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July 03, 2017

Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?

Alexis Tsipras is to defend his record and the eurogroup deal in parliament today, in an debate requested by New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The eurogroup deal and the garbage collectors' strike provide plenty of material for a hefty exchange: the eurogroup deal is still unpopular, with no guarantee of a debt relief. And Tsipras’ new narrative that Greece could exit the programme without a precautionary credit line sounds like one of his many ambitious targets that he failed to deliver.

Market access is the new yardstick to measure the success of the Syriza government. Macropolis explains the logic: if they can get lower rates than New Democracy in 2014 and succeed in exiting the programme without a credit line like the one on offer to Antonis Samaras, then Syriza could argue that they did get a better deal and that it was worth the time and effort. The Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) is reportedly already working on tapping the market twice in the coming weeks: to swap the three-year bond issued in July 2014, and to roll over a five-year bond issued in April 2014. 

The domestic crisis last week was a strike of garbage collectors, which left many neighbourhoods with piles of rotting trash in temperatures of 40C. It has been resolved for now but only after some heavy interventions from the government. Unions suspended the strike on Thursday after Tsipras intervened and the government topped up with concessions, including plans to hire about 2,500 permanent staff next year. Garbage collectors were protesting against eventual job losses after a court order banned extensions to short-term contracts, which could leave up to 10,000 jobs on the line.

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July 03, 2017

The softening Brexit

We always thought that Brexit would ultimately soften once people had to make concrete decisions. That would have been true even if Theresa May had won the election with a huge majority, as the UK would simply not have been prepared for a cliff-edge Brexit in 2019. We are now looking at the scenario of a transitional phase similar in scope to the current position (i.e., in the single market, with all obligations but no rights), during which the EU and the UK would negotiate a wide-ranging FTA with some service components. The FT writes this morning that a delegation from the City of London will go to Brussels this week with a secret (not so secret any longer) blueprint for a post-Brexit trade deal on financial services. The FT writes that this initiative is independent of the government, but had unofficial support by senior UK officials. The plan is based on the principle of mutual access, which would allow financial groups from the UK and the other EU member states to operate in each other’s markets without barriers. It would also involve shared regulatory supervision and joint dispute resolution. There would be a break clause in the agreement, allowing either side to terminate it under certain circumstances. The FT has not seen the full proposal, saying that details are closely guarded, but this appears to be a fully worked-out proposal. The law firm Hogan Lovells acted as the adviser to the group. 

Separately, the Guardian reports that UK officials speak of a dramatic change of mood inside the Brexit department since the general election, as the government is now prioritising economics over politics. UK civil servants are pressing ministers to accept aspects of the EEA, or to settle for a Canada-style agreement. There is now a greater recognition of a trade-off between the degree of access to EU markets and taking back control. The article says that there is pressure specifically for a rethink of the opposition to a customs union deal. The issue is far from settled within the cabinet, but there is agreement that the government will have to agree a common line by October or November, at which point the Article 50 negotiations will reach a critical phase. If the UK wanted to negotiate an agreement involving customs union access, it would need to say so fairly early, as this impacts the exit talks which are currently premised on full exit from both the customs union and the single market.

Another area where Brexit is getting softer is the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Wolfgang Munchau makes the point that May’s offer to EU citizens is far from sufficient, but would soothe the nerves of the majority for now. With immigration the devil is in the details, which have yet to be negotiated. But this issue no longer looks to be a potential dealbreaker.

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July 03, 2017

Macron's state of the nation address

Emmanuel Macron will address a joint session of the two chambers of the French parliament in Versailles today. The idea is not new, and is certainly legal, but it is still different from the format that François Hollande used in Versailles after the 2015 terror attacks. Macron aims to present a roadmap of his five year presidency, similar to a state of the union address by a US president. There was a lot of controversy on whether this takes the wind off the sails of his prime minister Édouard Philippe, who is to present the government’s programme tomorrow. Far from it, say the teams around both Macron and Philippe. The government is there to implement Macron’s roadmap, and how this will be done is to be presented tomorrow. 

Choosing to go to Versailles ensures a choreographed performance in an opulent place. Despite all the revolt against the ancien régime, the French still like the display of presidential power. The bill for this event is likely to make the Germans shake their head in disbelief.

The Communists and La France Insoumise, as well as some from the centrist UDI, are boycotting the event. In the media the debate over the last couple of days was about whether or not it is a good move for Macron to do this. What will be even more important, but hardly discussed, is whether he can deliver on his promises in the next five years.

