Athens Digest 11.09.2018

• Enhanced surveillance begins with sights on pensions, tax relief

• Debt measures could be axed if reforms forgotten, warns Regling

• PM Tsipras to highlight far-right threat in speech to European Parliament

• Moria faces shut-down risk as health hazard

# Yannis Dragasakis, the deputy PM, chaired a meeting with bailout-related ministers to prepare a defence of the government’s promised tax relief measures and roll-back of planned pension cuts, as officials from European creditor institutions returned to Athens to begin post-program surveillance. The mission chiefs will meet with government officials tomorrow to discuss measures to be included next month in the draft 2019 budget. In Thessaloniki at the weekend, PM Tsipras insisted the 2019 pension cuts would not be necessary and announced a broad tax relief plan.

# In what was widely seen as a warning to Athens, ESM managing director Klaus Regling said debt relief measures could be shut off if Greece fails to follow through on its bailout commitments. He told Austria’s Die Presse newspaper: “We are a very patient creditor. But we can stop debt relief measures that have been decided for Greece if the adjustment programs are not continued as agreed.” Regling added: “The debt level appears to be frighteningly elevated. But Greece can live with that as the loan maturities are very long and the interest rates on the loans are much lower than in most other countries.”

# Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will address a plenary session of the European Parliament about the future of the EU this morning and is expected to call on pro-EU political parties across the bloc to form stronger alliances against the emerging far-right. While visiting the Thessaloniki International Fair, he urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel not to abandon her “principled position” on immigration and said democratic parties in the EU had to create a stronger political barrier against the “extreme right.”

# Regional authorities say the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos could be shut down as a health hazard, unless immediate improvements are made to conditions at the site. The North Aegean regional authority said inspections of the camp by its officials had found it to be “dangerous and unsuitable for public health,” citing poor rubbish disposal and sewerage. It warned it would order the site to be shut down in 30 days unless conditions improve. The government has been unable to fulfill its promise of significantly reducing the camp’s population over the summer. It remains above 8,000 while its capacity is 3.500.

On our Radar: Young Greeks feel excluded and angry
A poll of young Greeks living at home and abroad has found overwhelming levels of distrust towards the government, political parties, most public institutions, and the news media. The Kapa Research survey of some 3,000 Greeks under age 40 found that 72 percent of those polled in Greece blamed domestic corruption for the Greek financial crisis and only 8 percent believed the global financial crisis was responsible (79 percent and 10 percent for those polled abroad). An identical 48 percent in both groups believed that conditions in Greece are still likely to get worse, while just 38 and 37 of respondents at home and abroad believe the situation will improve.