EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 25-04-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 25-04-2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Greece primary surplus well above target in 2016, EU Commission says

Greece’s primary surplus was 4.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year, significantly above the target set for Athens under its bailout program, the European Commission said on Monday.


Energy issues on agenda of creditors’ reps in Athens on Tues.

Creditors’ top auditors and negotiators return to Athens on Tuesday for high-level talks aimed at finally concluding the second review of the Greek program (third bailout), with the latest “unofficial deadline” now being the May 22 Eurogroup meeting.


German-led consortium lands Thessaloniki Port

The improved bid of 231.92 million euros sufficed for the consortium of Deutsche Invest Equity Partners (DIEP) with the subsidiary of France’s CMA CGM (Terminal Link) and the Savvidis Group (Belterra Investments Ltd) to win the tender for a 67 percent stake in Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH).


Direct, indirect tax collection beats targets for Q1 2017; VAT remittances slump

Tax revenues exceeded a first-quarter 2017 target by 228 million euros, reaching 9.516 billion euros in total. Based on Greek finance ministry figures, the over-performance is primarily due to additional direct and indirect tax collection of arrears from previous years.


Confiscations of debtors’ assets grow, as do fresh debts

The confiscation by tax authorities of the salaries, pensions, rental revenues savings, properties and other assets of people with debts to the state is continuing apace.


Greek bond yields tumbled on Monday

Greek 10-year government bond yields fell sharply on Monday to a four-month low of 6.54 percent.


ATHEX: French polls, surplus boost stocks on the Athens bourse

The results of the first round of the French presidential election led all eurozone exchanges to gains on Monday, and Athens’s was no exception. Hitting its third highest daily turnover in 2017, the Greek market moved closer to the 700-point mark, helped also by Eurostat’s confirmation of the 2016 primary surplus data, which bode well for the future.







KATHIMERINI: Debts and confiscations hike

ETHNOS: 9 “windows” in the new forest maps

TA NEA: Surplus of debts

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The last tango of the bi-polar political system in France

AVGI: The French face the extreme right

RIZOSPASTIS: Government and the Troika tie the noose for the Greek people

KONTRA NEWS: The state is going to confiscate real estate assets of the accused for corruption and tax-evasion

DIMOKRATIA: 2,3-trillion-Euro treasure below our feet

NAFTEMPORIKI: Asphyxiating financial conditions

IMERISIA: Signal aimed at bankers regarding loans

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES GO GREEN IN NEW CLIMATE CONSENSUS: Fossil fuel companies such as RWE, have joined with mining giants like BHP, and banks including HSBC and Bank of America, to work with the World Resources Institute and other NGOs to create several plans to help advanced economies meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement without slashing economic growth. Full report of the Energy Transitions Committee| Executive summary.

COUNCIL — GENERAL AFFAIRS MINISTERS AND ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS GATHER: Ministers will discuss cohesion policy in Luxembourg (details here) while environment ministers will discuss climate change adaptation.

Mogherini used Moscow visit to chide Russia over Crimea: The EU foreign policy chief only now made her first official trip to Moscow — demonstrating how much relations have soured, reports David Herszenhorn.

COMMISSIONERS’ DIARIES TODAY: Cecilia Malmstrom is meeting U.S. Senators John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, who sit on the Senate Finance Committee, in Washington where she’ll accept an award as the trade world’s ‘Woman of the Year.’ Vice President Frans Timmermans is meeting Ryszard Petru, leader of Nowoczesna, a liberal opposition party in Poland.

**A message from Danfoss: There has never been a better time to start #RethinkingEfficiency. The review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) presents an unmissable opportunity to accelerate the optimization of technical building systems. Join the webinar today and learn how we can put Europe on a fast track to highly efficient, connected buildings.**

COMMISSION — 10 YEARS OF EU — US OPEN SKIES: A decade after a landmark agreement removed significant restrictions on pricing, capacity and flight frequencies, allowing airlines to fly without limitations from any point in the EU to any point in the U.S., POLITICO’s Cathy Buyck brought together the two chief negotiators, Daniel Calleja (EU) and John Byerly (U.S.) in an exclusive podcast.

COMMISSION — MINISTERS URGED TO CONSIDER NEW FORMAT FOR TURKEY RELATIONS: Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who is responsible for negotiations with countries wanting to join the bloc, including Turkey, called on EU foreign ministers who are meeting Friday to consider a new format for relations with Turkey, Reuters reported. “The current situation is not sustainable,” Hahn said.

COMMITTEE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT: The Commission’s Androulla Kaminara will brief MEPs on looming famines in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. MEPs on the budgetary control and culture committees will debate the future of Euronews, the TV network NBC wants to buy a share of. The internal market committee votes on new measures to make products and services accessible to people with disabilities and will hear from Commissioners Elzbieta Bienkowska and Vera Jourova.

