EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 15-05-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 15-05-2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Edging closer to Greek debt easing plan

Although no decision was reached on the Greek debt at the meeting of the so-called Washington Group in Bari, Italy, on Friday, Greece’s creditors – the eurozone countries on the one side and the International Monetary Fund on the other – have come quite close on a political and a technical level to what the final agreement should look like. The next step is expected at Monday’s Euro Working Group meeting.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218397/article/ekathimerini/business/edging-closer-to-greek-debt-easing-plan

Lagarde: Greek debt relief must be spelled out

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Friday urged for more specific debt relief measures to be spelled out by European creditors, part of the Fund’s standing demand that the Greek debt’s “sustainability” is ensured.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1234663/lagarde-greek-debt-relief-must-be-spelled-out

Beijing lauds deepening ties with Athens

Athens’s aim to forge closer and deeper ties with China received a boost at the weekend with Chinese President Xi Jinping insisting in Beijing that both countries should expand their cooperation in the fields of energy, telecommunications and infrastructure.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218413/article/ekathimerini/news/beijing-lauds–deepening-ties-with-athens

Greek PM ponders referendum trap

In what is seen as a bid to lay a political trap for New Democracy and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reportedly examining the prospect of holding a referendum on reviewing the Constitution, which will also include the question of whether to consolidate Greece’s electoral system which was voted in Parliament last year.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218412/article/ekathimerini/news/greek-pm-ponders-referendum-trap

Death toll from Saturday evening train derailment near Thessaloniki rises to 3

Τhe death toll from a late-night train derailment in northern Greece has risen to three, after another victim succumbed to injuries on Sunday morning.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1235069/death-toll-from-saturday-evening-train-derailment-near-thessaloniki-rises-to-3

Judicial officials raided home of ex defense minister

Judicial officials carried out secret raids at the home and office of former Socialist defense minister Yiannos Papantoniou early this week, on the orders of newly appointed corruption prosecutor Eleni Touloupaki, as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of bribe taking and money laundering.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218398/article/ekathimerini/news/judicial-officials-raided-home-of-ex-defense-minister

Ministry’s GDP forecast is reduced to 1.8 percent

A day after the European Commission downwardly revised its Greek growth forecast to 2.1 percent for this year, the Finance Ministry took its own projection even lower, to just 1.8 percent.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218399/article/ekathimerini/business/ministrys-gdp-forecast-is-reduced-to-18-percent

ATHEX: Mid-caps keep rising as main index runs out of steam

As anticipated after Thursday’s slowdown, the Greek benchmark’s 13-day rising streak was halted on Friday as it ended with moderate losses caused by a drop in banks and some other blue chips, although the mid-cap and small-cap indices, as well as the majority of stocks, headed north. The predictable correction saw turnover shrink too.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/218392/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-mid-caps-keep-rising-as-main-index-runs-out-of-steam

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SUNDAY PAPERS

KATHIMERINI: The restructure of businesses is going to pardon welshers

TO VIMA: The plans for the next day: The closing of the bailout programme review and the challenges for Tsipras and Mitsotakis.

REAL NEWS: Secret meeting between ex PM Samaras and ex VP Venizelos

PROTO THEMA: Chinese water torture. The most vicious measures-package is going to be implemented gradually in the next five years while Athens sells everything to Beijing.

AVGI: The public sector changes

RIZOSPASTIS: Uprise on 17 May! The anti-popular agreement is going to be tabled in the parliament

MONDAY PAPERS

TA NEA: Tsipras imposes heavy austerity

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Citizens in search of hope

KONTRA NEWS: Tsipras and Lagarde send strict message to Schaeuble

DIMOKRATIA: The government was hiding the shocking measures of the fourth Memorandum in fine print

NAFTEMPORIKI: The 3rd Memorandum is going to cost 14,1 billion Euros

MEETING DU JOUR: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron meet in Berlin. Let’s call them Merkron for fun. Macron is expected to name his prime minister today and 15 ministers on Tuesday. He’ll seek to reassure his German hosts that domestic reform is his priority, and that talk of eurozone reform can wait.

