19 August 2015

Bundestag likely to follow other parliaments in approving Greek bailout

The Bundestag is in the midst of debating the third Greek bailout. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble presented the bill to MPs saying the bailout is “a good deal that is in the interest of Greece and in the interest of Europe.” He added that it is “essential” that the IMF is involved and suggested he believed it would be. He also warned that there are “no guarantees that everything will work.” Approval is expected, although the level of rebellion from CDU/CSU MPs will be important. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that, during a trial vote held within the CDU/CSU group, 56 MPs voted against the bailout and 4 abstained.

The Spanish Parliament yesterday backed the bailout by 297 votes to 20 with five abstentions, as did the Estonian Parliament by 50 votes to 37 with six abstentions. The Austrian Parliament’s ESM subcommittee also approved the bailout yesterday. The Dutch parliament will hold a non-binding vote on the bailout tomorrow. However, PVV leader Geert Wilders may call for a no-confidence vote on the government – although this is unlikely to be won. Dutch MP Mark Harbers, from the ruling VVD, has said that his party has decided to back the package as voting it down would just leave the Netherlands “isolated” with the money ending up in Greece one way or another anyway. However, he admitted that this is a clear U-turn on an election promise of no more loans to Greece.

Meanwhile, Kathimerini reports that the Greek government is considering implementing reduced summer sessions of the Greek parliament. This would allow the government to choose which of its MPs should attend the sessions, thereby limiting the influence of rebels in the party and making it easier to pass controversial reforms attached to the bailout.

The ECB yesterday agreed to reduce the level of Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) available to Greek banks by €0.7bn at the request of the Bank of Greece. Separately, the Greek government has finalised the sale of 14 regional airports to German operator Fraport for a total €1.23bn.

Source: Kathimerini The Financial Times Bloomberg Reuters Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung El País El Mundo Reuters España La Tribune

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UK and France to sign new agreement on security in Calais

The British and French governments will tomorrow sign a deal to improve security in Calais and increase joint action to tackle human trafficking. There is also likely to be more humanitarian aid for the 5,000 people sleeping rough in the Calais camps. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will also travel on to Berlin to meet his German counterpart, Thomas de Maizière, for talks on EU migration policies.

Meanwhile, new figures released by the EU’s border agency Frontex show that a record 107,000 non-EU migrants reached EU borders in July.

Source: The Daily Telegraph The Sun The Daily Mail

Bild: Third Greek bailout is damaging the European concept

In an extended opinion piece, Bild’s chief editor Kai Diekmann argues, “Bild is always a passionate supporter of a united Europe [and] an advocate of a single European currency, the euro…Therefore, Bild is more convinced than ever that today’s decision by the Bundestag for yet another extension of the so-called rescue of Greece with further billions is terribly wrong. This is because this policy is not bringing salvation, not for Greece, not for the euro and above all not for Europe. Quite the opposite: it is damaging the European concept because it is dividing Europe rather than uniting it…Whoever invokes Helmut Kohl when backing this policy in today’s Bundestag vote has failed to understand Europe’s honorary citizen.”

Source: Bild: Diekmann Die Welt: Siems

New Spanish poll shows newcomer parties losing vote share

A new TNS Demoscopia poll has Spain’s ruling centre-right Partido Popular in the lead on 27%, the Socialist Party on 22.9%, the anti-establishment Podemos on 16.5% and the centrist Ciudadanos on 12.9%. Podemos and Ciudadanos have lost 2.7 and 2.6 percentage points respectively since mid-June. Partido Popular has gained 3.2 percentage points over the same period.

Source: TNS Demoscopia

Ukrainian President to head to Brussels to discuss renewed fighting in Eastern Ukraine

Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine are reported to have launched a renewed offensive over the summer, in clear violation of the Minsk agreements – according to troops on the ground. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will meet EU leaders in Brussels before the end of the month to discuss the situation.

Poroshenko also spoke with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday. The two discussed, among other things, the possibility of granting visa-free travel to Ukrainian visitors to the EU and the implementation of the EU-Ukraine free trade deal on 1 January 2016, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Separately, a Russian court has today sentenced Eston Kohver, a member of the Estonian Internal Security Service, to 15 years in prison. Russian authorities claim that Kohver was arrested on Russian territory while Estonia claims the arrest illegally took place on its side of the border.

Source: The Wall Street Journal The Baltic Times

EU milk price decrease could be linked to Russian sanctions, Commission says

The European Commission said yesterday that a drop in milk prices across Europe could be linked to “the absence of the Russian market”, referring to Russia’s counter-sanctions against the EU. An extraordinary meeting of EU agriculture ministers will take place on 7 September to discuss the situation.

Source: EUObserver