EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 24-04-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 24-04-2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Creditors’ rep return to Athens on Tuesday to conclude staff-level agreement

The updated itinerary for finally concluding a delayed second review of the Greek program has creditors’ auditors returning to Athens on Tuesday with a goal to complete a staff-level agreement by May Day.


Greece blows EU-IMF bailout targets away with strong budget performance

Greece far exceeded its international lenders’ budget demands last year, official data showed on Friday, posting its first overall budget surplus in 21 years even when debt repayments are included.


Alpha Bank: Higher taxes, pension contributions preventing improvement in job market

Alpha Bank pointed to “tax and contribution fatigue” as preventing an improvement in the job market in crisis-battered, and by extension, in keeping the unemployment rate at a high level.


Banks aspire to begin online asset auctions within June

The country’s four systemic banks have evolved into some of the biggest property owners in Greece, obtaining ownership of assets worth over 40 billion euros in the past few years.


New self-employed professionals fund debuts with 201-mln€ deficit over first 2 months of existence

The new social security fund created from the merger of other funds covering self-employed professionals, including full-time farmers and beneficiaries of the main fund for press professionals (ETAT-MME), shows a deficit of 201.2 million euros over the first two months of its existence, Jan-Feb 2017.


Revenues from properties in a steady nosedive

Greece’s real estate market has been dealt a double blow in recent years: From 2010 to 2015 incomes from properties declined by 2.8 billion euros, while taxes have reached an annual average level of 3.18 billion.


Greeks ignore health insurance, opting to pay their own way

Greeks increased spending on healthcare by 30 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to a study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE).


ATHEX: Bourse ends week with a slide of 1.76 percent

A positive start to the week’s final session in the Athens stock market gave way to a moderate decline in the majority of stocks later in the day, extending the week’s losses for the benchmark, as trading volume remained disappointingly low for one more day.








KATHIMERINI: French elections standing in the heavy shadow of Brexit and terrorism.

TO VIMA: Kappa Research Poll shows Greeks confused. Everybody else is to blame, not us!

REAL NEWS: They have locked on former Finance Minister Giannos Papantoniou

PROTO THEMA: One more pension is going to be slashed in 2018

AVGI: French elections: European windsock

RIZOSPASTIS: Fight for contemporary needs against the capital and imperialistic war


ETHNOS: Swift erasure of agricultural loans

TA NEA: Democratic France is winning

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: France faces the worst choice possible

KONTRA NEWS: Germany’s dominion in Europe crumbles down

DIMOKRATIA: Le Pen earthquake sweeps Europe

NAFTEMPORIKI: No news on the debt

FRANCE DUMPS ITS POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT — 39-YEAR-OLD MACRON ON COURSE TO BE NEXT PRESIDENT: The pollsters have been vindicated. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are through to the presidential runoff May 7. France’s two major parties — the Républicains and the ruling Socialists — were relegated to third and fifth place respectively. The Socialists, who five years ago controlled every level of the French government, managed to get just over 6 percent of the vote.

French voters sent a clear message: They are sick of their scandal-prone political class. They are now also a step away from putting a cosmopolitan, pro-EU, economically liberal non-politician into the Élysée Palace. As you may have guessed, Macron is not exactly a French consensus candidate. In fact, the best analogy is the country will now get to choose between its Barack Obama and its Donald Trump.

European political leaders, including German ministers, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier broke with tradition and either congratulated Macron or called on the French to vote for him. Moderate right-wing heavyweights also lined up all night to back Macron.

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HOW FRANCE VOTED: Official results here. Pollsters generally underestimated voter turnout (it was around 78 percent), but otherwise got it right. Re-live Sunday’s action and the latest developments as they happen on POLITICO Europe’s live blog.

What happens next: There are just 12 days of campaigning, including a TV debate May 3, ahead of the May 7 runoff. Macron is favored by a long way over Le Pen by the supporters of François Fillon, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Benoît Hamon, but up to a third of those supporters are willing to “vote blanc,” or not show up, for the runoff.

