EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 15-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 15-03-2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fatigue seen in primary surplus in Jan-Feb

The excessive containment of state expenditure and the central bank dividend led to the budget posting a primary surplus of 2.1 billion euros on top of the target of 846 million euros in the January-February period, although this was below the figure seen in the same period last year (2.85 billion euros), according to data released om Tuesday by the State General Accounting Office.


Nouy: Bad loans ‘major challenge’ for Greek banks

Bad loans pose a major challenge to Greek banks but the sector has improved “substantially,” European Central Bank supervision chief Daniele Nouy told the Athens News Agency on Tuesday.


Salaries have been sliding 3.1 pct a year in Greece

Salaries in Greece have shrunk at an annual average of 3.1 percent since 2009, according to a survey conducted by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) for the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).


Hirings set to increase in April-June

There are signs that suggest the second quarter of 2017 will be Greece’s strongest in terms of hirings in the last couple of years, according to a quarterly survey by Manpower Group.


90,000 workers are still awaiting EFKA notice

Two days before the (already extended) deadline for the payment of January’s social security contributions, more than 90,000 workers remain scratching their heads as their pay notices have not yet been put up on the website of the new Single Social Security Contribution (EFKA).


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.


ATHEX: Bank stocks sink on jitters

Investors in the local bourse were clearly nervous on Tuesday – largely due to the increase in Greek lenders’ dependence on the Bank of Greece’s emergency liquidity mechanism, as well as Single Supervisory Mechanism head Daniele Nouy’s visit to Athens – and this resulted in significant losses for the vast majority of stocks at Athinon Avenue, with banks leading the way.


As Greek crisis grinds on, children pay price

A quarter of Greece’s workforce is unemployed and a quarter of its children live in poverty, according to United Nations figures, forcing parents to depend on grandparents for handouts.







KATHIMERINI: 90,000 workers are still awaiting EFKA notice

ETHNOS: The number of students in top university schools will be reduced

TA NEA: Alchemy and state budget surpluses


AVGI: EU-Turkey: On the verge of nervous breakdown

RIZOSPASTIS: Monday’s Eurogroup has an extended agenda against the people

KONTRA NEWS: Elections in Holland cause shattering changes

DIMOKRATIA: Blackmail through harsher capital controls

NAFTEMPORIKI: Automatic Fiscal Adjustment Mechanism supports the surplus



Voting has started in the first major election after a disruptive 2016, just hours after a final debate that left Prime Minister Mark Rutte in pole position and the momentum with Jesse Klaver’s GreenLeft party. While some support for the far-right Geert Wilders may remain hidden from pollsters, it’s clear that the trajectory for his party is negative compared to its January and February highs, regardless of the levels of international attention Wilders has received. One (outlier) poll by I & O puts Wilders back in fourth place at the same 10 percent level of support he achieved in 2012.

Follow the latest news on POLITICO’s election live blog, which will go live later this morning, and email tips to Cynthia Kroet.

How to watch the election like a pro: Twenty-eight parties, 150 seats, 13 million people eligible to vote, and no party polling above 17 percent. Naomi O’Leary helps you digest this Dutch serving of political spaghetti. Top takeaway: “No matter the result, the next government will take weeks, possibly months, to emerge. In all likelihood, this will be painstaking coalition-building between as many as five different parties.”

POLITICO’s Dutch election must-reads: Cynthia Kroet has pulled together a collection of articles to help you get up to speed with the election. From insight into far-right firebrand Wilders to a breakdown of the six most interesting fringe parties running, this is the go-to list on voting day.

Jesse Klaver — compared to Justin Trudeau, but copying Obama tactics: Naomi O’Leary speaks with the 30-year-old leader of the Dutch green party, who has taken a leaf out of the former U.S. president’s playbook. Goodbye low-key campaigning, hello personality-based movement, which may see him quadruple the number of seats held by his party in the lower house, perhaps even leading to a role in the next coalition government. But Klaver’s ambitions don’t end there — the country’s top job is a “realistic” prospect, he reckons.

Fire on all sides in the final election debate: De Telegraaf NRC Handelsblad | NOS. According to NOS the debate was harsh but “no one fell through the ice.”

**A message from the EPP Group: Developments in Turkey as well as Brexit chaos in the U.K. show that Europe must stand together. It is crucial that we now look to the EU’s future. In today’s debate, starting at 9 a.m., our Chairman Manfred Weber will demand a clear signal for a fresh start from EU leaders. Watch the debate live.**

Top debate quotes

“Jesus does not exist in Islam,” Wilders claimed, leaving fact-checkers tearing their hair out in frustration.

“You’ve been a big zero,” Left-liberal D66’s Alexander Pechtold told Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma.

By the numbers — most Googled leaders: Klaver recorded 40 percent of searches, Wilders 22 percent, Rutte 15 percent, according to NOS.

Rutte’s last word to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Rutte told the BBC the president was becoming “increasingly more hysterical hour by hour and I want him to … calm down.

