EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 22-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 22-03-2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Schaeuble says opposition support needed for measures

As Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos struggled on with tough bailout negotiations in Brussels on Tuesday, comments by his European counterparts about the possible need for the opposition in Greece to back economic measures after 2019, when the next Greek general elections are scheduled to take place, spurred political upheaval in Athens.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217062/article/ekathimerini/news/schaeuble-says-opposition-support-needed-for-measures

Athens wants reference to ‘social model’ in EU joint statement; bid to deflect IMF

The embattled leftist government in Athens on Tuesday essentially confirmed same-day reports claiming that the Greek side is demanding a reference to “Europe’s Social Model” in a joint statement by EU’s 27 member-states, on the occasion of a weekend commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1216608/reports-athens-wants-reference-to-social-model-in-eu-joint-statement-bid-to-deflect-imf

IMF emphasizes broader tax base in Greece to ease punishing tax rates

The IMF’s standing demand to slash the tax-free annual income threshold and abolish tax breaks in Greece — with the former currently at roughly 8,600 euros — is reportedly aligned with the Fund’s “recipe” to boost growth in crisis-battered country and to increase liquidity in state coffers.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1216567/imf-emphasizes-broader-tax-base-in-greece-to-ease-punishing-tax-rates

All defendants acquitted in decade-long Vatopedi case

“Much ado about nothing” was the final result of a nearly decade-old political and judicial furor surrounding a controversial land swap between the Greek state and a Mount Athos monastery, the Vatopedi case, named after the monastery. All 14 defendants in the case, including the abbot of Vatopedi, Efraim, other monks, notaries and attorneys involved in the land-for-lakeside properties contracts, as well as former directors of state-run real estate holdings companies, a former agriculture ministry general secretary and others were acquitted by a three-justice appellate court in Athens.

http://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1216490/all-defendants-acquitted-in-decade-long-vatopedi-case

OECD records ‘reform fatigue’ over the last couple of years

Structural reforms have slowed down in Greece since 2015, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This finding is accompanied by a broad range of recommendations, from the liberalization of networks to the application of policies to assist the poorest people.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217067/article/ekathimerini/business/oecd-records-reform-fatigue-over-the-last-couple-of-years

Plan for PPC provides for sale of 40 pct of capacity by June 2018

The government has been forced by the country’s creditors to return to a three-year-old plan for the sale of part of the production capacity of Public Power Corporation, although this time, the so-called “Small PPC” to be privatized is expected to constitute more than the 30 percent originally foreseen, and in many respects the terms will be tougher too.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217069/article/ekathimerini/business/plan-for-ppc-provides-for-sale-of-40-pct-of-capacity-by-june-2018

Four suitors for Thessaloniki Port, Cosco is not involved

Four bids are expected to be tabled this week for the 67 percent stake in Thessaloniki Port Authority.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217070/article/ekathimerini/business/four-suitors-for-thessaloniki-port-cosco-is-not-involved

ATHEX: Late selling in bank stocks sends index south again

Reports that Monday’s Eurogroup had ended without any news of progress in the negotiations between Athens and its creditors inflicted a late blow on the Greek bourse benchmark yesterday, with the impact felt mostly by bank stocks. In fact the majority of stocks remained in the green on closing, unaffected by the concerns mainly coming from foreign investors.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/217050/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-late-selling-in-bank-stocks-sends-index-south-again

www.enikos.gr


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KATHIMERINI: Schaeuble says New Democracy’s support needed for measures

ETHNOS: Limitation in the transfers of teachers

TA NEA: They are asking the opposition to support the new measures

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Scandal without perpetrators

AVGI: What a miracle! All acquitted for the Vatopedi scandal

RIZOSPASTIS: Agreement includes automatic cuts in pensions

KONTRA NEWS: The conspiracy against Karamanlis and the Orthodox Church has collapsed

DIMOKRATIA: Historical vindication for Karamanlis

NAFTEMPORIKI: Like re-runs on TV

IMERISIA: Everything is going to be auctioned

MOSCOVICI AND DIJSSELBLOEM WERE MAIL BOMB TARGETS: A Commission source late Tuesday night said Greek authorities have confirmed to the European Commission and Dutch government that Pierre Moscovici, the European finance and taxation commissioner, and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem were the intended recipients of mail bombs (similar to the IMF bomb, according to the source) due to arrive at their offices this week. Watch out for more details throughout the day.

