EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 17-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 17-03-2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Parcel bombs stoke fears as terrorist group reappears

The Hellenic Police was on Thursday coordinating with ELTA, the Greek postal service, in a bid to ensure that no further dangerous packages leave the country after parcel bombs were sent from Greece to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Paris.


Athens reacts angrily to Reuters report over snap election prospect

The Greek prime minister’s office reacted angrily to a same-day Reuters report asserting that the embattled leftist government in Athens is considering snap elections.


Tsipras to address Parliament as Brussels official rules out April deal

At a time of increasing government jitters over the delays in wrapping up negotiations with the country’s international creditors, Alexis Tsipras is expected to use Prime Minister’s Question Time in Parliament on Friday to present an update on the course and content of the talks, and a time frame for their conclusion.


ATHEX: Minor growth in stock prices

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 636.13 points, adding 0.50 percent to Wednesday’s 632.97 points. The large-cap FTSE 25 index expanded 0.56 percent to 1,698.68 points.


Gov’t tables deferred tax amendment

The government on Thursday tabled in Parliament the eagerly awaited amendment to the law on deferred tax assets and tackling bank losses by writing off or selling nonperforming loans. The extension of the deferred tax period for losses from NPLs to 20 years is one of the major pending issues for the sector that the head of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), Daniele Nouy, also referred to during her visit to Athens this week.


Fresh tax arrears of 1.6 bln euros created in January

Taxpayers’ expired debts are growing rapidly. According to figures released on Thursday by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, Greeks created new tax arrears of 1.63 billion euros in January 2017.


Greek ship register springs a leak

The removal of 62 vessels from the Greek ship register within the space of a year highlights the Greek flag’s declining competitiveness. Along with the losses observed in 2015, the Greek register appears to have shrunk by 100 oceangoing ships in just two years.







KATHIMERINI: Terrorism exported

ETHNOS: Alter regarding new parcels from terrorists

TA NEA: Waiting for Scarlet…

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: A lie that was loved by New Democracy

AVGI: “Short-selling” stability

RIZOSPASTIS: EU predicts “high-tension” clashes and prepares “battle forces”

KONTRA NEWS: The impunity of AGB and Pollsters ends

DIMOKRATIA: Extreme scenarios regarding the imposition of martial law

NAFTEMPORIKI: Overdue debts explode

IMERISIA: Banks receive twin support

IF YOU READ ONE THING TODAY, MAKE IT THIS: Sam Knight’s sublime long read on what happens after Queen Elizabeth II dies. “She is venerated around the world. She has outlasted 12 U.S. presidents. She stands for stability and order. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and her subjects are in denial that her reign will ever end. That’s why the palace has a plan.”  

EUROGROUP MONDAY: EU officials say it will be a short meeting. That doesn’t mean creditors are any closer to an agreement with the Greek government, Francesco Guarascio and Lefteris Papadimas report. In fact, they’re “wide apart.

Transparency International is ramping up its campaign against the curious informality of the Eurogroup, which doesn’t publish minutes of its meetings and does not have a Twitter account. Oh, and because you don’t need to meet any specific criteria to lead it or be tossed out, the status of its president, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, is not clear in the aftermath of his Dutch Labor Party bombing out in the Netherlands election Wednesday.


**A message from the EPP Group: The electoral victory of the pro-European parties in the Netherlands is very good news. The anti-Europeans are the big losers. “We learned from that that we have to speak in plain language and to seek political confrontation with the radicals,” says our Chairman Manfred Weber.**

COMMISSION — VESTAGER’S TECH THOUGHT LEADERSHIP PLAY: The European commissioner for competition sounded the alarm Thursday over algorithms used by search engines, e-commerce and social media sites that risk creating an “alternative reality” for users and “could even undermine our democracy.”

“We need to think especially carefully about the answers that algorithms are giving us,” said Margrethe Vestager in a speech. “The trouble is, it’s not easy to know exactly how those algorithms work … and yet the decisions they make affect us all.” She also said the growing reliance on software and artificial intelligence to set prices online raised serious risks of collusion. “Companies may be using algorithms to make their price-fixing agreements more effective.” More information for POLITICO Pro Tech subscribers.

COMMISSION — NEW ANTITRUST WHISTLEBLOWER TOOL: The European Commission launched a new tool Thursday to make it easier for individuals to alert it about secret cartels and other antitrust violations, while maintaining anonymity.