Policy round-up: Audrie van Veen (“the Europeanologist“), writes that seven parties are pro-EU, 10 want major EU reform and six definitely want Nexit. Capital Economics compares 14 parties on their policy positions and analyzes which are most and least likely to form coalitions. The Bertelsmann Foundation runs the numbers and finds that Dutch economic policies have been relatively successful, giving the Netherlands some of the best economic indicators in Europe: low unemployment, low youth unemployment and successful poverty reduction projects.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER SET TO VISIT WASHINGTON DC APRIL 20-22: Playbook’s diplomatic source says the European Commission president will make his usual visit to the IMF and World Bank spring meetings.

PLAYBOOK POLL RESULT — MOST OPPOSE EUROPEAN COMMISSION INAUGURATION: Of the 700 votes cast, 58 to 42 percent were against a U.S.-style public ceremony.

EUROPEAN ELECTIONS — SOCIALISTS WON MORE VOTES IN 2014: Debate is brewing about the the structure and communication around the 2019 European Parliament election, and into the mix comes new analysis from Nicholas Whyte about how many votes each party won in 2014.

Whyte writes that while the EPP easily won the most seats, it received between 300,000 and 1.6 million fewer votes than the Socialists. The differing figures arise depending on whether you count party membership on the day of the election or several months later. “But the outcome is still clear,” writes Whyte. That’s relevant to any changes in how the Spitzenkandidat system works, or other election structural changes such as applying a consistent minimum voting age.

PARLIAMENT — JUSSI HALLA-AHO JOINS RACE TO CHAIR TRUE FINNS PARTY, WANTS ‘FIXIT’: The Finnish MEP has joined the race to lead his right-wing party, a government coalition partner. He told local media he wants his country to quit the eurozone and the EU. “Political reasons for quitting, especially the euro, are very clear, and economical reasons are pretty clear too,” Halla-aho said.

PARLIAMENT — LE PEN’S PARTY CHALLENGES TAJANI ON EXPLOITED WORKERS IN SICILY: Laurenţiu Rebega, vice president of Marine Le Pen’s Europe of Nations and Freedom group, has in a letter addressed to Parliament President Antonio Tajani come to the defense of 7,500 Romanian and Moldovan women working in “abominable conditions in Sicily.” Full letter here.

“For years now, in Italy, Spain and other countries of the European Union, citizens of the Eastern European countries — women and men alike — work in illegal conditions on the black labor market, in conditions similar to slavery. On a daily basis in this house, we put down and vote reports, resolutions or declarations that touch upon human rights abuses across the world … However, we rarely discuss the cases of humiliating treatment and slavery that exist in the European Union.”

** Happening Next Week — Do not miss POLITICO’s “Sustainable Transport and Energy Networks: Reinventing the Wheel” event, part of the Cities4Climate 2020 series and presented by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. The conversation will convene Mayors from leading cities alongside European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič , to discuss cities’ transport systems, their smart energy networks; intelligent transport systems and exchange on good practices to be more sustainable. Register to attend.**

PARLIAMENT — TAJANI SANCTIONS KORWIN-MIKKE: Tajani on Tuesday suspended Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke from the European Parliament over sexist remarks he made in the chamber. The MEP will lose his daily allowance.

PARLIAMENT — PLENARY TO ADOPT 2018 BUDGET GUIDELINES: Siegfried Mureșan, rapporteur for the budget, told Playbook that security, growth, and jobs would be the priorities in the budget. In addition to headline-grabbing ideas such as a proposal to give EU-subsidized Interrail passes to 18-year-olds, Mureșan will propose strengthening the EU’s justice and home affairs agencies (Frontex, EASO, Europol, Eurojust) and pushing national government to pool their defense research efforts. “We should stop spending money on research 28 times in 28 member states to achieve the same result,” he said.

Mureșan is confident he will win in plenary today. “These guidelines have been adopted with a large majority at the level of the committee last week. 28 votes in favor, only three votes against and four abstentions. It is remarkable that the ECR group said today in the plenary that for the first time in years they will abstain, not oppose, and they praised my work,” he said.

PARTY PEOPLE — JUNCKER PLANS TO REVIVE ‘GRAND COALITION’: The Commission president wants to meet with Socialists every three months, following complaints about the center-right EPP holding all three EU president posts. The Socialists themselves pulled the plug on the original “grand coalition” in late 2016. Maïa de la Baume has the details.

PARTY PEOPLE — MORE EVIDENCE OF POLAND’S RULING PARTY MISUSING EU FUNDS: ACRE, the political party related to the European Conservatives and Reformists party group, in July 2015 used €153,000 in EU funding for the national convention of the Polish Law and Justice Party, in what seems to be a serious breach of European Parliament rules, reported NRC, Gazeta Wyborcza and Belgian news site Apache. Reminder: EU money can only be spent on events with a dominant European angle.

Earlier this week the publications wrote about the way ACRE and the affiliated think tank New Direction distribute EU funding. Local partners are given subsidies in exchange for donations to both ACRE and New Direction, which are then presented as “own resources” to the Parliament’s accountants. UKIP think tank IDDE recently lost European Parliament funding for the same offense, which Ingeborg Grässle from the Budgetary Control Committee calls “an advanced model of possible corruption.”

