was preferred by 14.5 percent of respondents — meaning a 16.5-percentage point lead for the center-right party. Similar to previous polls, ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) polled 6.7 percent; the Communist Party (KKE) 5.6 percent and a PASOK-led socialist grouping 5.5 percent.


Out-of-court settlement system to include debts to state

Any enterprises that had expired debts to the banks or the state at the end of 2016 will be able to enter the government’s extrajudicial mechanism for the settlement of arrears and get one last chance to stay in business. Although several technical details remain to be settled with the country’s creditors, the main points have already been agreed on, including the provision that the mechanism will be able to accept enterprises (including personal ventures) with total debts of 20,000 euros or more. These enterprises will also be able to restructure any debts they run up in 2017 and 2018.


Exports start year on a high, rising 24 pct

Greece’s external trade has started the year with a rise, and the balance remains positive even when certain factors that distort the real picture of exports and imports are excluded. The total value of exports in January 2017 came to 2.12 billion euros, against 1.71 billion in January 2016, posting an increase of 23.9 percent. According to the Panhellenic Exporters Association, most of that massive increase was due to the delivery of new ships from Asian shipyards, while the valuations of fuel imports and exports at considerably higher rates in the first month of the year also played a role.


Cross-checking system of bank accounts and incomes is good to go

The improved electronic system for cross-checking bank deposits and incomes is set to start operating in the next few days. The tax registration codes of some 1.2 million taxpayers and corporations will be thoroughly checked and the results will be out within just two days.


Greek cruise sector to battle decline at Seatrade

Managers of Greek ports (including Piraeus’s Cosco) and entrepreneurs in the local cruise tourism sector are battling to contain the anticipated drop in cruise traffic this year and to correct the country’s course in 2018. This week all eyes will be on the global cruise industry’s biggest annual rendezvous, Seatrade Cruise Global 2017, which opens today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.








KATHIMERINI: Real economy on the verge of derailment

TO VIMA: Citizens refrain from buying milk!

REAL NEWS: “Shield” plan for 5 islands threatened by Turkey

PROTO THEMA: 150,000 NPL holders have vanished

ETHNOS: Free day-care stations for everybody

TA NEA: Labour vertigo hits SYRIZA

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Erdogan provokes while Europe is divided

AVGI: Funds and tools for restructure

RIZOSPASTIS: Government-Troika-Capitalists calculate their gains. It’s time for the people to do the same.


KONTRA NEWS: Holland humiliated the Sultan as well

DIMOKRATIA: Erdogan attacks Europe

NAFTEMPORIKI: Uncertainty functions like a land-mine

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: Happy Commonwealth Day (said no one, ever, until now)! Fifty-two nations of the former British empire are officially marking those ties today, and Brexiteers will use the day to talk about a glorious free trade future outside the EU. In related news, the next Commonwealth summit will be held in the U.K., not Vanuatu, after a cyclone severely damaged the Pacific island nation’s infrastructure, the British PM is set to announce today.

We’re likely to spend the week skipping across the globe: From the traveling EU circus heading to Strasbourg today, to Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble visiting Washington Tuesday, then back to the Netherlands for Dutch elections Wednesday. Theresa May could trigger Article 50 any day, but Europe-Turkey relations may explode, giving Brexit some competition for column inches.

PARLIAMENT — THE WEEK AHEAD IN STRASBOURG: The top VIP speaker this week is Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, on Wednesday morning. The big debates will be on conflict minerals and shareholder rights. Tighter food inspection rules as well as new gun controls should be agreed. Full day-by-day agenda details and web-streaming links here.

2018 Budget estimates today: Secretary General of the European Parliament Klaus Welle’s estimates of the 2018 Parliament budget will be voted on by the bureau, Parliament’s executive committee, today. Playbook broke the story of the budget plans in February.

PARLIAMENT — RESULTS OF MEP POWER LIST RECHARGE: In Friday’s Playbook we asked you to vote for the MEP you believed had been overlooked in POLITICO’s 2017 MEP power list. From a shortlist of 21 MEPs, Dita Charanzová, a Liberal Czech MEP, was the clear winner. In second place, another Liberal: the Netherlands’ Marietje Schaake. The rest of the list was left in the dust. Of note: defeated European Council president candidate Jacek Saryusz-Wolski got just five votes out of 685 (less than 1 percent).

Despite a last-minute campaign by Vicky Ford (one of the British MEPs excluded from the list because of Brexit — see leaked email here) to get European Conservatives and Reformists MEPs and staff to vote for her and other ECR members, all the group’s candidates combined scored less than Charanzová. The same goes for the four British MEPs on the shortlist. Full voting results here.

**A message from the EPP Group: A year after the Brussels attacks and on our initiative, the EP will discuss the EU’s security using the new instrument of topical debates. We will also make the case for the European Defence Union, which is already a legal possibility, and welcome the freeing-up of the 700 MHz frequency for 5G. Check here for more.**

COUNCIL — THE EFFECTS OF POLAND’S SUMMIT STAND: “EU takes a huge step forward,” concluded Der Tagesspiegel. “As the day the EU remembered its capacity to act — thanks to Jarosław Kaczyński! … A country that tried to use blackmail tactics for domestic reasons that had nothing to do with Europe’s common interests. In this case it was Poland. But this will be a lesson to others, too.”

