Athens Digest 01.10.2019

• Draghi to receive honour in Athens

• Migration: Government announces plan to ease pressure on islands

• EU backs Greek emergency measures

• Greek youth unemployment still at 33 percent

• Retail sales take July hit

# Mario Draghi, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank will receive an award in Athens this evening for his role in helping the euro area weather the crisis _ with observers listening carefully for any favourable reference to the quantitative easing programme. Draghi will receive the award from the Academy of Athens, on the invitation of one of its best-known members, Lucas Papademos, the former ECB vice president and Greek prime minister. Draghi will meet Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras and Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, and before leaving tomorrow will also hold talks with Prime Minister Mitsotakis. Last week, Draghi said Greece could be included in the ECB’s quantitative easing programme if it continued progress on reforms. Greek government bonds, however, remain four notches below investment grade. Former IMF managing director Christine Lagarde takes over from Draghi on November 1.

# The government has launched a policy to accelerate the removal of migrants and refugees to the mainland from overcrowded island camps in the wake of a deadly fire and rioting on Lesvos. A woman burned to death and 17 were injured in the blaze at the Moria camp _ moving the migrant crisis to the top of the agenda at a scheduled Cabinet meeting in Athens. Stelios Petsas, the government spokesman, announced that deportations to Turkey would resume and that detention facilities would be created for those denied the right to apply for asylum. Further, Greece’s 13 regional government departments would evenly share the burden of camps nationwide, and senior military and political contacts between Greece and Turkey would also resume. Initial reports of two deaths and that the fires may have been set by protesters were eventually denied by the police.

# The European Commission has welcomed Greece’s response to the spike in migrant arrivals and says it is willing to provide additional help. “We welcome the fact that a number of emergency measures have already been announced by the Greek authorities to address issues of reception capacity in view of the increased arrivals,” spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said. “These measures include additional transfers to the mainland supported by the UNHCR and financed by the EU.” Andreeva announced that Commissioner Avramopoulos would be traveling with the interior ministers of Germany and France Horst Seehofer and Christophe Castaner to Greece and Turkey on Thursday and Friday.

# Retail sales by volume in July dropped 3 percent on the year, the statistical authority said, hit by a dip in pharmaceutical products and cosmetics, clothing and footwear, and fuel. The agency said supermarket sales improved slightly, as did the books, stationery, and other goods category, and furniture, electrical equipment, and household equipment.

On our Radar: Jobless rate dropping
Greece continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the EU and euro area as the jobless numbers across the bloc are continuing to improve. Eurostat data for August showed that the highest unemployment rates remain in Greece at 17.0 percent (June figure) and Spain at 13.8 percent. The lowest were in recorded in the Czech Republic at 2.0 percent and Germany at 3.1 percent, while the respective rates for the EU and euro area were 6.2 percent and 7.4 percent. At 33 percent, Greece had the highest rate of youth unemployment, followed by Spain (32.2 percent) and Italy (27.1 percent).