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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Greece and The Brussels Group; Property Tax (ENFIA) to Remain; VAT Rates; A Compromise? A US Warning; PM Tsipras Interview - Greece the Epicentre of Conflict?

From To Vima, International Edition

Brussels Group talks: Agreement closer than ever - ENFIA tax to remain in place in 2015

"The discussions at present are reportedly focused on deciding which VAT rate applies to the various categories of products and services. Food and medication is likely to have a low VAT rate, while hotels and tickets will be taxed more. Meanwhile, it appears that the controversial ENFIA real estate tax will remain in place in 2015, without any changes, as it may generate up to 2.6 billion euros. The creditors have also requested that it remains in place in 2016 as well. The Minister of Finances Yanis Varoufakis, who spoke to Vima 99.5 FM, revealed that any changes to the tax must be accompanied by alternative measures. He stated that the tax is “repulsive and unacceptable”.

Greece: The "final proposals" on VAT rates (FPA), from - Οι τελικές προτάσεις για τις αλλαγές στον ΦΠΑ

Greece Open To Compromise (Reuters)

US Warning (Reuters)

Locked in Talks (Kathimerini)

A denouement soon? One wonders, if SYRIZA can't even agree internally on the selection of Greece's IMF Representative.

Text of Le Monde Interview, in English

Some excerpts:

"Let's be be clear:

The lack of an agreement so far is not due to the supposed intransigent, uncompromising and incomprehensible Greek stance.

It is due to the insistence of certain institutional actors on submitting absurd proposals and displaying a total indifference to the recent democratic choice of the Greek people, despite the public admission of the three Institutions that necessary flexibility will be provided in order to respect the popular verdict.

What is driving this insistence?

An initial thought would be that this insistence is due to the desire of some to not admit their mistakes and instead, to reaffirm their choices by ignoring their failures.

Moreover, we must not forget the public admission made a few years ago by the IMF that they erred in calculating the depth of the recession that would be caused by the Memorandum.

I consider this, however, to be a shallow approach. I simply cannot believe that the future of Europe depends on the stubbornness or the insistence of some individuals.

My conclusion, therefore, is that the issue of Greece does not only concern Greece; rather, it is the very epicenter of conflict between two diametrically opposing strategies concerning the future of European unification.

The first strategy aims to deepen European unification in the context of equality and solidarity between its people and citizens...

The second strategy seeks precisely this: The split and the division of the Eurozone, and consequently of the EU.

The first step to accomplishing this is to create a two-speed Eurozone where the “core” will set tough rules regarding austerity and adaptation and will appoint a “super” Finance Minister of the EZ with unlimited power, and with the ability to even reject budgets of sovereign states that are not aligned with the doctrines of extreme neoliberalism.

For those countries that refuse to bow to the new authority, the solution will be simple: Harsh punishment. Mandatory austerity. And even worse, more restrictions on the movement of capital, disciplinary sanctions, fines and even a parallel currency.

Judging from the present circumstances, it appears that this new European power is being constructed, with Greece being the first victim. To some, this represents a golden opportunity to make an example out of Greece for other countries that might be thinking of not following this new line of discipline.

What is not being taken into account is the high amount of risk and the enormous dangers involved in this second strategy. This strategy not only risks the beginning of the end for the European unification project by shifting the Eurozone from a monetary union to an exchange rate zone, but it also triggers economic and political uncertainty, which is likely to entirely transform the economic and political balances throughout the West.

Europe, therefore, is at a crossroads. Following the serious concessions made by the Greek government, the decision is now not in the hands of the institutions, which in any case – with the exception of the European Commission- are not elected and are not accountable to the people, but rather in the hands of Europe’s leaders.

Which strategy will prevail? The one that calls for a Europe of solidarity, equality and democracy, or the one that calls for rupture and division?"

A. Tsipras. Two Diametrically-Opposed Strategies for Europe (Mignatiou)

From Kathimerini

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