EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 16-06-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 16-06-2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eurogroup approves loans, details debt relief, IMF to join

Greece’s international creditors agreed on Thursday to approve the disbursement of 8.5 billion euros in bailout loans and to detail medium-term debt relief measures following talks in Luxembourg.


Tsipras, Netanyahu, Anastasiades in energy deal

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasides on Thursday agreed to speed up plans for an ambitious Mediterranean undersea natural gas pipeline project and to seek to boost trilateral cooperation and stability in the region.


ESM: Interruption of Greece’s economic modernization in early 2015 ‘extremely costly’

The European Stability Mechanism’s (ESM) report for 2016 – issued on the same day as a crucial Eurogroup meeting on the Greek issue – first noted that Greece remains the only active program country receiving loans from its coffers, evidence of “how far Europe has come since the peak of the crisis.”


Supermarkets seek ways to stem turnover fall

Sales at supermarkets remained in negative territory after the first five months of the year, with turnover shrinking by between 5 and 6 percent, according to sector estimates.


Any income from land cultivation will incur social security contributions

Thousands of Greeks will soon have to pay social security contributions for every kind of labor they may perform, even if that is occasional agricultural work, according to a circular issued by the Single Social Security Entity (EFKA).


Greek banks: 3 out of 10 ‘bad debt’ loans unsalvageable

Three out of 10 non-performing loans (NPLs) in Greece are unsalvageable, whereas Greek banks claim their data shows that another 20 to 25 percent of the remaining “bad debt” is held by strategic defaulters.


ATHEX: Mixed picture at the bourse

Having already factored in a positive outcome in last night’s Eurogroup, the Greek bourse produced little excitement on Thursday with stocks split between winners and losers.







KATHIMERINI: Loan installment worth 8,5 billion Euros and many promises

TA NEA: Too many lies for just one loan installment

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The creditors gave loan tranche and commitments

AVGI: Beginning of the end for the Greek drama

RIZOSPASTIS: Agreement-guideline for the escalation of the attack against the Greek people

KONTRA NEWS: Tsipras won the war

DIMOKRATIA: Agreement for 8,5 billion Euros

NAFTEMPORIKI: Green light for a loan installment worth 8,5 billion Euros

Europe’s second new gay prime minister of the week … in Serbia. The country is set to get its first female and openly gay PM after President Aleksandar Vučić announced he had given Ana Brnabić, a 41-year-old local government minister, the mandate to form a new government.

BREXIT GETS REAL: On Thursday in Prague, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said the U.K. would be welcomed back into the EU fold if it changed its mind up until the moment of Brexit in 2019. An hour later, POLITICO learned the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart David Davis had agreed Brexit talks would start Monday, 362 days after Britons voted to leave the EU.

Negotiations will begin before the U.K. officially forms its new government or lays out its policy program, amid questions about what sort of mandate Prime Minister Theresa May has to pursue Brexit. In contrast, as Stefaan De Rynck, Barnier’s close adviser, drily noted to the same Prague audience, the EU will enter the talks confidently and with a “mandated and accountable negotiator.” (More on that below.)

Barnier and Davis’ joint statement: “Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, and David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the European Union, agreed today to launch Article 50 negotiations on Monday, 19 June.”

**A message from the EPP Group: Theresa May gambled and lost, while Europe stays united. This shows once again: it is better to reform the EU than to leave or destroy it. This was the message our Chairman Manfred Weber had for the British prime minister.**

EUROGROUP — GREECE WINS APPROVAL FOR NEXT €8.5 BILLION: It’s what Greece wanted, but not all it wanted. Athens “will not get the more extensive debt relief that it was also seeking until the end of its €86-billion bailout program in mid-2018,” Bjarke Smith-Meyer and Johanna Treeck report.

Though this agreement  won’t completely close the book on the seven-year-old Greek debt saga, it marks an important turning of the page — for both Greece and other eurozone countries. The IMF is back on board, for a start. And while there are no details yet of what debt relief would look like in practice, no one now pretends Greek debt is sustainable, meaning eventually a debt deal will also be reached.


COMMISSION — EU-WIDE PETITION TO BAN CHEMICAL SUBSTANCE HAS POPULAR MOMENTUM: The European citizens’ initiative to ban glyphosate has surpassed 1 million signatures, meaning the European Commission is obliged to respond ahead of its decision on whether to renew the substance’s license later this year.

