EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 29-03-2017

EYE ON REPUTATION – NewsRoom 29-03-2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Parliament backs bid to probe Papantoniou defense deals

MPs crossed swords in Parliament on Tuesday during a debate on whether a special House committee should be set up to conduct a preliminary investigation into the allegations against Yiannos Papantoniou but ultimately accepted the government’s proposal for a probe.


Greek FinMin appears optimistic over looming conclusion of review; admits to errors

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos appeared optimistic on Tuesday that the delayed second review of the bailout program “will conclude sooner than you expect,” even as no date has been given for a return of creditors’ negotiators to Athens and with heightened reactions this week surrounding the prospect of a memorandum-mandated partial sell-off of the state-run power company’s production units.


Greek government tells central banker to keep out of country’s politics

The Greek government told the country’s central bank chief to stay out of politics on Tuesday after he urged it to wrap up a long-delayed bailout review.


Former PM Costas Simitis calls for early elections as only solution

Former Socialist Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Tuesday that he “fears” the way negotiations are being conducted with the country’s international creditors, and that Greece could be heading for an “accident.”


Bank association eyes SME loan handling

The nonperforming loans of major companies that have entered the Hellenic Bank Association’s NPL Management Forum exceed 6 billion euros. The forum aims to improve coordination among banks and find common solutions. The HBA is now considering a similar initiative to tackle the problematic loans of small and medium-sized enterprises too. The issue is crucial as only by bringing NPLs down to a more manageable level can the credit sector revert to smooth operations.


ECB’s Greek policy under criticism

The European Central Bank needs greater oversight and more accountability, as it has strayed into the realm of political decision-making but without the necessary scrutiny, global watchdog Transparency International said in a report on Tuesday.


Handelsblatt: Berlin believes long-term interest rate freeze on Greek loans could cost up to 140bln€

German mass daily Handelsblatt this week claimed it has a German finance ministry document in its possession warning that any “freeze” in interest rates tacked on to Greek loans until 2040 could cost creditors up to 140 billion euros.


ATHEX: Bourse soars on optimism for a deal

At long last the Greek bourse has shown some healthy growth in its prices, as more and more investors are feeling confident that the completion of the second bailout review is closer than ever. The benchmark rose on Tuesday to its second highest closing point this year, having posted gains of over 4.5 percent in two sessions this week, while the rise of turnover above 50 million euros was another positive sign.







KATHIMERINI: Continuous chaos regarding freelancers’ taxation and contributions

ETHNOS: All debts above 20,000 Euros will be regulated

TA NEA: Bank of Greece Governor is a convenient enemy for the government

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Agreement between Athens and the creditors has been reached

AVGI: They are ashamed of their own reflection

RIZOSPASTIS: 20th Communist Party conference begins tomorrow

KONTRA NEWS: Former PM Simitis and former Defense Minister Papantoniou fear incarceration

DIMOKRATIA: Guns and ammo found inside a mosque

NAFTEMPORIKI: Government experiences nervous breakdown

IMERISIA: The solution for the debt


It’s annoying for Europhiles and Euro-neutrals alike, but Brexit is driving the day, all day. POLITICO will cover every angle with a live blog from 9:30 a.m on our homepage.

Timing today: The letter is signed and on its way to Tim Barrow, the U.K.’s ambassador to the EU, who will hand it to European Council President Donald Tusk around 1:30 p.m. local time. Tusk may or may not pose for a photograph with the ambassador Brussels has hardly seen since he arrived several months ago to replace Ivan Rogers. Don’t expect the contents of the letter, likely to be several pages long, to be leaked. Do expect Tusk to react quickly, between around 1:45 p.m. and 2 p.m. local time. He will provide details of the EU’s next steps timeline, already published by Playbook, and a declaration …

… 4 messages from the EU to the UK: POLITICO’s Florian Eder spoke with sources who have seen the most recent draft of the declaration. It will make four main points, Florian reports. Chief among them: We’re sorry to see you go, but we’re ready to negotiate (in a professional way).

Further political reactions can be expected from leaders from the European People’s Party at their congress in Malta starting this afternoon, including Jean-Claude Juncker at a “citizens’ dialogue” at 5:30 p.m. At 5 p.m. in the European Parliament, President Antonio Tajani, Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and the chairwoman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs Danuta Hübner will outline their views, just after party leaders have discussed the letter.

The loneliest walk: It’s 342 steps from inside UKREP to Tusk’s office in the Egg. You can watch a time-lapse video of the trek here that Playbook made Tuesday.  

Of course, Barrow could always take a diplomatic car, though nothing would symbolize out-of-touch political eliteness more, given the journey is barely 200 meters. The first thing Barrow would see on his walk is a huge “EU AT 60” banner draped from the side of the Commission headquarters with the logo for Juncker’s “Future of Europe” white paper, then he will pass Scotland House and a bus stop. If he wants to avoid cameras he can walk in the back door and navigate the bowels of the Council. Otherwise, it’s onwards to charity muggers, flower sellers, a taxi rank and ongoing construction.

