Athens Digest 04.10.2019

• Schinas defends ‘European Way of Life’ with impassioned speech at EP hearing

EU official: Greek report positive but clock ticking on 2020 budget

T-Bill yield falls below 0.1 percent, bonds rates continue to tumble

Casino deadline at Hellenikon as more regulation hurdles cleared

Piraeus Bank joins major climate initiative

# Greece’s Margaritis Schinas, Commission’s Vice-Presiden designate, has defended the ‘European Way of Life’ with an emotional presentation at his hearing at the European Parliament. He left space for further discussion on the title of his portfolio with president elected Ursula von der Leyen at a later stage. “At its core, being European means protecting the most vulnerable in our societies. It means health care and welfare systems that all can access. It means having the same opportunities. It means promoting culture and sport as core elements of our existence and equipping people with the knowledge, education, and skills they need to live and work in dignity. It means feeling safe on our homes in our streets,” Schinas said. He added that the new Commission would work to boost the inclusion of migrants into society but also find a more effective mechanism to return those denied residence. The S&D Group already announced it accepts Schinas as Commission’s Vice-Presdent but in his evaluation letter the party insists that his title must change.

# An EU official in Brussels has told that a preliminary on Greece as part of its post-programme surveillance is positive but a fiscal gap in the 2020 budget remains to be resolved. The official said that Commission was keen to see the issue settled before the October 15 deadline for euro area members to submit draft budget plans to Brussels. Greece was expected to be on the eurogroup agenda in December, the official said, adding that progress was being made on Greece’s request to repay IMF loans early, with the European Stability Mechanism expected to grant a waiver for simultaneous repayment.

# The yield has dropped below 0.1 percent in Greece’s latest T-Bill auction, as borrowing rates continue to plummet. The Public Debt Management Agency said latest auction for 6-month Treasury bills raised EUR 625 million on a yield of 0.097 percent and a coverage ratio of 2.44. An additional EUR 187.5 million was later accepted in non-competitive bids. It showed an improvement from the previous 26-week T-Bill auction in late August when the respective yield and coverage ratio were 0.15 percent and 1.76. Greece’s 10-year-bond meanwhile continued to show a marked improvement, with the yield dropp9ing to 1.348 percent, from 4.5 percent a year ago and 5.6 percent in early October 2017.

# The government has reportedly signed the final batch of joint ministerial decisions required for the Athens’ coastal development project at Hellenikon _ covering zoning and other outstanding issues that have held up the multi-billion euro development. Today marks the binding-offers submission deadline for the Integrated Resort Casino concession at Hellenikon. The main contenders are Hard Rock International and a partnership of Greek contractor GEK Terna U.S. casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.

On our Radar: Banking on Green Future
Piraeus Bank has signed up to the “Collective Commitment to Climate Action,” an programme that is part of the Principles for Responsible Banking initiative that is assisting the Paris climate accord. “The 31 banks from around the world, participating in this joint action and representing total assets of $13 trillion, pledged to harmonize their portfolios and boost the financing for sustainable development required to limit the rising of average global temperature close to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” a statement from Piraeus Bank said. “Just as Piraeus Bank has played a leading role in shaping the Principles and their implementation framework, it will now lead in terms of applying them,” Piraeus Bank’s CEO Christos Megalou said. “We will integrate the Principles into our policies, set goals, and participate actively in the “Collective Commitment to Climate Action”, strengthening the Bank’s positive impacts on the environment and society.”