PARLIAMENT: Axel Voss will replace Therese Comodini Cachia as copyright rapporteur. Comodini Cachia heads back to Malta to take up a seat in the national parliament. More for POLITICO Pro Technology subscribers.

ECJ — INSTEAD OF TENNIS, PLAY BRIDGE: According to the EU court’s advocate-general, playing bridge can be considered a sport.

COUNCIL — LIBERALS POISED TO BECOME BIGGEST BLOC: With the Czech Social Democrat prime minister seemingly on the way out in favor of a Liberal alternative, and with the liberal in spirit (if not yet in affiliation) Emmanuel Macron now running France, the Liberal bloc in the European Council could be the biggest bloc (with nine votes) by the time the December leaders’ summit rolls around. That would certainly set tongues wagging about the EPP stranglehold over the EU’s top jobs.


Roaming gone, but not for all: Roaming charges went out with a bang in Malta Thursday evening, with delegates at the EU’s annual digital assembly treated to a fireworks display. But some members of the European People’s Party were not amused to discover the roaming fun had not yet started for them. It turns out European Parliament agreed with its mobile provide Proximus to keep paying roaming charges until August.

Ansip vs Parliament: European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip sat down for an exclusive chat with POLITICO’s Joanna Plucinska. In the interview (available for POLITICO Pro Technology subscribers here), Ansip slammed the European Parliament’s position on the Copyright Directive and said the Commission has no immediate plans to review the enforcement of intellectual property rights in Europe.

Ansip’s Digital Assembly speech.

Spotted: Commissioner Věra Jourová flying to Malta in cattle class for the event.

EU APPROVAL RATINGS BOUNCE BACK: Pew Research has found that even in the U.K., the EU is enjoying resurgent approval. There’s also majority support in most countries for national governments to have more power over migration and trade. While most people said they would opt to stay in the EU if given a choice, most also wanted to vote on the issue in their country.

UK — SINN FEIN ACCUSE CONSERVATIVES OF BREAKING GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT: Northern Irish and Scottish political leaders voiced concerns about the unfinished and unpublished pact set to keep the Tories in power. Connor Murphy reports.

UK — MAY FAVORABILITY RATING TANKS: Theresa May’s favorability rating is now lower than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s was before the U.K. election, and lower than U.S. President Donald Trump’s. In a YouGov survey conducted June 11-12, after the U.K snap election, 29 percent reported a favorable view of May (down 13 points from May 29-30), and 63 percent viewed her unfavorably. Forty-six percent of those polled viewed Corbyn favorably and 46 percent unfavorably. Meanwhile in the U.S., 38 percent approve of Trump and 56 percent disapprove, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Here’s a clue why: Channel 4 News’ Robert Hamilton asked May why she didn’t visit survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. She didn’t answer. Meanwhile, Corbyn hugged and chatted with survivors.

UK — GRENFELL TOWER POLITICAL FALLOUT: Things will get worse today for both local and national government after the Times reported the type of cladding used on the Grenfell Tower is banned in the U.S. because of the fire safety danger it poses, and that the contractor who installed it chose that type of cladding over a fire-resistant option for cost reasons.

By the numbers: The Times reports the fire resistant panels cost about €30, the flammable ones €27. Making Grenfell Tower non-flammable would have cost about €6,000 more.

FRANCE — ELECTION SEASON SOON FINALLY OVER: The campaign for the runoff of the French parliamentary election ends tonight at midnight. Voting starts on Saturday for some French overseas voters and on Sunday for most of the 577 constituencies. Seat projections indicate Macron’s La République en Marche could take up to 75 percent of the new French national assembly. Exit polls will be out Sunday at 8 p.m.

Fall of the (French) house of socialism: The once mighty Socialists, who ran every level of government in France just five years ago, are facing huge financial losses as a result of an election meltdown and may have to sell their iconic headquarters. Nicholas Vinocur and Quentin Aries.

Another Macron ethics investigation: Buzzfeed reports a French prosecutor has launched an investigation into Corinne Vignon, a La République en Marche candidate who is favored to win a seat near Toulouse in Southern France. Vignon allegedly didn’t declare she had a side job as an astrologist to tax authorities.