FRANCO-GERMAN SLIDING DOORS: Europhiles hoping Martin Schulz would join Macron in a cross-border pro-EU dream team were dealt a severe blow Sunday night. Schulz’s Social Democrats (SPD) lost an election in his German home state of North-Rhine Westphalia, which is also the party’s heartland. The result saps whatever momentum was left in the ex-European Parliament president’s campaign to unseat Merkel at German chancellor. Janosch Delcker has three takeaways from the SPD’s regional election disaster, including that Merkel’s CDU won on security and the SPD needs a complete overhaul to have a hope of success.

MARTIN SELMAYR’S TELEGRAM MYSTERY: Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, has a new customer. Someone sharing the name of Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff has joined the service. We know that because high-level EU figures received a notification on their phones after a Martin Selmayr joined and passed on the news to Playbook. It’s not clear if that happened because whoever is behind the Selmayr account forgot to turn off certain notifications or because the service spammed Selmayr’s existing contacts. Fun fact: Selmayr happens to be the architect of the EU’s strict new data protection law. PIC here.

DONALD TUSK TODAY: The Council president meets the African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and Klaus Regling, the European Stability Mechanism chief.

**A message from the EPP Group:  After presenting a poll on what Europeans think of Brexit in Wicklow, Ireland, Chairman Manfred Weber will this week take the floor in a debate on the last European Council’s Brexit conclusions. We will also look at fixing the leaking VAT system and vote on the portability of online content services.**

COUNCIL — UK MILITARY SPAT SET TO DOMINATE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Ministers today meet to discuss the security aspects of the EU global strategy and the situation in the Horn of Africa, and will meet with Ukraine’s foreign minister. Most controversially they will discuss creating an EU military headquarters for training missions. But don’t use that sort of language around sensitive Brits: the U.K. is currently blocking the military matter because it objects to use the words “operational HQ,” according to EU diplomats.

To placate the Brits, other countries agreed the working name of the headquarters would be “military planning and conduct capabilities unit,” or MPCC, a move first reported by POLITICO back in February. But the U.K. continued to object, according to a diplomatic source. Verbatim from the source: “Does [Britain’s Defense] Minister Michael Fallon, a Remainer, need a bit of chest-banging to make a point for domestic reasons? High level of frustration amongst EU partners. Not helpful. Was this really necessary?”

The upshot: The Council “conclusions” will be agreed by foreign ministers today and formally adopted Thursday by defense ministers. But the actual legal decision setting up the headquarters for these training missions is postponed.

COMMISSION — JUNCKER INTERVIEW: Macron is “signal of hope for Europe,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in an interview with Salzburg.com.

PARLIAMENT — PLENARY WEEK IN STRASBOURG STARTS TODAY: Agenda here.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs SET FOR AUDIOVISUAL SHOWDOWN: A contentious update to the EU’s audiovisual media rules is set to blow up this week in Strasbourg. Liberal MEPs will today request a vote by all 751 MEPs on Thursday to block negotiations with national governments on a compromise text. “National governments will be able to make a moral judgment on harmful content for minors,” weakening media freedom, Austrian Liberal MEP Angelika Mlinar told Playbook, citing concern about a Lithuanian law on “protection of minors.”

SECURITY — ISIS LAPTOP BOMBS MAY BE REASON BEHIND IN-FLIGHT BAN: Bojan Pancevski, Tom Harper and Mark Hookham report “America has shared ‘concrete intelligence,’ warning that there could be jihadists living in Britain with the potential to manufacture bombs from electronic devices. As a result, Downing Street is overseeing plans to ban laptops, tablets and ebook readers in hand luggage on flights to America.”

SECURITY — WRAP FROM ESTONIA’S LENNART MERI CONFERENCE: This year’s theme is “the war on trust.” Finland President Sauli Niinistö stressed the need to develop the EU as a “security community.” Full speech in English here.

SECURITY — EUROPOL CHIEF WARNS ON CYBERSECURITY: After a worldwide cyberattack over the weekend that hit more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, including dozens of well-known multinational companies and the U.K.’s National Health Service, Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director, urged business leaders, individuals and governments to take action against the escalating threat of cybercrime.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — GLOBAL TRADE UNION POLL RESULTS: Ahead of the G20 labor ministers meeting, Playbook has seen the first cut of results of a new International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) poll due out later in May. Their results show an anxious global workforce, with the ITUC promoting the survey as a sign of a “global governance failure” on jobs.