ECA — 2016 ACTIVITY REPORT OF THE EU’s AUDITORS:  English version here; other languages here.

W20 IN BERLIN — IVANKA TRUMP FACES A SKEPTICAL GLOBAL AUDIENCE: If German Chancellor Angela Merkel learned one thing during her trip to the White House, it was that Ivanka Trump is her best back-channel to the president, reports Annie Karni. That’s why Ivanka is on-stage today with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the IMF’s Christine Lagarde, discussing women’s entrepreneurship at this German G20 presidency event. 

BY THE NUMBERS — WESTERN EUROPEAN MIDDLE CLASS: The middle class is expanding in France, Netherlands and U.K. but has shrunk in Germany, Italy and Spain, according to a new Pew Research Center report. Denmark is steady and top of the league table with 80 percent of Danes living in middle-class households. Pew is also providing online income calculator in multiple European languages for checking if you are middle class are not. Calculator here | Report here


The final first round results: Macron 23.75 percent | Le Pen 21.53 percent | Francois Fillon 19.91 percent | Jean-Luc Melenchon 19.64 percent | Benoit Hamon 6.35 percent.

Voting numbers by income levelLe Pen does better with lower income voters, Macron is better with those with higher income.

Voting by geography: Le Monde argues that Le Pen’s job now will be to attract those who voted for conservative candidate Francois Fillon and centre-right Nicolas Dupont-Aignan in the first round. The main task of her opponent, the liberal Emmanuel Macron, will be to keep those who voted for socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon from abstaining or spoiling their ballots.

PLAYBOOK ANALYSIS: Macron’s biggest challenge won’t be winning. Under even the most optimistic scenario, it seems virtually impossible for Marine Le Pen to get beyond 47 percent of the vote, as Pierre Briancon reports. Rather, Macron’s biggest challenge will be figuring out how to govern. If he wins, he’s unlikely to have a parliamentary majority and will be stuck with a country split in five directions (center, left, right, extreme-right and apathetic).

Though Eurasia Group argued in a note to clients that Le Pen still has a 35 percent chance of victory, Le Pen’s real challenge isn’t winning on May 7 but rather being ready to capitalize if Macron falters. The lesson from 2002, when her father Jean-Marie Le Pen made the second round, was that within three years angry French voters to bared their teeth against the EU by rejecting the EU constitution.

It took Francois Mitterrand three attempts and 16 years to move from second to first place in the French presidential race. He was still president 30 years after his first time in the presidential run-off vote. Imagine a 78- year-old Marine Le Pen in 2047, finally preparing to leave office after two terms as president.

The Macron push continues: President Francois Hollande joined other Socialist Party figures in endorsing Macron. Meanwhile, the Commission confirmed Macron is (and actually was before the vote) its preferred candidate, and Mogherini was forced to defend herself against accusations of election meddling after she tweeted her support for Macron. The rest of what happened on Monday is here on POLITICO’s blog.

Fillon retires from Parliament, door re-opened for SarkozyFrancois Fillon decided not to lead the parliamentary campaign for Les Republicains nor run to retain his parliamentary seat. That opens the way for Nicholas Sarkozy, or a candidate he supports, to make a bid for prime minister. He lunched with party leaders Monday.

Commissioner Pierre Moscovici speaks out: The European finance and tax commissioner warned against complacency regarding Le Pen’s candidacy. “Her number of votes is scary,” Moscovici said.

Defense-less — How will Macron and Le Pen respond to defense realities: Paris can no longer go it alone on defense. Paul Taylor examines whether the presidential candidates can cope with that fact.

Implications for European and foreign policy: German Council on Foreign Relations infographic contrasting the candidates here.

Macron’s symbols: The first-round winner likes to choose his symbolism carefully. On Sunday night, he chose La Rotonde, a fancy Parisian Brasserie near Montparnasse favored by Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The guests were also symbolic: green-left hero Daniel Cohn-Bendit; Macron’s political mentor and former Mitterrand adviser Jacques Attali; actors and showbiz figures including Francois Berleand and Stephane Bern, writer Erik Orsenna, architect Roland Castro and actress Line Renaud. Cross-party, cross-sector, cool — and exactly salt of the earth.

Barrier breakers: Macron would be the youngest French president (and the youngest French leader since Napoleon). Le Pen would be the first female president.

Top Tweet: Macron vs LePen is about the “end of the economic left-right of the 20th century and a return to the left-right of the 19th century of liberalism versus conservative-nationalism.”

