Athens Digest 13.09.2018

• Juncker: No room for misunderstanding on pensions

• Greece lays out case for U-turn on 2019 cuts

• NPEs reduction targets will be met, says Hellenic Bank Association

• Study suggests evacuation was possible in Mati fire

# European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted there was no room for misinterpretation of a commitment by Greece to impose pension cuts next year. “The measures agreed have to be implemented,” Juncker said at a briefing with correspondents from several news media outlets, including the Athens daily Kathimerini.

# Greek officials say they have presented creditors with the government’s case for canceling 2019 pension cuts, arguing that the losses involved would easily be covered by primary surplus overrun. The issue was raised at meetings in Athens with post-program surveillance mission chiefs. A Greek official said that the inspectors didn’t insist that the pension reforms were considered to be structural, and appeared confident Athens’ arguments could ultimately prove to be convincing.

# In their meeting with the Hellenic Bank Association, the institutions expressed their concern about the reduced profitability of the banks and reduction of the NPEs. Reportedly, the bankers have rejected institutions’ concerns about missing the 2018 targets and raised the issue of changing the law for the banks’ administrations.

# Experts examining conditions that led to 99 deaths at Mati (eastern Athens area) ravaged by wildfires in July, say a better organised evacuation could have been mounted in the time available. In a report presented last night, the experts said authorities had 90 minutes available to supervise an evacuation. The findings were presented by Costas Synolakis, a professor of natural hazards management and coastal engineering at the Technical University of Crete. The Greek researchers used simulation models created at the University of Oregon and Japan’s Waseda University. The study had been requested by conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis who attended yesterday’s presentation.



On our Radar: Vestager visit
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is in Athens today for meetings with PM Tsipras and senior officials. The Danish politician will also hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, the deputy development minister Stergios Pitsiorlas and the opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis. At noon, Vestager will address a joint session of parliamentary committees for European affairs, economic affairs and production and trade.