The top takeaway: 85 percent of respondents say it’s time to rewrite the rules of the global economy to promote growth and share prosperity. While 56 percent were worried about unfair competition from cheaper workers, bigger worries included three-quarters fearing inequality and losing their jobs. 38 percent said they had experienced either unemployment or reduced hours in the past two years.

DEMOCRACY UNDER FIRE: Czech President Miloš Zeman and Russian President Vladimir Putin were caught talking about how to manage pesky journalists. The men debated two solutions to the problem: Liquidate them (Zeman’s preference) or reduce their numbers and impact (Putin’s).

BEHIND THE NUMBERS — GERMANY’S CURRENT ACCOUNT SURPLUS: In 2016, Germany ran a current account surplus of roughly €270 billion, or 8.6 percent of GDP, infuriating people like U.S. President Donald Trump. One of the key reasons Germany has such a huge (EU rule-breaking) surplus is that its people save a lot. The real reason behind that: the population is shrinking and aging. That means the trend will likely continue (notwithstanding the impact of all those young refugees) and Germany’s invincibility is anything but long-term. Barry Eichengreen explains.

FRANCE — WHO’S WHO IN MACRON LAND: The first staff appointments include former EU and German ambassador Philippe Etienne as Macron’s new diplomatic adviser and Patrice Strzoda as his chief of staff. Fun fact, Strzoda worked for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics along with the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. The new Elysée Palace secretary general is Alexis Kohler, while Ismaël Emelien, Macron’s 30-year-old spin doctor, will be his special adviser.

Recap of Macron’s first speech: The key EU line was Macron committing to building “a more efficient, more democratic, more political Europe,” because it is “the instrument of [France’s] power and sovereignty.”

Poll watch: According to a Harris Interactive survey, Macron’s centrist alliance with François Bayrou is expected to gain the support of 29 percent of voters in the first round of parliamentary elections. The far-right National Front and center-right Républicains are at 20 percent each. The Socialists, with support still collapsing, are expected to gain 7 percent of the vote.

ICYMI — THE FLAGGING CENTRAL EUROPE EFFORT TO DERAIL MARGRETHE VESTAGER’S GAZPROM DEAL: Nicholas Hirst, Anca Gurzu and David M. Herszenhorn’s report on governments complaining about a settlement between Gazprom and the European Commission is now available for all readers.

UK ELECTION CORNER …

THERESA MAY — WORKERS CHAMPION? The prime minister will today pledge “the greatest extension of rights and protections for employees by any Conservative government in history,” according to an emailed party statement. The Conservatives say they will protect “all workers’ rights currently guaranteed by EU law,” and link increases in the national living wage to median earnings increases, while also offering unspecified protections for gig economy workers.

UNDERSTANDING MAY’S ELECTION FIXER: POLITICO’s Annabelle Dickson profiles Ben Gummer, one of the few people who knew of May’s surprise election plan, who is in charge of writing her party’s policy program. “Gummer is May’s eyes and ears, more trusted than many others around her cabinet table … Gummer’s rise and inclusion in the small group formulating the Tories’ policy platform epitomize what an important currency trust and loyalty are within May’s No. 10 Downing Street.”

WORDS MEAN WORDS: Another May special answer to a relevant Brexit question.

VERBAL WAR OVER DEFENSE CONNECTIONS: Emily Thornberry, the Labour Party’s shadow foreign secretary, ambushed Defense Secretary Michael Fallon on the BBC on Sunday. Anticipating Fallon’s likely attack on reported linked between Jeremy Corbyn and the IRA, Thornberry hit back with a precision-guided missile of her own. She announced Fallon had celebrated the re-election of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, with Assad, in 2007. Watch here, and read more in POLITICO’s Sunday Crunch newsletter.

BILLIONAIRE MERCERS LINKED TO BREXIT CAMPAIGN FUNDS: “A document that was never meant to be made public and was leaked by a concerned source — connects both Vote Leave and Leave.EU’s data firms directly to Robert Mercer, the American billionaire who bankrolled Donald Trump,” reported the Observer.

