Daily Update


Tuesday, August 01 2023

Athens, Nicosia restate common front on Cyprus

At a time of apparent mobility on the Cyprus issue despite Ankara’s hard line, Athens and Nicosia reaffirmed their common stance during the meeting on Monday between visiting Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.



Attica Regional Governor announces he will not stand in upcoming elections

The Regional Governor of Attica Giorgios Patoulis announced on Monday that he would not be standing in the upcoming local elections after New Democracy, who supported him in the previous election, endorsed current Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias. A video of Patoulis dancing at an event during the recent wildfires was understood to have caused significant dissatisfaction within the ruling party.



62 forest fires broke out in 24 hours

A total of 62 forest fires broke out in a 24-hour period that lasted until Monday evening, with most being immediately dealt with at their initial stage, according to a statement by the Fire Service.



Greek inflation at 3.4% in July; eurozone inflation at 5.3%

Greece’s inflation rose slightly to 3.4% in July, compared with 2.8% in June, according to Eurostat data. Eurozone inflation stood at 5.3% in July 2023, down from 5.5% in June.



R&I raises Greek economy’s rating to investment grade BBB- stable

The Japanese rating agency Rating and Investment Information (R&I) on Monday announced that it has raised Greece’s Foreign and Domestic Currency Issuer Ratings to investment grade BBB-, with a stable outlook.



ATHEX: July records rise of 4.45% for bourse

Local stocks ended a nother profitable month at the Greek bourse, as July saw gains of 4.45% to the benchmark at Athinon Avenue following a session of slight growth for the majority of stocks on Monday. As banks’ second-quarter results started flowing in, non-bank blue chips stole the show, with Mytilineos reaching a new all-time high.








KATHIMERINI: IPatoulis’ withdrawal and surprises on the way to the municipal and regional ballots

TA NEA: Real estate assets: objective values under reform

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The wiretappings scandal is being covered up

AVGI: Recycling of candidates for New Democracy

RIZOSPASTIS: Tiny salaries for millions of wage workers while prices spike

KONTRA NEWS: Ministers and party executives under surveillance

DIMOKRATIA: The prosecutor must investigate New Democracy and PASOK regarding their debts

NAFTEMPORIKI: Greece ‘steps on’ the investment grade



DESIGNATED SURVIVOR: It’s officially August, which means the last Eurocrats are heading out of town to their favorite summer retreats, and all of Brussels is “out of office.”

All of Brussels? Well, almost. A few commissioners have the questionable honor of being on the summer roster, staying behind as the person on duty should an emergency arise.

In the movie: The official job description for the commissioners on duty sounds like something out of a political thriller. The designated commissioner will be in charge if there’s an unexpected crisis and will maintain the “continuity of the Commission’s core tasks,” a spokesperson told my colleague Gregorio Sorgi, adding that the tasks are “coordination, decision-making process and communication.”

In real life: But not much decision-making goes on in Brussels in August. In practice, “they’ll be sitting in the Berlaymont watching the rain from their windows,” one official told your favorite newsletter, tongue firmly in cheek.

Who drew the short straw: Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius (who at 32 is the youngest member of Ursula von der Leyen’s College) holds the keys to the Berlaymont this week, following on from agri chief Janusz Wojciechowski, who was on duty last week. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides will have to tear herself away from Cyprus’ beaches from August 5-11; home affairs boss Ylva Johansson holds the fort from August 12-18; Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli will wrap up the rota August 19-27.

Back to school: Everyone else is expected back in town for the next College of Commissioners meeting scheduled for September 6.

Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again: Despite Brussels’ best efforts to preserve the sanctity of summer holidays, sometimes the outside world comes knocking, as the commissioners know all too well. Wojciechowski, Dalli and Johansson were all on duty during the summer of 2021, when the Belarus migrant crisis and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan set alarm bells ringing in EU capitals.


TODAY — CHIP CHANGE: The China vs. West semiconductor tit-for-tat is heating up today, with Beijing’s restrictions on two metals crucial for chip-making — gallium and germanium — due to kick in. Companies that wish to export these critical metals outside of China will now need a special license from the government.

Reminder: China produces 60 percent of the world’s germanium and 80 percent of gallium.