Messages to expect today: British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to rally her people by promising a deal that works for all of them, including three million EU27 nationals. EU national leaders will try to express a balance of friendship, regret, and clinical defense of the interests of the remaining 440 million citizens. Everyone will try to stay positive. And the people of Europe will largely shrug, as Brexit does not fill their screens or affect their daily life (yet) in the way it does Playbook readers’.

How’s it playing on British front pages: The Sun, classy as always with “Dover and Out” | The Scotsman: all about second independence referendum | Guardian “Britain steps into unknown” | Daily Mail “Freedom” | Telegraph “United behind Brexit” says May | Times “The eyes of history are watching” | Mirror “Dear EU, it’s time to go”

Where are they having their Brexit? Tony Blair was last spotted in the cafeteria of the Rayburn building in the United States Congress. David Cameron is on a U.S. speaking tour. Nigel Farage is in London, according to an aide, wondering whether to drink or not to drink. He’s skipped drinking in London since the referendum because of the abuse he receives.

Brexit deluge: Swamped with press releases and infographics and reports and rehashed guides, Playbook isn’t republishing any of them today out of kindness to readers.

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WHAT THE EU27 CAPITALS WANT FROM BREXIT: More than two dozen of POLITICO’s team have contributed to this comprehensive guide on what the remaining EU countries want to achieve and how in the upcoming Brexit negotiations. You’ll find their priorities, their Hard vs Soft preference, and the greatest risks each economy faces.

WITH BREXIT, NO SECTOR IS LEFT UNSCATHED: We’ve searched the corner of every policy cupboard to gauge the risks, and occasional opportunities, associated with Brexit for both sides. Wherever we looked — be it banks, farmers, energy suppliers, airlines or academics — the preference is almost invariably for the shallowest split possible between the U.K. and the EU single market.

A CHANNEL BECOMES ON OCEAN: Frances Robinson on how most of Europe just wants Britain to finally go. While sad for the humor and professionalism Britons will take with them as they leave, there’s no more begging the needy partner to stay. The mood in Brussels is more like “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

12 PEOPLE AND THINGS THAT RUINED THE EU: Reviving a traditional POLITICO roast format, Konstantin Richter takes a tour of the bulls in the European china shop. On the list of the 12 people and things that ruined the EU: Zeus (“Europe’s founding myth doesn’t exactly bode well for its future”), Edith Cresson (“a strong contender for the title of worst European commissioner ever”), and Brussels (“Maybe even Bonn would have been a better choice”).


It’s a good day for Theresa May if … Jeremy Corbyn lets her off the Brexit hook at Prime Minister’s Questions by reading out more emails from constituents instead of grilling her on her biggest challenge; and if Brexit supporters and tabloids steer clear of overtly xenophobic and racist rhetoric.

It’s a good day for the EU if … the 27 remaining countries line up behind Tusk instead of point-scoring at home or with May.


Everyone seems to agree: citizens’ rights the first priority.

May’s new promise to work for everyone in the UK:  “When I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom — young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between. And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home,” May will tell MPs, according to a prepared extract of the speech shared by Downing Street.

Barnier wants deal on citizen rights by end 2017: Two lobbyists who met with Barnier Tuesday, on behalf of groups representing EU27 and U.K. citizens living abroad, have pronounced themselves “extremely happy to hear that we’ll be the first priority … in the negotiations, and that is ahead of budget and borders.” So said Jane Golding from British in Europe, a coalition of 12 citizens groups in the EU.

MEPs threaten to use their veto: MEPs have said they plan to veto any Brexit deal that prevents EU citizens who move to Britain during the next two years from having the same rights to live and work as those already in the country.

Berlin on Brexit: Handelsblatt says it obtained a 34-page internal German finance ministry report that warns of “grave economic and systemic consequences” for the financial system and broader economy if no Brexit deal is reached before Britain leaves the bloc.

Scottish update: Lawmakers in Edinburgh backed a motion asking for a mandate for another independence vote. Gordon Brown meanwhile is pushing for a federal U.K. as a way to save the Union.

Court of Auditors may get involved: It is likely the European Court of Auditors will attempt to examine any Brexit deal and the negotiations that shape it. “The scope and terms of the audit process will be for the ECA to determine,” a spokesperson told Playbook.

Why Brexit talks will be May’s toughest challenge, George Parker and Alex Barker for FT.

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COMMISSION — VESTAGER TO FORMALLY KILL DEUTCHE BÖRSE-LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE DEAL: At 11 a.m. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will announce her veto of the proposed €24 billion tie-up between the two leading stock markets. Their private negotiations already collapsed so the move is a formality, but given this deal was richly symbolic in the era of Brexit as a failed effort to glue British and Continental financial worlds together, Vestager may choose to tackle the issue head-on. Recap of the failed merger.