DIJSSELBLOEM NOT FIT FOR THE JOB, SAYS SOCIALIST LEADER PITTELLA: Parliament’s top Socialist, Gianni Pittella, attacked the finance official, saying Dijsselbloem was “not fit to be president of the Eurogroup.” The comments came after Dijsselbloem said: “I cannot spend all my money on liquor and women and plead for your support afterwards,” in reference to Greece’s fiscal habits and other high debt EU countries. Portugal’s foreign minister also criticized Dijsselbloem’s remarks. Incidentally, Greece recently granted Pittella honorary citizenship.

FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF BRUSSELS TERRORIST ATTACKS …

A year ago this morning hundreds were injured and 32 died in coordinated terror attacks across Brussels. You can find recollections of the day from Playbook readers in the Brussels Corner section at the end of Playbook.

Ceremonies today: Events will start at Zaventem Airport, where King Philippe and Queen Mathilde will lead victims, their family members and rescuers in a service for the 16 people killed there at 7:58 a.m. by suicide bombers Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui. The royal couple will then take the subway to Maalbeek, where Bakraoui’s brother Khalid blew himself up on a crowded train at 9:11 a.m., leaving another 16 people dead. There will be a “moment of noise,” meaning applause, and the unveiling of a memorial by Jean-Henri Compere near the Schuman roundabout. After the ceremonies, the dignitaries, victims and their families will head to the Residence Palace.

Logistics today: Maalbeek metro station will be closed until 10:30 a.m., along with a few of the roads around the station. Access to the Residence Palace will be limited until 1:30 p.m. and parking barred all day.

BELGIUM: WHAT’S FIXED AND STILL BROKEN. A year on, Belgium is a safer country. It did not allow itself to be divided in new ways (it is already divided in many). And yet some failures exposed that day remain. POLITICO examined what’s changed, what’s improved and what’s still broken.

THE PARIS AND BRUSSELS PLOTTER WHO GOT AWAY: Giulia Paravicini reports that there was a moment last summer when Belgian investigators believed they were about to nab the coordinator of the 2015 and 2016 terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. Like Salah Abdeslam before him, Oussama Atar, who investigators believe directed the deadly bombings from the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, got away. But unlike Abdeslam, he remains at large, and police say the trail has gone cold.

VICTIMS AND FAMILIES URGE EQUAL TREATMENT AND FASTER SUPPORT: Cameron Cain, whose husband Alexander Pinczowski and sister-in-law Sascha Pinczowski were murdered at Brussels airport, spoke to Playbook along with her father Jim Cain, a former United States ambassador to Denmark. You can read the interview here.

The Cains are campaigning for a radical overhaul of Belgium’s currently unfinished approach to supporting victims of the attacks, and described as “grossly inadequate” the current offers of support they have received. Even when complete, the system would discriminate against those who live outside of Belgium. The Cains want the Belgian government and insurers to “treat every victim the same,” and to follow the compensation and support model of the U.S. after the September 11 terror attacks. In the U.S., a victims’ fund that eventually paid out more than €7 billion to several thousand families was established just 11 days after the attacks. The response in Belgium has been much slower and less generous. Insurers have paid out just 10 percent of what they are likely to owe.