MIGRATION — REFUGEE EDUCATION EFFORT LAUNCHED IN TURKEY AS WIDER DEAL HITS TURBULENCE: A program for 230,000 refugee children to attend schools in Turkish camps kicked off Thursday.

EU-Turkey migrant deal in peril (again): “The year-old deal between the EU and Turkey that helped control an unprecedented migration crisis is at risk of collapse amid a diplomatic feud between Ankara and European governments,” write David M. Herszenhorn and Jacopo Barigazzi.

By the numbers: 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in European Union countries in 2016, according to official data. Some 60 percent of applications were in Germany, slightly fewer than in 2015.

COUNCIL — ESTONIA MEETS COMMISSION LEADERS AHEAD OF PRESIDENCY: Alexander Italianer, Commission secretary general, and Martin Selmayr, President Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff, were in Tallinn Thursday to discuss the Baltic country’s forthcoming presidency.

G20 — MOSCOVICI AND SCHÄUBLE PREVIEW FINANCE MINISTERS AND CENTRAL BANKERS SUMMIT: Today and Saturday Commissioner Pierre Moscovici will participate in the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany. Attendees might skip discussions on trade amid differing views, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said. “It’s possible that we explicitly exclude the topic of trade in Baden-Baden and say that can only be resolved at the summit of the state and government leaders” in Hamburg in July, he told Reuters on Thursday. Moscovici told reporters the meeting would “reaffirm our commitments to a fair and transparent taxation, for free trade, and for a stronger and more inclusive growth.”



HOW EU’S DISINFORMATION REVIEW ANTICIPATED ATTACKS ON CANADA’S FOREIGN MINISTER: “Terry Glavin traces Moscow’s ‘Nazi-grandfather’ calumny through a maze of cranks, propagandists and Putin fanciers — to Canada’s mainstream media.” h/t Jamie Kirchick

RT, THE KREMLIN’S TV CHANNEL, LAUNCHES FACT-CHECK SERVICE: The service launched on the third anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Crimea. It seems to be focused on debunking reporting about Russia.

DIPLOMATIC GREAT AND GOOD SPEAK OUT AGAINST RUSSIA’S CRIMEA OCCUPATION: A collection of reactions here, from figures such as ex-Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Estonia’s former President Toomas Ilves.


Mark Rutte’s ‘right kind of populism,’ dissected by Naomi O’Leary. “A defeat for ‘the wrong kind of populism.’ That’s how Prime Minister Mark Rutte described the Dutch election result — implying that there is a right kind, and that he deployed it to defeat Geert Wilders.”

Fear is good: The election shows that, for better or worse, European politics remains local, writes Matthew Karnitschnig. The Brexit and Trump populist waves crashed too close to shore in the Netherlands, and instead of following the tide, the Dutch, spooked that a victory for Geert Wilders would brand their country racist or push the EU to breaking point, pushed aside their other fears, about immigration, Islam and globalization.

Mark Rutte’s VVD party came first overall, but an electoral map shows it won barely a dozen municipalities. More here and here.

The coalition equation is complex, reports Cynthia Kroet, but here’s everything you need to know about the machinations to build to a new government.


Brexit, the board game! More fun than a bag full of Article 50s: Paul Dallison and Dom McKenzie bring you Brexit, the board game. Print your own A3 version — or pick up a print copy of this week’s POLITICO — and gather the family around. The winner is the first person to get to the “Phew! Glad that’s over” square. No cheating, unless you’re Michael Gove.

May blocks Scottish referendum: Now is not the time,” May told ITV, a message unlikely to satisfy independence campaigners.

Oops — UK government Brexit plan website broken on debut: Prime Minister Theresa May’s new “Plan for Britain” website stopped working Thursday shortly after its launch, offering error messages in place of her vision for the country’s future outside the European Union.

Dutch election implications for Brexit: Theresa May seems likely to be facing a more confident EU instead of one careening towards Nexit and Frexit when she triggers Article 50 in coming days, writes Alexander Kneepkens.

More on the EU’s negotiating directive: Thursday’s Playbook reported on the Commission’s wish to keep May to her word that “Brexit means Brexit.” In other words: no broader negotiating until the terms of the legal divorce are agreed. But how will the EU make that happen in practice?

“The negotiating directive will directly translate this principle,” said Playbook’s senior Commission source. “The number of topics to be discussed are quite limited. It is basically the U.K.’s time-limited and continuing financial obligations (the so-called Brexit bill) and the rights of citizens.