GREECE — COUNTDOWN TO DEBT SHOWDOWN HAS STARTED: Athens left IMF’s spring meetings empty-handed. Now it’s only a matter of time before the final showdown, writes Matthew Karnitschnig.

EU and IMF officials arrived in Athens Monday night with the goal of preventing such a showdown by agreeing on policy reform details that would let creditors hand over the next batch of cash in Greece’s €86 billion bailout program. According to Teneo Intelligence’s Wolfango Piccoli, the Greek government is now focused on “expansionary countermeasures and Greece’s inclusion in the (ECB’s) Quantitative Easing program.” The political capital they have to spend is their 2016 primary budget surplus which is bigger than expected. Germany still isn’t ready to offer debt relief though, especially not during their election season.

GERMANY — THE OTHER WOMAN WHO COULD STOP SCHULZ: Never mind German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it’s Sahra Wagenknecht and her Die Linke (Left Party) who could stop Schulz uniting the left and taking the Chancellery. Wagenknecht isn’t impressed with Schulz’s new campaign rhetoric, telling POLITICO’s Janosch Delcker: “It’s conspicuous that Schulz’s transformation to become a supporter of social justice happened just on the same day that [he was made] the candidate for chancellor.” Wagenknecht knew Schulz when she served as an MEP in Brussels between 2004 and 2009.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jim Messina, from Team Obama, is back on board with the British Conservatives after a successful 2015 U.K. general election strategy stint. Meanwhile, Hayden Allan an adviser to Philip Hammond Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned

WANT TO BE A LABOUR MP? APPLY HERE. Things are not looking good when a party has to look for candidates on Twitter, six weeks out from a national election. Here’s the application form.

LABOUR TO SCRAP GOVERNMENT BREXIT PAPER AND GO FOR SOFT EXIT: A Labour government would scrap U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU exit plan and focus on “retaining the benefits of the single market” for the sake of the economy, the party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer is scheduled to announce today

CONSERVATIVES ON TOP IN WALES: The Labour Party has dominated Welsh politics for a century, but is set to fall to a clear second place in 2017.


EU BREXIT SHERPAS STAY UNITED AS SUMMIT COUNTDOWN BEGINS: An EU source at Monday’s meeting of national Brexit representatives in Brussels said there were no “substantial changes to the proposed approach and main elements.” A revised text of the EU’s negotiation framework will now be discussed by national leaders April 29. The guidelines put top priority on securing guarantees of citizens’ rights and hashing out the financial terms of the U.K.’s withdrawal. They also put emphasis on the importance of border issues, particularly related to Ireland and Gibraltar.

COMMISSION HOGAN RAILS AGAINST ‘EMPIRE 2.0’ IN BREXIT SPEECH: At the Irish Farmers Association conference, Commissioner Phil Hogan called Brexit the country’s “era-defining issue” and expressed hope there would be “a greater sense of realism in the debate.” Hogan said that Brussels wouldn’t negotiate a separate agriculture deal with Britain once it leaves the European Union. Hogan praised May as a cool head struggling to control the “extremist wing of her party,” but dismissed British notions of “Empire 2.0” as fanciful given the trade-offs the U.K. would have to make to secure quick deals.


PLAYBOOK’S ‘NEW GUARD’ POWER LIST: Your shortcut to who you have to know in the new Washington, by Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and Daniel Lippman.

TRUMP’S OBSESSION WITH CABLE TV: Foreign diplomats have urged their governments’ leaders to appear on television when they’re stateside as a means of making their case to Trump, and U.S. lawmakers reportedly regard a televised appearance as nearly on par with an Oval Office meeting.


HOW FRENCH BELGIAN RESIDENTS VOTED: Over 46,000 French citizens voted in Belgium — Macron got 37.5 percent of the vote, Fillon 22.5 percent, Melenchon 20.4 percent and Le Pen finished last on just 7 percent.


STAT DU JOUR: Belgian police checked the speed of a record 1.36 million vehicles during a 24-hour anti-speeding blitz last week. Of those vehicles 34,000 — or a record low of 2.5 percent — were caught speeding. That’s down from 5.8 percent of drivers caught speeding in 2016’s blitz.

MOVED SIDEWAYS: Paul Nemitz, the high-profile director of the Commission’s justice department (who was in charge of the Commission’s data protection revolution, including sensitive EU—U.S. relations) has been moved from his post after a five-year run. He is now “principal advisor for developing strategies for cross-cutting justice policies and actions,” according to an internal email seen by Playbook. Emmanuel Crabit is the new acting director for “Fundamental rights and Rule of Law.”

Reading between the lines: In Commission terms you know it’s a sudden or political move when the replacement is an “acting” director or head of unit. Planned replacements don’t look like that.