Don’t forget June parliament vote: There’s a big question over whether either candidate is capable of achieving a parliamentary majority when that vote takes place in June. Macron did most to reach for that in his Sunday night speech: Starting now, he said, he wants “to start building a new majority for a new government … Everybody will be asked to play a role in it.”

Election takeaways …

Populism down but not out: That’s the most important of Pierre Briançon’s six takeaways from the vote, which saw populists win twice as many votes as France’s two biggest parties. Matthew Karnitschnig elaborates in more detail here.

Why France is different to Brexit and Trump’s election: To win the presidency, Le Pen needs to mobilize fundamental anger against the French political system and turn that into votes for herself and abstentions for Macron, especially from those who supported Fillon. Sunday’s turnout and the fact Macron is a non-party upstart don’t give Le Pen much of an opening.

Unlike Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, which were always neck-and-neck, Macron outpolls Le Pen by a mile in head-to-head match-ups. A snap poll taken by Ipsos Sunday night put the margin at 24 points. Le Pen’s campaign to detoxify her party took six years and for that she achieved a result five points higher than her father’s breakthrough 2002 result. She now has 12 days of campaigning to find another 24 points.

It was a good night for … Macron, the European Union, Mélenchon and François Hollande (whose party sunk to his own approval levels, proving it wasn’t just about him).

It was a bad night for … The French political establishment, Vladimir Putin (he needed Macron out), Le Pen, Fillon and Hamon.


Bild “Europe breathes on.” | Le Figaro: “A huge mess.” | El País: “Whoever wins, it is not clear that their parties have enough traction to get the deputies needed to govern.” | Magyar Hírlap, Hungary: “Whichever candidate wins, the EU is going to change.”  | New York Times: “A full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties.”


MACRON: “The people of France wanted change so badly … In one year we have entirely changed the French political situation.” He told his supporters: “You took our national destiny into your hands. Remain what you have been so far, determined and imaginative … You are the new face of French hope.”

POLITICO’s interview with Macron: The man now favored to be the next French president launched his En Marche! movement in Brussels a year ago this week, with an hour-long on-stage interview with POLITICO. Watch it here.

LE PEN: “French voters must seize this opportunity … globalization has put our civilization in danger.” Nicholas Vinocur on how Le Pen is setting up the second round as a battle for France’s soul.

FILLON: “The National Front has a history of violence and intolerance … There is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right. I shall, therefore, vote in favor of Emmanuel Macron. It is my duty to say so frankly to you. Now it is up to you to reflect on your conscience.”

HAMON: “Emmanuel Macron is not a man of the left, or entitled to speak as the candidate of the left,” but he is “not an enemy of the republic” as Le Pen is.

DID YOU KNOW? French Constitutional Council member Noëlle Lenoir has launched a “club” for current and former ministers of European Affairs. The group has 14 members including Michel Barnier, Harlem Désir, Günter Gloser and Claudie Haigneré. It met last week in a senate meeting room overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Asked if they were worried about a President Le Pen, one member told POLITICO: “Not a chance.” h/t Nicholas Vinocur.


COMMISSIONERS’ DIARIES: Vice President Frans Timmermans meets Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Hungary’s Central European University. High Representative Federica Mogherini is in Moscow to meet Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister. Vice President Jyrki Katainen and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani are in Bratislava today to discuss the future of Europe with the presidents of national parliaments. Vice President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Internal Market Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska are at the Hannover trade fair with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in Washington to meet Wilbur Ross, the U.S. secretary of commerce. Ross, in an interview with the Financial Times, indicated a willingness to restart TTIP negotiations.

COMMISSION — VESTAGER ON TIME 100 LIST: Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager made it onto Time’s 100 list, alongside people like Steve Bannon, Jeff Bezos and Alicia Keys. Her entry plaudits were delivered by former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

COMMISSION — WHEN IS A CONSULTATION OFFICIAL? This conundrum arises in the context of EU-funded research Playbook mentioned last week, in which a project called REISearch is asking Europeans about how they view future internet opportunities. While it’s EU-funded, the results will be debated in the European Parliament and the topics all touch EU policies, the Commission insisted to Playbook this does not mean the consultation is an official one, nor that it is linked to a legislative process. “This third party campaign is not an official EU or European Commission consultation process,” said the Commission’s digital policy spokeswoman Nathalie Vandystadt.