“There may be a few months where the parties are not really talking to each other. [If] the U.K. says we want to discuss tariffs and the [location of] the European Banking Authority and the space program, and what happens to [Britain’s European Commissioner Julian] King … [the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel] Barnier will have a simple answer: ‘This is not in my mandate to negotiate with you.’

“Barnier will not be legally allowed to negotiate on trade, on customs, on whether the U.K. can still participate in the Horizon 2020 research program. Will Prince Charles continue to get some agricultural payments? It’s not part of the Brexit negotiations.”

Summer milestone: Playbook’s source added there will be no attempts to “run down the clock” by the Commission. “The Commission wants to start as soon as possible. We will be ready and we want to achieve some concrete understanding on the points to be agreed and the external messages by the summer.” In Commission terms that means the end of July.

ICYMI — Playbook Brexit Power Matrix: We mapped the 81 people and organizations you need to know about during the negotiations.

BELARUS OPINION — EUROPE, KEEP AN EYE ON MINSK. Andrew Wilson writes that despite a month of protests and simmering tensions with Russia, the West has, so far, largely ignored the state of Belarus. That’s a mistake. “As exports to Russia stagnate, Belarus’s factories have been laying off workers. The two countries are engaged in a vicious trade war. … many in the country have become alarmed by Russia’s campaign against Ukraine, which has raised the fear that the Kremlin might do something similar in Belarus. … Lukashenko’s advisers are also whispering in his ear about the dangers of … a real popular uprising. But a crackdown on mass protest would also play into Russia’s hands — and perhaps give it the excuse it needs to intervene.”

SWEDEN — TERROR FEARS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS: “When we are getting closer to the election, there will be more political violence and threats from left-wing and right-wing extremists,” said Anders Thornberg, the head of Säpo, Sweden’s security agency.

LITHUANIA — MP COULD BE IMPEACHED OVER RUSSIA TIES: A member of Lithuania’s parliament is facing impeachment proceedings and an investigation into whether his ties to Russian business and media posed a threat to national security, writes Andrius Sytas.

ROMANIA — 1,000 POLICE OFFICERS PROTEST AGAINST LOW PAY: “Officers from various areas of Romania gathered outside the interior ministry on Thursday, yelling ‘You thieves!’ Some blew whistles or vuvuzelas and waved Romanian flags.”

FRANCE — TWO ATTACKS: On Thursday an envelope bomb exploded at the International Monetary Fund in Paris, which appears to have been sent from Greece, and a shooting in a high-school in Grasse, Southern France.


How to charm a German chancellor: Are you an American president keen to charm the world’s most powerful woman? Konstantin Richter has some tips. Rule number one: Leave the surprises at home. Rule number two: Brush up on your Chinese history (especially the bits about a wall). Top tip: Make sure stuffed cabbage is on the menu.

Spicer says UK spied on Trump, UK not impressed: Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer made the claim from the press podium. British intelligence officials are not amused. In a rare public statement, a GCHQ spokesman said the comment was “nonsense.”

WONK CORNER … It’s a bumper edition today.

First, a structural reform article from The Economist, about why Australia has been able to avoid a recession for 25 years.

Second, the winning essays from the 2017 John Houston essay contest, run by the European Public Affairs Consultancies Association (EPACA), on the topic “A world of distrust: how does it affect public affairs.” First prize went to François Barry from Cambre Associates, runners up were Saagar Dattani, from GPlus Europe, and Andrea Tognoni from Cambre Associates.

Third, a paper on where politics and mergers meetFrom FTI Consulting.

The most popular posts from thewonk.eu this week …

The future of Europe – the case for a Scenario 6!, by KEA European Affairs.

Brexit: The final countdown to triggering Article 50, FTI Consulting.

Trilateral cooperation in the Trump era, Friends of Europe.


WELCOME TO OSTBELGIEN:  The “German-speaking community of Belgium” will now be known as Ostbelgien, or East Belgium, in order to be sexier and attract more workers. The region was already rebranded twice in the last century: once by the Versailles Treaty, which handed the area from Germany to Belgium, and again by the Nazis who annexed it back for Germany.

GATHERING AGAIN: Pulse of Europe, an EU-wide rally for the European future, is back for Round 2 this Sunday at 2 p.m. in Place de la Monnaie.

LEAVING: Jan Müller leaves the Commission after a long career.

VALE: Martin Smith, former head of the EU, competition and regulatory practice for law firm Simmons & Simmons.