TOP READ — THE RUSSIAN STALINIST BEHIND THE TREATY OF ROME: Don’t expect anyone to mention Alexandre Kojève at this weekend’s 60th-anniversary celebration of the Treaty of Rome. Painter Wassily Kandinsky’s nephew and a Russian aristocrat, Kojève described himself as “Stalin’s conscience.” He was a philosophy professor and high-ranking French civil servant — and possibly a spy. Kojève was also one of the key negotiators who brokered the Treaty of Rome. Jacopo Barigazzi has more.

COUNCIL — EU27’S BREXIT SUMMIT WILL BE HELD APRIL 29, Council President Donald Tusk said. “We must do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU.”

COMMISSION — VESTAGER ON STAGE TODAY: Each competition commissioner, in addition to leveling eye-watering fines, also champions at least one or two legislative files. Margrethe Vestager will today show her softer side: She will give the readout of the College of Commissioners and present a reform aimed at strengthening national competition enforcers, including powers to collect data from phones and computers and provisions to protect them from political influence.

PARLIAMENT — LOBBYISTS MAY HAVE TO SIGN TRANSPARENCY REGISTER TO ENTER BUILDING: EU lobbyists looking to influence legislation should be required to sign the transparency register before being allowed to enter the European Parliament, according to a resolution approved by the Constitutional Affairs Committee Tuesday.

PARLIAMENT — MEPs AGREE ON MEASURES TO BOOST CONSUMER AGENCY POWERS: MEPs on the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection agreed on proposals to make it easier for consumer authorities to cooperate across borders. “Fraudsters don’t stop at the border,” said Vicky Ford, the committee’s chairwoman.

COMMITTEE OF REGIONS — BARNIER TO ADDRESS PLENARY SESSION: The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will appear before members of one of the EU’s lesser-known institutions, its assembly of regional politicians, for an hour from 4 p.m. Wednesday March 22. Immediately after that Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, and Elmar Brok, the EPP’s Brexit point-person, will appear, though in theory they are slated to speak about the future of Europe white paper rather than Brexit.

EU FINANCIAL REGULATORS TO BE SCRUTINIZED: The European Commission on Tuesday launched a public consultation on the operations of the European financial regulators, known as ESAs. ESAs have now much more powers than intended when they were established, making this an important review of how they operate individually, together, and with the EU institutions.

STEVE BANNON’S FRENCH FAR RIGHT INSPIRATIONS: It’s not Trump who is influencing France, but the Le Pens and Charles Maurras, a Catholic intellectual and father of extreme right French nationalism, who are shaping the Trump-Bannon war on American political orthodoxy, Emma-Kate Symon reports.

FRANCE — BENOÎT HAMON DOES BRUSSELS: Quentin Ariès watched the presidential candidate’s EU press conference. He addressed a rally in Brussels Tuesday evening, with 2,000 to 3,000 people in attendance. Spotted: Former Belgian PM Elio Di Rupo, economist Thomas Piketty and Green MEP Yannick Jadot.

NETHERLANDS — COALITION TALKS DOWN TO VVD, CDA, D66 AND GREENLEFT: Leaders of four Dutch parties have been invited to continue informal talks on forming a coalition in the wake of last week’s election.

ITALY — GRILLO’S 5STAR MOVEMENT HITS HIGH: Support for stand-up comedian Beppe Grillo’s party reached a high of 32.3 percent, putting it five points ahead of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party, which slid to 26.8 percent.

ROMANIA — POVERTY ASSISTANCE TURNS INTO ELECTORAL BRIBES: Poverty rates went up in Romania, to 25 percent from 23 percent over the course of receiving a nine-year, €500 million bloc of EU funding, reports Digit24.

BREXIT CORNER …

EU’s goal firmly set as ‘divorce first’: It’s Article 218 of the EU treaty, not Article 50, that will shape the future of the EU-U.K. trade deal, explains David Herszenhorn. “Article 50 clearly requires that negotiators ‘take account of the framework’ of a future relationship with the U.K. But EU officials and law experts said that the treaties also effectively block Barnier from negotiating such a relationship — whether that is a free trade deal, some kind of association agreement, or something else. To do so, Barnier must receive new negotiating directives under Article 218, which governs how accords are reached with ‘third countries or international organizations.’”