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COMMISSION — 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET REVIEW: The Commission is fond of setting dates to achieve a digital single market and then missing them. A mid-term review of the latest plans could raise another set of unrealistic expectations, according to a draft seen by POLITICO (story for POLITICO Pro Tech subscribers).

MIGRATION — HOLDING CENTERS LIKE ‘CONCENTRATION CAMPS’: Pope Francis II likened migrant holding centers to “concentration camps” on Saturday. Margaret Tuite, the European Commission’s coordinator for child rights, is also raising alarm bells about a four-year-old girl raped in a Greek refugee camp, and a wider problem of refugee children forced into prostitution to survive.

PARLIAMENT — VERHOFSTADT AND FARAGE SLANGING MATCH: Nigel Farage called Guy Verhofstadt, the Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, a “raving lunatic.” Verhofstadt responded by slamming him for spreading fake news.


How European intelligence services view Russia: The European Values think tank will launch a study reviewing each country’s stance at 5 p.m. RSVP here.

Holocaust theft study: A significant proportion of property stolen from Holocaust victims remains in the hands of those not entitled to it, according to a study published today. The Holocaust (Shoah) Immovable Property Restitution study shows that most western European countries are making efforts, but Poland in particular is lagging. Croatia, Lithuania, Macedonia, and Slovenia limit eligible claimants to those who are currently citizens of their respective countries. The study.

PARTY PEOPLE — EPP LEADER CALLS FOR MALTESE PM TO RESIGN OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS: “It is unprecedented that a prime minister of a country holding the presidency of the EU is under formal magisterial investigation and he still refuses to resign,” said Manfred Weber, EPP chairman, in a press release. Weber was referring to allegations that Joseph Muscat’s wife received $1 million from the daughter of Azerbaijan’s president through a company set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal.

IMF — RELATIONSHIP WITH TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WARMS UP: Matthew Karnitschnig on progress in the relationship in meetings in Washington D.C. over the past three days.

IMF — GREECE HEADED FOR DEBT SHOWDOWN: Greece-watchers had been hoping the IMF’s spring meetings would lead to a breakthrough in the country’s tortuous bailout negotiations. Instead, Greek officials left empty-handed.

In related news, Greece’s bailout monitors are due back in Athens today, reports Ekathimerini.

GERMANY — AfD MOVES FURTHER TO THE RIGHT: The far-right Alternative for Germany on Sunday chose two new lead candidates for September’s election, sidelining current head Frauke Petry. Petry had wanted to pull the party toward the political mainstream.

GERMANY — WORLD’S LARGEST INDUSTRIAL TRADE FAIR THIS WEEK: Hannover Messe is focusing on transformation. Astrid Dorner for Handelsblatt Global looks at 25 German innovations that will change the world.

PIC DU JOUR: Huge marches for science.


DOWNING STREET COMMS EXODUS: Lizzie Loudon, Prime Minister Theresa May’s press secretary, was the second departure from the team in a week after the director of communications Katie Perrior quit the day May called a snap election. The prime minister’s official spokeswoman Helen Bower, and her deputy Greg Swift, have also left Number 10 in recent months, with Bower joining the Foreign Office and Swift moving to the Department for Exiting the European Union.

POLITICO’s Sunday Crunch newsletter has you covered with a digest of the most important political developments in the U.K. each Sunday, especially useful this week given the French presidential vote.

BREXIT — HARSH TRUTH FOR EU’S MINNOWS: Estonians have to plan much earlier than others for how to cope with the U.K.’s departure.

UNEXPECTED READ: What a 1973 French novel tells us about Marine Le Pen, Steve Bannon and the rise of the populist right, by Cécile Alduy.