EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 14-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 14-03-2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Growing coalition jitters about vote on new measures

The deepening concern within SYRIZA and the government about how to manage the impact of a potential deal with Greece’s lenders became evident on Monday when Interior Minister Panos Skourletis suggested the coalition should seek the support of an enhanced parliamentary majority for any agreement.


Emergency central bank funding to Greek banks rises by 300 million euros in February

Emergency central bank funding to Greek lenders rose by 300 million euros, or 0.7 percent, in February compared to the previous month, Bank of Greece data showed on Monday.


Kotzias and Tillerson discuss Greek energy prospects

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias stressed the important role Greece can play as a pillar of stability in a volatile region and its prospects as a regional energy hub in his meeting on Monday with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington.


Prosecutor identifies 17 suspects in 1999 arms deal

A prosecutor has recommended to a council of Appeal Court judges that 17 people should stand trial over claims that bribes were paid to a former Greek minister and other officials in connection to the purchase of defense equipment.


Pay gap between private, state sectors

More than half of private sector employees in Greece are paid less than 800 euros per month, compared with just 11 percent in the public sector, while the real unemployment rate is more than 30 percent, the country’s biggest union claimed in its annual report published on Monday.


Stock of properties conceded to the state or confiscated grows

The austerity measures introduced by the government are forcing thousands of taxpayers to hand over inherited property to the state as they are unable to cover the taxation it would entail. The number of state properties grew further last year due to thousands of confiscations that reached a new high.


Worker killed during construction of Thessaloniki metro

A worker at a construction site for the Thessaloniki metro was killed on Monday afternoon after the crane he was operating overturned and fell into an underground excavation area.







KATHIMERINI: Relations between the EU and Turkey spiral out of control

ETHNOS: Interior Minister Skourletis aligned with Dijsselbloem

TA NEA: New changes in forest maps

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Poverty is the worst form of violence

AVGI: New Democracy confused

RIZOSPASTIS: Yet another agreement, yet another plunder. That’s enough. Revolt now!

KONTRA NEWS: Workers Union GSEE only now discovers the poverty induced by Memorandum-dictated policies

DIMOKRATIA: Poverty explodes at the command of Merkel-Schaeuble

NAFTEMPORIKI: Two-gear workers

IMERISIA: 500,000 real estate assets remain unwanted

ATLAS OF PREJUDICE — 20 WAYS TO DIVIDE EUROPE: With a very generous h/t to Yanko Tsvetkov.

TUESDAY MERKEL-TRUMP MEETING POSTPONED TO FRIDAY: Due to the severe weather along the U.S. east coast.

GET READY FOR THE 2019 INAUGURATION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: It’s the stuff of Europhile dreams and Euroskeptic nightmares. European Parliament Secretary General Klaus Welle has won the backing of the institution’s executive committee for an elaborate ceremonial swearing-in of the next European Commission president.

Welle thinks that is the right finale for the spitzenkandidat process that in 2014 saw the lead candidate of the party that won the most votes in the European election (Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP) go on to become Commission president. The ceremony would be paid for out of a €33-million communication budget for the 2019 election in February. POLITICO’s Florian Eder has more.

Should the Commission throw a presidential inauguration? Vote in a Playbook poll here.

What would the ceremony look like? Juncker, according to POLITICO’s sources, refused the offer of an inauguration ceremony in 2014, so we can only imagine what it might have been like. Perhaps a stage erected between the Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters and the Council’s Justus Lipsius and “space egg” buildings, with the Rue de la Loi filled with crowds like the National Mall in Washington D.C., gathered under EU flags hanging from the Commission buildings lining the road. Alternatively, the Parliament’s esplanade and Place Luxembourg could be filled in similar fashion.

**A message from the EPP Group: Another step forward for the Interrail initiative! In Parliament’s political priorities for the 2018 EU budget, we aim to secure funds for the EPP Group-led proposal that has the potential to become a key component in increasing European identity, especially in the face of populism and the spread of misinformation. #DiscoverEU.**

COMMISSION — JUNCKER CONSIDERING EXTRAORDINARY BREXIT COLLEGE MEETING: “He might convene an extraordinary Commission meeting on the evening of April 6 or on April 7,” according to minutes of the February 22 College of Commissioners meeting released Monday.