Tit for tat: Beijing’s move is a response to export restrictions targeting microchip technologies that could be used to accelerate China’s military build-up, which have been imposed or announced by the U.S., Japan and the Netherlands — who jointly control the supply of the most advanced printing machines for microchips. A month from now, on September 1, Dutch restrictions on chip printers (a field in which Dutch company ASML leads) go into effect.

It’s all about Taiwan: The self-governing island manufactures around 90 percent of the world’s supply of advanced semiconductors. The (mostly unspoken) fear of Western politicians is that if China invades Taiwan or imposes a blockade, it would disrupt everything from the automobile industry to smartphones. To that end, over the past two years, the U.S. and EU have doled out billions in subsidies for chip companies to re-shore their supply chains away from Asia and back to the West.

Direct impact? Chip companies stayed mum about, or even downplayed, the impact of the restrictions in both directions when they recently reported earnings. But analysts have pointed out that it could impact downstream end-use markets, like electric cars — which brings to mind the pandemic-era chips shortages, leading to long waiting times for car deliveries.

A new reality: We’ve entered an era when regional blocs no longer hesitate to weaponize their supply chains. Given how central microchips are to our economies, the effects could be huge, my colleague Pieter Haeck reports for POLITICO Competition and Industrial Policy, Mobility, Technology and Trade Pros.


EU SEEKS TO COUNTER CHINESE INFLUENCE IN INDO-PACIFIC: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen rebuked China’s militant stance in the Indo-Pacific and its approach to Russia’s war on Ukraine during a speech in Manila on Monday.

Context: Her remarks come as Europe attempts to reframe its relationship with China amid the war and increased pressure from the U.S. to more deeply align with Washington economically and militarily and become less dependent on Beijing.

Global repercussions: Von der Leyen said China “has yet to assume fully its responsibility under the U.N. Charter to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” as POLITICO’s Suzanne Lynch writes. She also warned that China’s military posturing in the South and East China Seas could have “global repercussions.”

What they discussed: In a meeting with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the two sides pledged to increase cooperation on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. Von der Leyen also announced that Brussels and Manila were preparing to relaunch talks on a free trade agreement, as Playbook reported Monday.

Western leaders on tour: Von der Leyen’s visit to the Philippines is the latest outreach in the region by Western leaders, my colleague Camille Gijs writes in to report. French President Emmanuel Macron just completed a tour of the Indo-Pacific, where he pledged to defend the independence and sovereignty of all states in the region. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has also stepped up defense cooperation with Manila.


RUSSIANS TASTE WAR: A Moscow skyscraper which was struck by a drone attack on Sunday was targeted again overnight, according to the Russian capital’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Several drones were shot down, he said, but “one flew into the same tower at the Moskva City complex” that was targeted on Sunday, the BBC reports. Ukraine doesn’t usually claim responsibility for drone attacks on Russian soil.

AS MOSCOW STRIKES ZELENSKYY’S HOMETOWN AGAIN: Russian missile strikes killed six, including a 10-year-old girl, in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s home city of Kryvyi Rih on Monday. Russia also hit Kharkiv overnight.

Now read this — What happens if Zelenskyy is killed: Ukrainian officials tend to brush off requests to discuss what would happen were Russia to succeed in assassinating their president. While it’s a question Zelenskyy understandably isn’t eager to contemplate, there is a plan in place, according to interviews with Ukrainian officials and lawmakers as well as analysts, writes Jamie Dettmer.

MOTHERLAND MAKEOVER: Ukrainians are always looking for ways to give the middle finger to Russia. But many in Kyiv are asking if radically altering the iconic Motherland monument to remove a hammer and sickle is the best way of using the country’s wartime resources, Veronika Melkozerova reports.

GERMAN DEFENSE POLICY: Berlin is learning to be a team player when it comes to defense, the German Council on Foreign Relations’ Benjamin Tallis writes in POLITICO. Berlin’s promised sea change in its defense policy has the potential to reboot wider European defense, he argues.

SAUDI PEACE TALKS: Russia said Monday it will closely follow talks on Ukraine set to take place in Saudi Arabia soon. More from Claudia Chiappa here.