PODCAST DU JOUR — Pierre Briançon and Nicholas Vinocur discuss the Macron era on the brink of its parliamentary majority and first significant problems.

FINLAND — OPEN DOOR RIPS UP FINLAND’S POLITICAL RULEBOOK: While in absolute terms, the number of migrants coming to Finland isn’t striking, it has increased in recent years, fueling a divisive debate in the country, reports Marion Solletty. The extent to which the issue has fractured political stability was made clear earlier this week, when Prime Minister Juha Sipilä threatened to break up the government after The Finns, one of his coalition partner parties, chose an anti-immigrant MEP as its leader.

SPAIN — THE NEW CATALANS: As xenophobia rises across Europe, Catalonian nationalists have been remarkably welcoming toward migrants. That stance has the potential to pay off, reports Saim Saeed, as the region prepared to hold a planned referendum on independence on October 1. “For migrants, the case for independence … [involves] the promises of employment, papers and dignity … Under Spanish labor laws, many recent migrants are unable to secure proper contacts with paid holidays. That would be fixed in an independent Catalonia [activists claim].”

CYPRUS — HALLOUMI THE BIG CHEESE IN REUNIFICATION TALKS: The European Commission is currently considering whether to award special legal protection (a so-called geographical indication) to halloumi cheese, which originates from the divided Cyprus. With Cyprus reunification talks expected to resume later this month, that decision has turned into an unexpected point of EU leverage in bringing the Greek and Turkish communities together. Simon Marks and Sara Stefanini have this cheesy story.

BELGIUM — WHERE IS YVAN MAYEUR? Since he resigned as mayor of the city of Brussels over the Samu Social scandal, Brussels’ outspoken ex-mayor Yvan Mayeur is nowhere to be seen.

PRAGUE POSTCARD … Czech politics took another dramatic turn during Playbook’s visit. Bohuslav Sobotka, the Czech prime minister, stepped down from his second role as chairman of his Social Democratic Party. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek then rolled him to become the party’s candidate for prime minister in October’s election.

Growing awareness of colonial legacy fuels today’s radicalization, says the Czech foreign minister. 

Brexit thoughts from Barnier’s long-time adviser: The most wanted man in Prague Thursday was Michel Barnier’s adviser Stefaan De Rynck, who tried to take the heat out of Brexit frustration on both sides of the talks. Highlights:

— “If we can start with a positive spirit together we can make progress quickly.”
— It is “important to take the drama out of the negotiations.”
— “There’s no guarantee” that current rights are legally enforceable after Brexit, unless the European Court of Justice provides that guarantee.
— “We want a deal.”
— “We all want to avoid” a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Other Brexit insights …

“’Brexit means Brexit’ is a bit like telling a toddler ‘bedtime means bedtime.’ Yes there will be a bedtime, but how, when, why?” Tim Oliver, LSE.

“We should stop talking about soft Brexit. There is no soft Brexit. It would be better to speak of a half-Brexit.” Elvire Fabry, Jacques Delors Institute.

“If we can’t agree on tariffs we’re really screwed.” Glenn Vaughan, British Chamber of Commerce.

THE EX-FILES: Pierre Vimont, the former French diplomat and secretary-general of the European External Action Service, on ‘Bringing Brexit back to reality’ in Carnegie Europe. 

EU BUDGET CLARIFICATION: When Playbook mentioned a looming clash over the next EU budget Thursday, that was a reference to the next multi-year EU budget, which is yet to be agreed, not the EU accounts for 2018.


NEW BELGIAN POLITICAL MAGAZINE: Wilfried aims to “reinvent the frame of Belgian political journalism” by reporting on people and trends free of the noise of “micro-incidents.” Think of it as slow journalism, published three times a year. The first issue is out now, and a video trailer here.

BRUXIT: Etienne Ranaivoson, who worked with Alexis Dutertre as the French “Mertens” (the right hand of each country’s deputy permanent representative to the EU) will join French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s cabinet, as technical adviser on European affairs.

APPOINTED: Patricia Reilly, the pride of Cavan, Ireland, is the new deputy chief of staff for Tibor Navracsics, the European commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport. Reilly is a veterinary surgeon and barrister, and used to work for Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. She replaces Alicja Magda Herbowska.