COMMISSION — COLLEGE MEETING TO DISCUSS SYRIA TODAY: EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini will speak to reporters at 3:30 p.m. Watch on EBS.

COMMISSION — GAZPROM DEAL: The EU’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, emerged unscathed from a press conference Monday, despite choosing to strike a deal with Gazprom rather than pursue the Russian gas giant in a years-long antitrust case related to overcharging and other complaints. Vestager said she prioritized quick falls in energy bills instead. In return for the Commission’s leniency, Gazprom agreed to make deep changes to its business practices in Central and Eastern Europe, including to submit its contracts for verification by EU agents. That’s a long way from the days when Russia described Gazprom as an arm of the Kremlin and therefore immune to EU antitrust laws.

The drip, drip competition news template: This case may become a model for how to drain interest from controversial antitrust cases. News of the two parties progressing towards a deal dripped regularly over about six months. By the time Monday’s announcement came, a lot of the outrage and anger around a possible settlement had dissipated.

COMMISSION BOOZE CRUISE: The European Commission will give alcohol manufacturers the opportunity to self-regulate on calorie and ingredient labeling before it considers mandatory rules in 2018 (link for POLITICO Pro Health Care and Agriculture and Food subscribers).

PARLIAMENT — SOCIALIST SCHMOOZE CRUISE: Gianni Pittella is hosting a press reception at 6:15 p.m. today to introduce the new Socialist executive committee to journalists. Room LOW C4.1 in the European Parliament, Strasbourg.

PARLIAMENT — TAJANI PUSHES FOR STRASBOURG PRICE CUTS: Visitors to Strasbourg during Parliament sitting weeks are routinely ripped off. Flight monopolies leave passengers paying up to €900 for a short return flight and hotels at €300 a night are common. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani met on Monday with both Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries and former MEP Catherine Trautmann, who now lobbies for the city, and called on them to act.

TURKEY ROW TENSION CONTINUES: Senior EU and NATO officials are pleading for restraint as a nasty political feud between Ankara and European capitals over Turkey’s upcoming constitutional referendum continues to escalate. Turkey’s Europe Minister Ömer Çelik told the state-run Anadolu Agency that his country should consider reviewing its migration deal with the EU and relaxing controls on people reaching Europe over land.

NATO — ALL CHANGE AT THE MILITARY ALLIANCE: Trail-blazing female ambassadors and the alliance’s annual report here.


Workers in 7 EU countries worse off than in 2009: Real wages have fallen every year since 2009 in Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Cyprus, the U.K. and Italy, according to a new report by the European Trade Union Institute and the European Trade Union Confederation.


How Europe can bend without breaking: A new ECFR publication is launched today at an event featuring Javier Solana, former high representative for the common foreign and security policy, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, and Nathalie Tocci, deputy director at the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome. POLITICO’s David Herszenhorn will chair the event, which you can watch here from 12:30 p.m. Brussels time.

What’s missing from the Commission white paper? According to a new blog post on the LSE Europp blog, transparency and public accountability are missing.

Presidential line-up for State of the Union conference: All three EU presidents, Tusk, Juncker and Tajani, will attend the 2017 edition of this staple of the European University Institute in the first week of May.

LATEST PAUL ADAMSON PODCAST: With Tony Gardner, the former U.S. ambassador to the EU. Top quotes include: “We need to do more on tax evasion because fairness on both sides of the Atlantic is a driving force for populist movements,” and  “I don’t think that Britain has to play a bridging role between the U.S. and EU — those times are now gone.”

SEPARATED AT BIRTH — BEATA SZYDŁO AND RUTH DAVIDSON: h/t Pietro de Matteis for this gem.


Expect Article 50 to be triggered at the end of March: While Theresa May won final parliamentary approval Monday night to trigger Brexit negotiations, the government is likely to wait until the end of the month, after Treaty of Rome celebrations, to trigger Article 50 divorce proceedings.

