Athens Digest 15.05.2019

• Euroarea member states may raise concerns over relief measures, says senior EU official

• Politico: European elections poll gives conservative ND 9.5-percent lead

• Eurostat: More than half of Greeks aged 25 to 34 still living with their parents in 2017

• J&P AVAX wins tender to construct gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria

# Ahead of tomorrow’s Eurogroup, a senior EU official told that although Greece and the recent relief measures it announced will not be on the agenda, it cannot be excluded “that some countries will raise the issue.” “They worry about what has been announced, they worry about whether Greece sticks to its commitments,” he said. With regard to Greece’s intention to proceed with an early repayment of IMF loans, he said that national parliaments could link up this issue with the announcements by the prime minister. “This could happen. I wouldn’t be surprised.” As for Greek plan for lower primary surplus targets, he described it as confusing: “They are mixing up the deficit with the flow with the liquidity buffer etc. I wait for the report by the institutions. I think they will be confused too, and they will say a target is a target.”

# Main opposition New Democracy will win European Parliament elections by a margin of 9.5-percent over ruling Syriza party, according to projections made in a poll published yesterday by Politico. The projections, based on an aggregation of national polls and an algorithm that forecasts each party’s election result, gave New Democracy nine seats and 35.22-percent of the vote (9 seats), ahead of SYRIZA with seven seats and 25.74-percent (7 seats). The center-left Movement for Change was projected to garner 7.4-percent (2 seats), slightly more than extreme right Golden Dawn ( 7.28-percent, 2 seats) and Communist KKE (6.8-percent, 1 seat).

# More than half (56.3-percent) of Greeks aged between 25-34 were still living with their parents in 2017, according to Eurostat. Greece was third in this particular category behind Slovakia (57-percent) and Croatia (59.7-percent) while Denmark (3.2-percent), Finland (4.7-percent) and Sweden (6-percent) were at the opposite end of the scale. Overall, more than one third (35.3-percent) of males aged 25 to 34 in the EU were still living with their parents in 2017, compared with only one fifth (21.7-percent) of females in the same age group.

# Greece’s J&P AVAX has been awarded the tender to construct a gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria costing EUR 133.85 million, according to the ICGB. Aiming to end its heavy dependence on Russian gas, Sofia wants the 182-kilometre interconnector to start transporting Azeri gas to Bulgaria by 2020 and plans to begin construction this month. ICGB is owned by Bulgarian BEH (50 percent), Greek DEPA and Italian Edison.

On Our Radar: Is the election of top justices a harbinger of early national elections?
The procedure initiated by the Justice Ministry to elect a new leadership to Greece’s Supreme Court, which has started at a slighter earlier date than usual, has reportedly prompted speculation of early national elections in June. Given that the term of office of the President of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor expires on June 30, proceedings were usually launched in mid-June. For his part, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has maintained that national elections will take place at the end of his government’s term in October. Meanwhile, in an interview with Alpha TV, Tsipras said European Parliament elections will be “an opinion poll” while just a  few days after he described them as “a vote of confidence” in his government.