Brussels Letter week beginning May 16
Last week, the Eurogroup discussed the state of play of the first review of Greece’s European Stability Mechanism (ESM) program. Three main points were on the agenda. First, the Eurogroup took stock of progress made with the package of reforms required to complete the first review. This package includes, among others, the pension reform, income tax reform (both of which were adopted by the Greek Parliament on Sunday), as well as measures to tackle non-performing loans, the establishment of the privatization and investment fund and the independent revenue agency. Second, the Eurogroup discussed a contingency mechanism, which should deliver an extra layer of reassurance concerning the achievement of the agreed fiscal targets. Finally, the Eurogroup started discussing debt issues.
Prosecutors in Luxembourg asked for 18 months jail term for two whistleblowers and fines for the journalist involved in revealing the scandal. The Luxleaks financial scandal, which was revealed in November 2014, is based on the leaking of confidential information about Luxembourg’s companies’ tax avoidance system. The leaks made public the tax rulings for over 300 multinational companies.
Facility for refugees in Turkey
The Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels to agree the practicalities of how support through the Facility will be accelerated in the months to come, with €1 billion in commitments foreseen by the end of July.
The European Commission has blocked the proposed acquisition of O2 by Hutchison under EU merger regulations. It had strong concerns that U.K. mobile customers would have had less choice and paid higher prices as a result of the takeover, and that the deal would have harmed innovation in the mobile sector.
European Parliament members voted against granting market economy status (MES) to China in a non-legislative resolution passed by 546 votes to 28. The EU’s granting of market economy status to China would make it more difficult to impose anti-dumping duties on the county’s goods.
EU Turkey deal
The European Parliaments Civil Liberties Committee delegation will travel to Greece this week to check the situation of refugees and assess how the EU-Turkey deal is being implemented.