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  • Black Brexit smoke
  • Bettel can relax and stay in office
  • Solving the crime vs solving the problem
  • April 16, 2018
  • Italy's and Germany's pained response to the Syria attacks
  • On the end of the eurozone's economic honeymoon
  • Why Bulgaria should stay out of the euro
  • Where shall we meet after Brexit?
  • October 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • October 20, 2016
  • No games please, we are Europeans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 14, 2019
  • Are France and Germany finally converging on security policy? We think they might.
  • July 04, 2019
  • What will the European Parliament do?
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sound and fury, but Brexit reality unchanged
  • Supertanker Deutschland moves to join internet age
  • October 12, 2018
  • A deal so close, and yet so far
  • AfD leaves Germans speachless and helpless
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • January 24, 2018
  • AfD europhobe to chair of Bundestag's budget committee
  • Watch out for the Labour Party debate on the single market
  • On the productivity puzzle
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • May 12, 2017
  • What to do with Germany’s tax windfall
  • How Macron counts on building a majority
  • Options for the eurozone
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 02, 2019
  • Will pension reform protests spiral out of control?
  • Malta's PM resigns over murder case
  • October 22, 2019
  • High stake poker with Turkey
  • Without EU accession prospect, what is at stake for Macedonia?
  • September 13, 2019
  • Protecting our German way of life: on the decline of the car industry
  • August 05, 2019
  • No deal first, elections later
  • Free movement of labour? Not for politicians
  • Europe already lost the digital battle
  • June 27, 2019
  • Why it is an illusion to think that the Commons could stop a no-deal Brexit
  • Vestager for president
  • May 22, 2019
  • Better start those no-deal preparations right now
  • Europe's real transfer union is from east to west
  • April 15, 2019
  • Finland's far right changes the game
  • Brexit party drawing almost even with the Tories
  • March 11, 2019
  • Ask what Europe can do for Germany - AKK's EU manifesto
  • February 05, 2019
  • Pressure on Varadkar rises - the EP turns up the heat
  • When grounds shift - literally
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • November 26, 2018
  • Two German plus two Dutch makes four spitzenkandidaten
  • Yellow vest protests - radicalisation and new political alliances
  • October 24, 2018
  • Can the eurozone be governed without a parliament?
  • EU to grant UK-wide backstop
  • Merkel flip-flops on diesel legislation
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • July 30, 2018
  • Brexit midsummer madness
  • July 03, 2018
  • Some realism about tariffs
  • How the Brexit carousel has come full circle
  • June 08, 2018
  • German car lobby in full panic mode - wants EU to cut car tariffs unilaterally
  • Turkey suspends migrant deal with Greece
  • Is Macron losing the left?
  • May 14, 2018
  • Catalonia: plus ça change...
  • Conveney says no to Brexit with border infrastructure
  • Why the noble Lords don't really matter
  • April 18, 2018
  • What Macron did not say in Strasbourg
  • Should we worry about Selmayrgate?
  • March 27, 2018
  • The IMF's proposals for eurozone reform
  • No concessions from Erdogan
  • Will the UK be shut out of Galileo on Brexit?
  • March 05, 2018
  • One rock, two vetos, three governments
  • Rutte weighs in
  • February 12, 2018
  • What the euro debate is really about
  • How Brexit can still falter
  • January 23, 2018
  • Berlusconi is a pro-European once again
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 15, 2017
  • Amendment 9 conundrum
  • The negligible GDP impact of the single market
  • November 29, 2017
  • Something has to give
  • Fitzgerald's resignation buys Irish government time
  • On the rise of the centre-right in Italian politics
  • What does the EU want from its eastern partnership?
  • November 14, 2017
  • The apolitical movement inside LREM
  • On the unity of the PD and the visions of the Italian left
  • A clarification on glyphosate
  • On freedom of movement
  • October 30, 2017
  • Italy's electoral reform seems to backfire already
  • Bregretometer hits another peak
  • October 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • October 04, 2017
  • On why Theresa May is likely to survive
  • On how to resolve the Brexit talks
  • Social housing - not a good start for the French government
  • September 22, 2017
  • The last German polls
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • August 30, 2017
  • What is the German election about?
  • Who is Jens Spahn?
  • What a transition is, and what it is not
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 31, 2017
  • Russia sanctions bill becomes US law
  • Spain's Guardia Civil in the eye of the Catalan storm
  • A grand bargain between France and Germany
  • July 24, 2017
  • Macron's popularity falls amid more budget cuts
  • Orbán to support Polish government against EU
  • No exit from Brexit
  • July 17, 2017
  • What Tony Blair's Brexit confusion tells us
  • Schulz advocates compulsory investments
  • Italy’s government has effectively lost its majority
  • July 13, 2017
  • Renzi at war with everybody
  • Referendum game gets real for Catalan government
  • Going about the Irish border issue
  • Brexit facts - who needs them?
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • July 05, 2017
  • Europe’s next migration crisis
  • Philippe: French need to kick spending addiction
  • July 04, 2017
  • On the CDU’s programme
  • Macron defines his presidential style
  • Why do we criticise modern macro?