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May 27, 2016

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How Greek MPs struggle with the deal

Please note that there will be no newsbriefing on Monday, a UK bank holiday. Our main story is once again on Greece. It's not over yet.

Greek coalition MPs have have to face up to the fact that the deal was not what they had counted on when passing through a barrage of unpopular measures that crossed many of their red lines. What they got in return is another postponement of debt relief talks "if necessary". This was clearly not what they had in mind. The Europeans are kicking the can down the road once again. Greece gave a lot and got little in return, writes George Papaioanno in To Vima

And the saga of the  current review is also not over yet. MPs still have to approve a large amount of "technical corrections" to the laws already passed before seeing any of the next bailout money. Loans guaranteed by the state are to be included in the sales provisions of non-performing loans, the long delayed privatisation of Athens’s old airport at Elliniko has to move forward, and some aspects of a new privatisation fund have to be clarified. 

There are some carrots too. The solidarity fund will go ahead despite reports of objections by creditors, according to Kathimerini. Tsipras said earlier that 40% of Greece’s primary surplus would go into that fund. Labour Minister Giorgos Katrougalos yesterday talked about trying to "cancel out" the effect of the bailout measures with the government’s own policies. This is a precursor to the coalition’s aim to bring its own legislation to parliament in the weeks to come, to shift the discussion away from the bailout package, writes Macropolis. There will also be an effort to make sure that Tsipras’s pledge regarding the EKAS benefit for low-income pensioners would be fulfilled, despite the creditors’ objections. 

With all the corrections to be voted through the danger is that the MPs get hooked on in the process and start questioning the whole package. The last thing Tsipras wants right now is the MPs go into introspection mode. Keeping up the momentum to pass through those corrections while holding out some carrots of new legislation dear to the core of Syriza will be a balancing act over the next coming days.

The German media have celebrated the eurogroup as "game, set, match" victory for Wolfgang Schäuble over the IMF - very reminiscent of the way the British media used to report apparent British victories at EU summits. We noted, however, that Werner Mussler of Frankfurter Allgemeine did not join in the jubilations. He said that the IMF was right to warn about Greek debt sustainability. It is Schäuble who got the eurogroup to ignore this analysis. The minister pretends to be the taxpayer's advocate, but in reality he just postpones the taxpayer's ultimate liability into the future, while increasing it at the same time.

The Greek authorities, meanwhile, say they have completed the evacuation of the Idomeni camp, the biggest informal refugee camp next to the Macedonian border, Kathimerini reports. About 3,783 refugees and immigrants were taken to other official shelters. Just before the evacuation Idomeni had 8,400 occupants according to official figures.  It is unclear where all those who didn't get on the buses to other camps are. Several of them have set up new informal camps in the vicinity.

Our other stories

We also have stories on the escalation of the French labour law dispute; on France and Germany seeking deeper integration post-Brexit; on Merkel's wish to continue sanctions against Russia; on Italy's structural deficit and how to calculate it; on the next Spanish elections; on the downsizing of Spanish banks; and on how long central bank will maintain excess liquidity.

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May Bank Holiday

There will be no newsbriefing on May 30, a bank holiday in the UK. We will be back on Tuesday, May 31.

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