Athens Digest 29.01.2019

• Green light for market test with 5-year bond

• Greece’s return to the markets is a very delicate task, says Commission’s VP Valdis Dombrovskis

• Minimum wage upped to EUR 650 (+10.9 percent)

• Venezuela opposition urges Tsipras to reconsider Maduro support

• Study: Outdated policy hurting Greek birth rate

# Greece has green lighted plans to return to markets with litmus-test 5-year bond auction expected to raise up to EUR 3 billion. In a statement to the Athens Stock Exchange, the Public Debt Management Agency authorised the auction, as market rates continued to improve and yields on the 10-year government bond sipped to touch 4 percent.

# In an interview with Greece’s state-run Athens News Agency, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis expressed support for the Greek government’s gradual approach to make a full return to markets, describing the effort as a very delicate task.”Greece’s return to the markets is a very delicate task. It has been out of the markets basically for 9 years, it has by far the largest debt to GDP ratio, more than 180 pct, so there is not much room for manoeuvre and there is not much room for mistakes. That’s why I emphasise the need for Greece to stay on the agreed course as regards both fiscal targets and the structural reform agenda,” he said

# During his cabinet meeting PM Tsipras has announced a minimum wage rise, the first since sweeping wage cuts imposed in 2012. The Prime Minister said, starting next month, the minimum wage will rise from EUR 586 to 650 per month (+10.9 percent), and a lower rate for under-25s will be abolished.

# The leader of Venezuela’s opposition Juan Guaido has urged the Tsipras government to reconsider its support for the government of Nicolas Maduro, arguing that his regime has brought the country’s population to desperation. He told Greece’s Skai television: “I do not want to get involved in the internal affairs or national issues of the (Greek) government, but I urge (PM Tsipras) or any member of his party to visit Venezuela and, together, we can tour the schools, pharmacies and hospitals. If he stays for one week, living on a Venezuelan salary, he will no longer back the Maduro government.” Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party last week expressed its full support forthe Maduro government, in contrast with a tough line against him by other European governments. Maduro, describing efforts to replace him as undemocratic.

Greece’s worsening demographic profile is closely linked to its deteriorating fertility rates and failure to modernize family policy, according to a new study. The survey carried out by the Research and Policy Institute, diaNEOsis, found that Greece has fallen further behind other European countries _ with the women’s average age at having their first child at 30.3 years in 2016, from 28.8 in 2008 and compared with 29 years old in the EU (2016). Greece also has one of the highest number of first children born to mothers over age 40, at 5.3 percent of the total.

On our Radar: Favour Returned? 
European officials have suggested that part of PM Tsipras’ motivation to push the Macedonia deal through parliament have been out of obligation to the country’s creditors over its massive bailouts _ at least according to Politico’s Brussels Playbook. EC President Juncker, backing in 2015, it said, had reminded Tsipras that his government would one day be asked to return the favour. Romania’s EU presidency, meanwhile, says it will back efforts to launch accession talks with FYROM, while Commission’s spokesperson did not ruled out a June start date.