UK banks will get shortcut authorization to operate in EU: Reuters’ John O’Donnell reports banks in London that relocate operations to the eurozone after Brexit are likely to be spared a lengthy entry test by regulators, making it easier for them to shift.

Brits want to have cake and eat it: A survey shows most Brits — even those who voted Leave — would like to keep the benefits of being in the EU, sans immigration. That’s a problem for Theresa May, writes Charlie Cooper.

UK treaty mentions will be a ‘dead branch’: References to the U.K. are unlikely to be erased from the Treaty of Lisbon after Brexit and will instead be considered “obsolete,” according to a senior member of the European Parliament.

SCHUMAN REPORT: The Robert Schuman Foundation think tank presents at 6 p.m. today its annual report on the State of the Union in the MEPs’ restaurant in the European Parliament.

BRUSSELS ATTACKS REMEMBERED …

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson recounts her day at the Brussels Airport.

GMF ‘Eyewitness: Brussels Attacks’: Stories and images coordinated by Sarah Halls here.

Does Belgium deserve the infamous ‘failed state’ tag? Playbook’s analysis here in De Morgen.

Playbook readers sent in their memories too. Anonymous, unless otherwise stated …

“I was at the airport landing … Although no one could have expected the attacks, there were no clear instructions at the airport where to go and what to do. In fact, I learned about the attacks from browsing on my mobile and not from the authorities.”

“I was in the Maalbeek metro station, on the platform opposite the explosion. I was lucky and could escape unscathed after the explosion filled the station with black soot.”

As Commission staff were rushed out of their building above the Maalbeek metro station, “Some people found themselves in the middle of the wounded; there was no police and no ambulance when we evacuated … We went to a café on Rue de la Science, stayed there for about 30 minutes. There we heard the sirens of the ambulances, a good 20 to 30 minutes after the bomb.” European Commission official.

“In the evening when walking home I spotted a trail of blood drops of different sizes between our building and the entry of the metro station Maelbeek on Rue Joseph II. This I will never forget.” Employee at Rue Joseph II, 79.

“I’d flown out of Brussels Zaventem exactly 12 hours before the attack there. I should have been traveling Tuesday morning in fact but I changed my plans to travel with family instead … I wrote a love letter to Brussels that day, and it still holds true a year on.”  Meabh Maguire

“I was suspicious of taking the metro and decided to walk to work instead. On the way, I met a friend who took the metro in Schuman and his train was struck.”

“I got off at Maelbeek station 20 minutes before the bomb exploded there. It was my son’s first birthday so the feeling that he could have lost his mom on that day was with me for a long time.”

“[I was] one train behind the Maelbeek train, at Schuman. My wife rang me up in order to see whether she still had a husband.”

“I had taken that same metro only 10 minutes before and could have easily been one of the victims … I was so glad to get home safely with my kids later that day, and it was strange to see them playing, so oblivious to what had happened.”

“My wife and I were getting ready to move away from Brussels to Zurich … I tried to watch the TV and follow what the hell was going on. I was standing, as they [the movers] already wrapped our couch, and felt utterly lost. The day after we were stopped by nervous looking policemen, as we had our car packed with suitcases. As soon as they realized we were just as scared as they, we were let go, and we could continue our journey. A very bittersweet goodbye.”

Reactions to the security work of the Belgian and EU authorities …

In summary, you’re dissatisfied. You think the emergency services, when they turned up, did a great job, and you don’t think political leaders are doing enough to prevent attacks, including the root causes of attacks. Playbook readers’ best responses are on the Playbook Plus blog.

DIED: Martin McGuinness, who took the IRA into war and Sinn Féin into government, died yesterday at the age of 66.