POLAND — WHY KACZYŃSKI SENT THE POLISH GOVERNMENT ON A SUICIDE MISSION: Paul Taylor concludes domestic politics were the only reason Poland’s shadow leader Jarosław Kaczyński ordered the government into a suicide mission to try to prevent Donald Tusk’s reappointment as European Council president last week. “The aim was to prevent Tusk becoming head of state with a veto over legislation. State-controlled Polish media depicted Prime Minister Beata Szydło’s summit defeat as a diplomatic triumph for Poland.”

ECJ — BLANKET BUT NOT ARBITRARY WORKPLACE HEADSCARF BANS OK: Companies can enforce blanket bans on headscarves for their employees in order to maintain religious neutrality in the workplace but can’t fire staff for wearing religious garb if there’s no rule in place, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Tuesday. The European Network Against Racism said the decision legitimized discrimination.

DID YOU KNOW? POLITICO IS NOW A FEMALE-MAJORITY NEWS ORGANIZATION: We ran the numbers, and the POLITICO staff is now 54 percent female, with a majority of the highest level positions held by women.

REAL EUROPE — THE MAINSTREAMING OF WHITE NATIONALISM: Today there’s another “globally recognized protagonist (or antagonist)” through which to explain an election. Ishaan Tharoor reports.

FINLAND — HOW NOT TO FRONT A ‘COOL CAMPAIGN’: Sauli Niinistö, so far best known outside Finland for his cute dog and calling into radio programs using fake names to discuss parsnips, has added a new level of intrigue to his public persona. Niinistö has fronted an anti-bullying campaign in a style best described as “suited rabbit caught in headlights,” with local singers Robin and Diandra.

IRELAND — ENDA KENNY BETWEEN A SHAMROCK AND A HARD PLACE OVER TRUMP VISIT: Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny once called Donald Trump “dangerous and racist,” but will on Thursday hand the president a bowl of shamrocks during a state visit to Washington for the annual “shamrock exchange” event ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. That has political opponents calling hypocrisy.

BREXIT — EU COULD FORCE MAY TO WAIT: Bloomberg reports the EU is mulling whether to make Britain wait until June to begin formal Brexit talks. Ian Wishart writes: “The 27 other members of the EU have pinpointed a meeting of government ministers in Luxembourg on June 20 as the moment to authorize the opening of talks, two EU officials said on condition of anonymity … As well as limiting how long the two sides have to find common ground, pushing the start of the divorce discussions until late June risks upsetting businesses and banks that are seeking early clarity on just what the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU means for them.”

BREXIT — SPAIN TELLS SCOTLAND THEY’LL BE AT THE BACK OF EU MEMBERSHIP QUEUE: “We prefer things to stay as they are,” Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, a former Spanish ambassador to the EU, told the Guardian. Dastis said Scotland “would have to queue, meet the requirements for entry, hold negotiations and the result would be that these negotiations would take place.” Madrid is against Scotland becoming independent because of its own separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country.


It’s official: François Fillon is now under formal investigation over misusing public funds.

After Le Pen, Fillon, now Macron: French prosecutors on Tuesday opened an investigation into alleged favoritism at an event in Las Vegas at which Emmanuel Macron was a speaker.

Civil servants back Le Pen: Marine Le Pen is the top choice for president of French civil servants, ahead of Macron and Benoît Hamon, according to a survey commissioned by Acteurs Publics.

SPOTTED: Barack Obama holidaying in French Polynesia, the European Union outpost in the Pacific Ocean.

RUSSIA — PUTIN AND EUROPE’S FAR RIGHT: The Center for American Progress published a report today arguing Moscow has cultivated the far right abroad to advance its own interests. CAP looked at seven parties in six European countries including UKIP in the U.K., France’s National Front and Germany’s AfD and found pro-Russia policies such as dropping EU sanctions, support for the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s actions in Syria were common themes. CAP also looked at U.S. President Donald Trump’s position on Russia.


Trump made $150m in 2005, paid $38m in federal taxes: The White House released the information after journalist David Cay Johnston published two pages that appeared to be from Trump’s 2005 tax return. The revelations were simultaneously broadcast on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow” show. Based on the information, Trump paid an effective tax rate of about 25 percent.

US interest rates set to rise today: That’s a sign of a stronger economy in need of cooling, but is rarely greeted with enthusiasm by consumers and mortgage holders.

US debt ceiling: A deal between Congressional Republicans and the Obama administration that temporarily ended fights over raising the U.S. debt ceiling expires today. That means renewed risk that the world’s biggest economy will default on its debt — a nightmare scenario that can shake global markets no matter how theoretical it might be. While the government is not expected to run out of money to pay its bills until at least late summer, the challenge is that Republicans, who have typically resisted raising the debt ceiling when these fights occur, now control all three branches of government in Washington.


Not as livable as before: Brussels has been downgraded on a list of the world’s most livable cities by consultancy Mercer. The main reason is the 2016 terrorist attack, but other criteria such as air quality and traffic congestion might not have helped. The Belgian capital is in 27th place in the list for 2017, down from 21 in 2016’s list. Vienna is No. 1 for the eighth year in a row.

N-VA to propose new Belgian citizenship test: Details here.