Friday, August 25, 2017

Macron's Agenda For Visit To Greece

French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Athens next month to send a message to fellow euro zone leaders about the need to strengthen the currency union, at a time when Greece is emerging from years of economic crisis, French officials said. “The idea is for France to be on Greece’s side to help this recovery,” an adviser to Macron said.

France has been on Greece's side for quite some time now. To be exact: since October 23, 2015, when the French Finance Minister Michel Sapin and his Greek counterpart Euclid Tsakalotos, in the presence of French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, signed a "Protocol between the Hellenic Republic and the French Republic For a Partnership for reforms in the Hellenic Republic." My reaction to this protocol at the time was that "France will modernize Greece."

Athens will certainly be a fitting place to announce the need for reforms of the Eurozone and of the EU altogether. Athens is an even more fitting place to make an interim check of all the reforms which Greece agreed with France to make only two years ago. The focus of the protocol was on the following areas:

Central administration reform
Tax reform
Privatization and public asset management

The protocol promised that "actions and relevant support, as well as clear a timetable of initiatives, will be defined and agreed between the Greek Authorities and the Reform Partner." The first step would be to check whether this was done. The second step would be to check compliance with the timetable of initiatives. Actually, the protocol promised that "the achievements of this Protocol will be reported twice a year to the two governments, by two senior civil servants, designated respectively by Greece and France."

If the above promises were kept in the last two years, they certainly received little or no attention in the media. Macron would provide an excellent public service if he brought the public up to date.


  1. When Manuel Vals visited Greece in June 2016, Νaftemporiki published this relevant article. (I hope Google Translate helps.)

  2. Here he goes again.
    It was just another no-plan. France pretends they have expertise within the 3 areas, Greece pretend they will cooperate with them. To fill the remaining 5 pages they need to repeat, again and again, all the buzz words.
    Structural reforms, growth and sustainability, unlocking just growth and employment, high level memorandum, ambitious reform strategy, ownership of reforms at the highest level, enhancing capability building and "a sustainable reform strategy of Greece towards a more efficient and competent-based administration and their crucial role in rebuilding the fiscal landscape, strengthening the tax system, unlocking growth but also enhancing the trust of the Greek citizens in the Greek administration".
    Then they all go home and nominate the various members of the committees that will implement the agreement, Tsipras also nominate the cadre (including his brother in law) who will spend the next few years at the Ecole Nationale d'Administration at Strasbourg. The planning goes so far that the French manage to write the heading on many of the issues to the master plan, but the Greek invariably write ASAP in the time frame window.
    Case closed.

  3. @kleingut.
    STATUS, if I may under sundries?
    When I returned to Greece in 2010 after 6 years absence, I started to make a file of relevant documents about the crises. After a couple of years I stopped collecting,realizing that I could go on for decades without finishing. I read quite a few of them over the weekend. All politicians denied the crises or minimized it, it could all be fixed with a quick "jump start", provided they were given the power and money. even a few European politicians believed in the "short cut", it was all about the debt.
    Quite a few , more analytical people, said, not so, it is about the lack of production, you was amongst them. The politicians said the production would sort itself out if the debt problem was solved. Wiser people said, not so, the production will only come when private foreign companies find it attractive to invest in private Greek ones. They also claimed that for that to happen Greece would have to create a good business climate, including strong institutions and a citizens culture wishing foreign private production companies. Further they claimed that Greece should make realistic specific plans for what production they would like to attract.
    Here we are, 7 wasted years later, with the debt problem on ice for a great many years, that Greece could use to fix their missing production. But the business climate is as it was, and the institutions are still as they were, the citizens still don't want foreign businesses, and not one Greek government body has made one realistic specific plan.
    I would like some opinions (preferably Greek) on how the business climate can be changed. But most important I would like to hear some suggestions as to what foreign private companies should invest in. It should be taken into account that the investor get a return (PROFIT), as many as possible gain employment and it is orientated towards export or import substitution.


    Austrian TV on Greece.

  5. Compared with this TFGR was exemplary in their clarity and transparency. They had one of the best (and shortest) Lettre de Mission, I have seen, they published quarterly reports. That was likely the reasons they were disliked in Greece.

  6. Tout d'abord bonjour.! Article très complet.
    je cherchais tout juste des réponses sur le sujet. Bonne journrée

  7. Great pals,the irony of it: Macron try to reduce some of the "workers" privileges in France, that Tsipras try to reintroduce in Greece.

  8. Tsipras woo investors and say to the Spanish one in Apivita Cosmetics that "profitability is not an end in itself". Attaboy, repeat that to the potential investors accompanying Macron.

    1. Actually, as an often accused neoliberal I would say that so wrong Tsipras is not when he says that. Even the legendary Jack Welch of GE once said (in retirement) that "shareholder value (i. e. ROE) is the dumbest idea in the world". What is to make of that?

      One cannot manage for profitability; one cannot manage for ROE. Both, profitability and ROE, are the RESULT of something and not an entity per se. A good ROE is the result of having done more of the good things and less of the bad things. If you want to increase ROE, you have to do more of the good things and less of the bad things.

      Now I suspect that Tsipras didn't really mean the above when he said that profitability was not an end in and by itself. He probably meant, true to his ideology, that the responsibility of businesses is to provide products and services to the consumers and if they make money in the process, that just means that they are charging too high prices. Whatever he may have meant, it would be great if someone challenged him to discuss what he really meant.

  9. @ kleingut.
    You are making light of the gents comments to Tsipras remark.
    I view investors (and bankers) as other professionals. It is a trade, a discipline, a set of skills and tools you make a living out of, like a carpenter does of his.
    I do not doubt that you have enjoyed much of your time as a banker, just as many carpenters enjoy making tables. I am sure you considered your wages as "an end in and by itself", or, at least, a condition for you to live your life and ply your trade. I doubt that you considered them as a by-products of "doing good".
    I hope my retirement will not cause me to share the viewpoint expressed by Jack Welch.
    As for what Tsipras meant, don't make it too complicated. He meant to impress a large part of the voters and some of his fellow travelers.

  10. Macron and his entourage came and went with lots of words. Albeit, not a word on the status of the burning issues they agreed upon in the previous protocol (MoU), but a new MoU, this time on assisting with the establishment of a Greek Development Bank. Good luck to them, KwF tried the same recently. Now, assistance can be understood in various ways, Greek politicians may understand it as financing said bank, I doubt the French do so.
    Likewise the delegation of business people, the Greeks thought they came to buy, in fact they came to sell, everything from upgrading of obsolete Mirage fighters to new frigates.
    Since both leaders are unable to change their countries to be fit for a modern global world, they agreed to change the world.