NATO — ANNUAL REPORT RELEASED TODAY: NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg will publish his review of 2016 at 12:30 p.m. Brussels time (watch live or follow via #SGReport on social media). Playbook’s NATO source says Stoltenberg will outline how the alliance has responded to a tougher security environment, and will appeal to statistics geeks with a pile of new facts and figures, including on defense spending. Stoltenberg is expected to hammer home U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand (and the existing commitment by NATO members) for fairer burden-sharing between the U.S. and Europe and Canada.

EUROPOL — CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS ON THE RISE: According to the EU police agency Europol, more than 5,000 international organized crime organizations are operating in the EU, up from 3,600 estimated in 2013.

PARTY PEOPLE — SOCIAL DEMOCRATS MEET IN BERLIN TO DISCUSS FIGHT AGAINST POPULISM: Progressive Alliance’ convention began gathering Sunday in Berlin (not the be confused with the usual congress of the Party of European Socialists) and continues today. Heads of government in attendance include Stefan Löfven (Sweden), Paolo Gentiloni (Italy), Christian Kern (Austria) and António Costa (Portugal), as well as German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schulz, the Social Democrats’ candidate for chancellor in Germany’s September general election.

PROTEST PEOPLE — SMALL PRO-EU RALLIES IN 40 CITIES SUNDAY: Playbook can hear the howls of complaint from people who attended the rallies for describing them as small, but the biggest turnout was 2,500 protestors.

TRADE — EU-ASEAN RESTART TRADE TALKS: More good news for Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. The EU and the 500 million-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed Friday they would start preparations to relaunch stalled trade talks. Meanwhile, the FT reported that a civil war has broken out within the White House over trade policy.

ITALY SHOCKER — THE RAPE AND SLAVERY PROPPING UP SICILIAN FARMING: This is a must-read from Lorenzo Tondo and Annie Kelly. “Hidden among fields of flapping white plastic tents across Ragusa province, 5,000 Romanian women like Bolos are working as seasonal agricultural workers. Their treatment is a growing human rights scandal, being perpetrated with almost complete impunity,” write Tondo and Kelly. “More than half of all Romanian women working in the greenhouses are forced into sexual relations with their employers. Almost all of them work in conditions of forced labor and severe exploitation.”

ITALY — THE ‘SOFT REVOLUTION’ WITH A HARD EDGE IN RENZI’S PARTY: When Matteo Renzi decided to trigger a leadership contest in his Democratic Party, the former PM underestimated the risk of an open left-wing revolt, writes Giada Zampano. With the PD neck-and-neck in polls with Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment 5Star Movement, the man once known as “Demolition Man” may have bitten off more than he could chew.


ERDOĞAN CALLS DUTCH AUTHORITIES NAZIS: Turkey vowed to retaliate against the Netherlands in the “harshest ways” after Dutch authorities on Saturday barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from landing in Rotterdam after a political rally at which he was slated to appear was canceled. A Dutch official told the Sunday Times’ Bojan Pancevski: “We wanted to come to an arrangement but [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan turned this into an issue about who is the boss in our own country.”

Reminder of what Rotterdam looked like when real Nazis went there.

First German calls for Turkey’s EU membership talks to end: Daniel Bössler writing in Suddeutsche Zeitung said the weekend dispute would mean “the formal end of accession negotiations with Turkey is inevitable.” We’re yet to see Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, Bild or Die Welt join the chorus, but if you call modern-day Germans and their allies Nazis, it’s unlikely to be discreetly ignored.   


Your guide through 3 Dutch election myths by Naomi O’Leary. Spoiler alert: despite hyperventilating international headlines, the vote isn’t about the EU or Wilders. “Though Brexit and Nexit are often spoken of in the same breath, the U.K. referendum to leave the EU has hardly fueled the Euroskeptic movement in the Netherlands. If anything, it has had the opposite effect as the Dutch observe how the British experiment plays out … don’t expect a dramatic populist overturn of the established order in the Netherlands. Not one party currently commands more than 17 percent support.”

Watch out for: Playbook wouldn’t be surprised by a late surge by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, which manages to take a hard line against Erdoğan without veering fully into Wilders territory.

(Another) Wilders profile by the people who know him best: A long read about the Dutch politician the West can’t stop talking about, from NRC Handelsblad.

The bikes have it: According to la Libre Belgique, Dutch voters stand behind a strong cycling policy.


Endorsements update: The deadline for presidential hopefuls to get 500 endorsements from local officials is Saturday. Top candidates François Fillon, Emmanuel Macron, Benoît Hamon and Marine Le Pen are all across the line. Radical left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon still needs 68 signatures. The whole list here.

French power podcast: Playbook recommends for its Francophile readers this podcast from the weekly “L’Atelier du pouvoir.