What happens next? Tom McTague and Charlie Cooper have you covered. Spoiler alert: There will be around three months of negotiations planning before the tough stuff begins. “Two years after its [Article 50] activation, the U.K. will no longer be a member of the EU, whether or not a deal has been struck on the terms of the divorce. For a deal to be concluded within this deadline, both sides need to have reached an agreement in just 18 months, October 2018, leaving enough time for the U.K. and European parliaments to sign off on the divorce terms.”

What Sturgeon’s independence referendum bombshell means: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday wrong-footed Westminster, confirming her intention to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence between fall 2018 and spring 2019. After spending nine months catering more to her party’s hard right (choosing to leave the EU single market and customs union) than to Scotland, which voted against Brexit, Theresa May bears some responsibility for Sturgeon’s move. If Scotland does hold another independence vote, it’s hard to see both May and Sturgeon surviving the fallout: It will likely end one of their political careers. POLITICO digested Sturgeon’s power play as Brexit’s second act.

Playbook poll: Three-quarters of respondents to a Playbook Twitter poll thought May’s decision to leave the EU single market gave Sturgeon the political capital to push for a second independence referendum.

May cares more about Nissan than Scotland, says minister: Playbook had a chat with Scotland’s Brexit Minister Mike Russell. He said May’s government was not committed to incorporating Scottish concerns into its Brexit plan and this made “Scotland not as valuable as Nissan,” to the U.K. government. Russell conceded Scotland will almost certainly be forced out of the EU at least briefly, but that “the surest way not to be in the EU is to stay in the U.K.”

Brexit event: The Brussels campus of the University of Kent is hosting a morning session on Brexit this Friday. More info here.

UK convenes 2018 Commonwealth summit, to chair the group: In case anyone was in any doubt of Britain’s efforts to rally its former empire, the U.K. will take over the role of chairing the Commonwealth during Brexit negotiations. Shada Islam is skeptical that former colonies will be as excited as Brexiteers about this new British enthusiasm for the group.

HUNGARY — PRESIDENT REELECTED: Hungarian President János Áder, an ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, was reelected by a large majority in parliament Monday. Some 131 MPs voted in favor of extending Áder’s term for another five years, versus 39 for left-wing opposition candidate Majtényi László.

LITHUANIA — MEPs BANNED FROM ENTERING RUSSIA: MEPs Laima Andrikienė and Algirdas Saudargas, both members of the conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, were included in a list of EU politicians banned from entering Russia.


TV debate wrap: PM Mark Rutte and challenger Geert Wilders faced off in a sharply worded TV debate Monday night. Rutte said he refused to work with Wilders. “It’s easier to send out tweets, but it’s different to govern a country,” Rutte said. Wilders parried that the prime minister would pay if he ignored him and his voters.

For Dutch Moroccans, a campaign of fear: The Netherlands, once known for its tolerance, is seeing racism on the rise, Morgan Meaker reports. Meaker speaks with some of the 380,000 people of Moroccan descent in the Netherlands, representing 2 percent of the population, to discuss Geert Wilders and his anti-Islam, anti-EU Party for Freedom, and how they have shaped the country’s views on religion and migration.

An ‘orange bus for unity’ has been touring the Netherlands handing out tulips and waffles to inspire people “to vote from the heart, not from hate,” according to campaign group Avaaz.

Are you having a good phoney election war? The spat between Turkey and the Netherlands is all about winning votes, and it suits both Rutte and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, writes Ishaan Tharoor.


Valls to back Macron: Former PM Manuel Valls will throw his support behind Emmanuel Macron, Le Parisien reports.

Voters abroad denied online ballot over cybersecurity concerns: The French foreign ministry confirmed the restrictions to registered voters overseas.


Congressional budget office blow to Trumpcare: Independent budget assessors said 24 million Americans would lose health insurance within a decade of Trump’s health policy.

Slowest US presidential transition in decades: New York Times reports Trump’s administration, from the State Department to the Pentagon to the Department of Commerce, is full of empty offices.


Brussels attacks memorial sculpture has arrived: The 20-meter long and 2-meter high piece by Jean-Henri Compère will be permanently installed Wednesday, between the Schuman roundabout and Parc Cinquantenaire.