AUSTRIA — ELECTION COMING, KURZ CENTER-RIGHT LEADER: Austria’s junior government coalition partner chose a new leader Sunday, 30-year-old Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz. Kurz effectively pushed the country’s vice chancellor to resign last week and is calling for early elections.

Kurz goes the full Macron: “We have decided to start a movement,” Kurz told reporters. “We’re going to rely on proven forces from within the People’s Party, but at the same time we’re going to bring new people on board.”

POLAND — MACRON’S WIN GIVES WARSAW HEADACHE: Reuters’ Lidia Kelly and Krisztina Than have this intriguing analysis of what Macron’s win in the race for the French presidency means for Warsaw and Budapest. “Macron’s arrival, and his support for the ‘multi-speed’ Europe idea that has been gaining support in Germany and other EU countries since Britain’s decision to quit the bloc, make it more likely that a key decision-making circle could exclude the former communist capitals of Budapest and Warsaw. It would also thwart their efforts to shift power from Brussels back to member states.”

POLAND — WWII MUSEUM IN POLITICAL CROSSFIRE: Poland’s government has followed through on threats to fire Paweł Machcewicz, the director of the Museum of the Second World War, reports Claudia Ciobanu. The museum will now likely focus more on Polish suffering in the war — a move that, according to Ciobanu, “roughly reflects the split in the country as a whole between Poland’s mostly urban liberals who ran the show until two years ago and the nationalist, Euroskeptics from the Law and Justice (PiS) party who hold the reins today.”

MALTA — POLL INDICATES MUSCAT WIN: Despite a year of corruption allegations, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat looks the likely victor in a snap election he called for June 3. The latest poll has his Labour Party ahead with 52 percent support against 47 percent for the opposition Nationalists.

ESTONIA — GOVERNMENT TO SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH MOSCOW: Mihhail Korb, Estonia’s public administration minister, will visit the city of Pskov to sign an agreement on cross-border cooperation between Estonia and Russia.

GREECE — TSIPRAS PONDERS REFERENDUM: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is considering a constitutional referendum in a bid to outflank the opposition center-right New Democracy party.

NORDIC PRIME MINISTERS’ MEETING: Set for May 29-30.

THE ECONOMIST’S DAVID RENNIE ON INTERVIEWING TRUMP: The Oval Office was like a royal court with cabinet secretaries agreeing instead of offering their own thoughts.

BY THE NUMBERS — TRUMP AND RUSSIA: An NBC-WSJ poll found that 78 percent of Americans want an independent commission or special prosecutor to look into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election. The same poll found just 23 percent approve of the Republican health care bill and 29 percent support Trump firing FBI director James Comey.

CHINA’S GLOBAL ECONOMIC PLAY: As America retreats, China continues to pitch its vision for shaping the global economy in its own image. This time it’s putting $1 trillion on the table to match its words. In stark contrast to Trump’s “America First” mantra, the “One Belt, One Road” plan aims to remake global commerce in China’s image.

EU CONDEMNS NORTH KOREAN BOMB LAUNCH: The EU and NATO condemned Sunday’s ballistic missile launch by North Korea. Brussels called on the isolationist regime to abandon its weapons programs and instead engage in “credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community.”

EUROVISION — HOW IT HAPPENED: Portugal was the runaway winner. POLITICO’s glitterati blogged their hearts out for five hours to keep viewers amused. Blog posts archived here. Salvador Sobral was hailed as a national hero on arrival back in Lisbon.

BRUSSELS CORNER …

CROWDED: Brussels’ transport system is suffering, Le Soir reports.

HAPPENING: Berlin-based Ralf Herberich, Amazon’s director of machine learning, arrives today for an Amazon Academy lecture. Michela Magas, Europe’s female innovator of the year, and Pierre-Philippe Mathieu, the Earth observation leader at the European Space Agency, will also speak. Info here. Last minute RSVPs to mmatro@amazon.lu

APPOINTED: Former European Court of Justice President Vassilios Skouris has joined the ethics committee of FIFA, the global soccer body.