GERMANY — AfD SLUMPS FURTHER: Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU and Martin Schulz’s SPD are tied on 33 percent, while the AfD has fallen to just 8 percent.


Two key UKREP appointments: Katrina Williams has been appointed to the post of U.K. deputy permanent representative and Simon Case as the new director general for the U.K.-EU partnership.

A defiant Boris Johnson insists quitting the EU with no deal would be “perfectly okay,” despite a leaked Treasury report showing the U.K. economy would be slammed if there is no Brexit deal in place in 2019. The U.K. parliament’s foreign affairs committee thinks it’s more likely than not that no deal will be ready in time.

By the numbers: While Brussels wants £53 billion in a divorce settlement, Theresa May believes Britain may actually be owed £9 billion.

How to Brexit: Guide by Mogens Peter Carl, for Friends of Europe, who was previously the director general of DG Trade. The document is billed as a “user’s guide to negotiators on both sides of the Channel: what might fly, what will not, and how they can reach a mutually beneficial outcome.”


Russian spokesman: It was impossible to cyberattack the U.S. elections.

Here’s how the world is depicting Trump in public art.

Rex Tillerson is a mystery to his own State Department. His first difficult trip to Japan, South Korea and China, starts Tuesday.

What happens when you fight a ‘deep state’ that doesn’t exist, asks the NY Times.

How Steve Bannon could unpick the EU and undo the West: Michael Crowley for POLITICO magazine looks into the top Trump adviser’s background and finds long-standing disgust with the EU. For Bannon “a strengthened EU is nothing less than a risk to civilization: a body that dilutes national identity and whose border policies allow Islam to invade the West, one refugee at a time.” Bannon is betting that many EU countries value their relationship with the U.S. over their relationship with Brussels. The article includes an interview with EU ambassador to the U.S., David O’Sullivan.

RUSSIA — AS SEEN BY AN ‘UNQUIET AMERICAN’: Former U.S. Ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul spoke to POLITICO’s Tunku Varadarajan about the biggest threats looming across the nine time zones of Russia’s horizon. “I think he’ll stay in power for as long as he can,” McFaul said of Putin.

RUSSIA — UK POINTS FINGER ON MONTENEGRO: Boris Johnson said Russian spies may have planned to kill Montenegro’s former Prime Minister Milo Ðukanović. There was “plenty of evidence Russians are capable of all sorts of dirty tricks, [including in] Montenegro an attempted coup and possibly an attempted assassination,” he told ITV’s Robert Peston.

UKRAINE’S FIGHT AGAINST FAKE NEWS GOES GLOBAL: A group of professors and students who created StopFake.org, the first site to directly tackle and refute Russian propaganda, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, are now the “grand wizards” of the fake news-busting world. Vijai Maheshwari reports from Kiev, and speaks with the founders of the site.


In town — Esko Aho: The former prime minister of Finland will meet another member of that club, Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen.

Brussels Press Revue reviewed: It was the Brussels anglophone night of nights on Saturday at Etterbeek’s Albert Hall. Brexit dominated at the annual Jackie and Geoff Meade-organized charity extravaganza, officially themed “Bonfire of the Sanities.” Playbook’s Best Actor award for the evening went to Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein. Winterstein played a chilling preacher, sharing the gospel of the White Paper on the Future of Europe, as part of a strong ensemble of Commission spokespeople. That creativity might often be missing when they’re onstage in their day jobs, but the spokespeople proved Eurocrats can laugh at themselves with gusto.

Other notable successes: The usual poetic genius of Duncan Lumsden (who also delivered a poignant Brussels version of City of Stars from La La Land). Simon and Garfunkel rewritten as bureaucratic blundering and performed by Swedish journalist Teresa Kuchler in “The Sound of Silos.” A poem called Boris in Wonderland (Playbook is tracking down the text). A version of “When I’m 64” starring a tottering EU. And “The Lady is a Tramp,” starring Donald Trump (the leader is a Trump, get it?).

Spotted: VIPs in the crowd included Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s former comms chief, who came over from London for the event with partner Lucy Thomas (ex-BBC and Remain campaign, now with Edelman). FT’s George Parker also made the Eurostar trek. Others in the audience to see themselves roasted onstage included Martin Selmayr (played onstage by POLITICO alum Craig Winneker as Darth Selmayr,) and Jonathan Faull.

Playbook hears: The Commission spokespeople were even more daring in rehearsals, going as far as to consider suggesting “refugees are NOT welcome here” in a dig at refugee skeptics in national governments. With Austrian television cameras rolling, that idea didn’t make the final cut.

Commission trainees gather for a conference today: Commissioner Tibor Navracsics will address the trainees in European Parliament, in Brussels.

Brussels terror attack latest: The suicide bombers who carried out the Brussels terror attacks discussed their plans in a 10-minute call with a point person in Syria the day before the March 2016 bombings, according to evidence uncovered by Belgian police.

Wallonia credit rating downgrade: According to Le Soir, Moody’s rating agency downgraded the Belgian region over budget deficit issues.