COMMISSION’S CLIMATE REGRET: Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete told Playbook: “We regret the U.S. is rolling back the main pillar of its climate policy, the Clean Power Plan.” He added: “When it comes to climate and the global clean energy transition, there cannot be vacuums, there can only be drivers … Despite all the current geopolitical uncertainties, the world can count on Europe to maintain global leadership in the fight against climate change. We will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris.”

GREXIT — CRUNCH TIME APPROACHING AGAIN: Diplomats are still empty-handed on Greek labor market reforms. Playbook hears the IMF wants the opposition to offer guarantees it won’t overturn any deal the left-wing government agrees to, but that New Democracy is out of patience with the ruling Syriza party group. Easter gives all sides a natural breathing point, but we are headed for a May showdown and a possible election in June. If negotiations were strung out until the summer we’ll start to get into a tricky situation for candidate for German chancellor Martin Schulz in particular, as Greece once again becomes a German election political hot potato. Nick Malkoutzis mapped out the courses of action as we head to crunch time.

RUSSIA — SPEECH BY RUSSIA’S PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE EU: In Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov’s speech at a working session of the “Ad Hoc Council” in Brussels Tuesday, he said that if we can’t see so-called hybrid warfare actions by Russia, it is because they don’t exist.

NATO-RUSSIA COUNCIL WILL MEET THURSDAY: The meeting will be at the ambassadorial level.

NATO — FIRST CONTRACT IN €3 BILLION TECH OVERHAUL TO BE AWARDED THURSDAY: Worth €150 million, it will cover information technology upgrades for NATO offices around the world, Peter Scaruppe, director of acquisition for NATO’s Communications and Information Agency, told POLITICO (story for POLITICO Pro Tech subscribers). The €3 billion initiative will encompass a host of other upgrades, including an €800 million program to improve communication and control for NATO’s air and missile defense systems.

SYRIA PEACE CONFERENCE SET FOR APRIL 4-5: Participants will include over 70 delegations at ministerial level, including the EU, the United Nations and donors and NGOs from the region and beyond.

VISEGRAD GROUP AND BENELUX COUNTRIES TO HOLD SUMMIT JUNE 19: The meeting will take place in Poland. 

TECH — INTERNET RIGHTS CONFERENCE KICKS OFF IN BRUSSELS: RightsCon Summit, the world’s biggest event on the future of the open internet, comes to Brussels for the first time today. Livestream here.

AUSTRIA WANTS AN EXEMPTION FROM FURTHER ASYLUM OBLIGATIONS: Austria wants to be excluded from the EU’s refugee scheme as it “has already fulfilled its obligation” in taking in tens of thousands of refugees in 2015 and 2016, Chancellor Christian Kern says.


Sadiq Khan highlights: London’s mayor made his first foray into the messy world of Brussels politics Tuesday, in a deliberately timed intervention ahead of today’s Article 50 triggering. The message: Theresa May and his own Labour Party are failing the U.K., and the EU should not punish Britain. Watch the speech here.

The May contradiction: Sylvie Goulard, a leading candidate to be a minister in a Macron French presidency, said May’s October Birmingham speech “was a French socialist one,” in contrast to her January Lancaster House speech when May argued instead for hard Brexit.

The full Mario Monti: The ex-Italian PM, European commissioner and adviser to Michel Barnier had firm views on Italy’s resilience and how to handle negotiations with Barnier.

Jyrki Katainen says Brexit forces others to take up capital markets slack: “Countries that have not traditionally been interested in capital markets are now more interested … I don’t think the U.K.’s [exit] from the EU will have a negative impact on this personally,” the Commission vice president said.

THE NETHERLANDS — PARLIAMENT SPEAKER TO BE REAPPOINTED: Speaker Khadija Arib, facing no challengers, will be reappointed today. She is a member of the Labor Party, an MP since 2007 and speaker since 2016.


Penelope Fillon charged over fake job scandal. François Fillon was evidently so distracted he accidentally pulled the trigger on Article 50, a day before it happened.

Both main parties still imploding: Benoît Hamon continues to poll below radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, worrying even his top staffers. Center-right politicians are also already envisaging the post-Fillon campaign, according to Médiapart.

The man behind Macron: Solid profile of Richard Ferrand, Socialist MP and Macron’s top campaign adviser.

Meanwhile in French Guiana: Massive protests.


BRITS BEGIN THEIR BELGIAN LOVE AFFAIR: Brussels’ Ixelles local administration wants Britons to stay. Around one third of Brits in the district have submitted applications or requested information on how to become Belgian citizens.

TURKISH REFERENDUM COMES TO BELGIUM: 120,000 Belgian Turks are expected to vote in the Turkish referendum, according to La Libre.

CHANGING ROLES: Virginia Mucci will be the new head of communications for the European Centre for Development Policy Management, ECDPM, a think tank working on development policy in Europe and Africa.