Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Greece to sell water, energy firms under EU deal

  • Greek voters said No to austerity in a referendum last month (Photo: Christopher Rose)

Greek privatisations under the EU bailout are set to include water companies, leading energy firms, and swathes of infrastructure.

The list, compiled by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, and agreed with creditors on 30 July, was published on Wednesday (19 August) by German Green MEP Sven Giegold.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He said the Greek public “hardly knows” what will be sold off and has “the right” to more “transparency”.

Two potentially controversial assets include Eyath and Eydap, which provide water and sewage services to the Thessaloniki and greater Athens regions.

But the 27-page document notes the Greek Council of State has declined to sell majority stakes to private operators, with just 23 percent of Eyath and 11 percent of Eydap up for grabs.

In the energy sector, the list includes: 66 percent of Desfa, a gas distribution and liquid gas processing firm, to be sold to Azerbaijan; up to 35 percent of oil refinery and petrol distribution firm Helpe; 17 percent of electricity distributor PPC; and up to 65 percent of gas distributor Depa.

The infrastructure portfolio is the largest.

It covers: 14 regional airports, to be sold to German firm Fraport for €1.2 billion plus investment obligations by March 2016; Hellinikion, a former Athens Airport; 67 percent of the Piraeus Port Authority to a list of potential buyers which includes a Chinese firm; and 67 percent of the Thessaloniki Port Authority, potentially to Russian Railways.

It also covers: 100 percent of national rail and bus service providers, Trainose and Eessty, potentially to Russian Railways; 30 percent of Athens International Airport; and a 648 km-long motorway, which connects northern Greece to Turkey.

Other assets to go under the hammer include: up to 90 percent of Elta, the Greek postal service, and OTE, the Greek phone service provider, which is already 40 percent-owned by Deutsche Telekom.

The money raised, together with the shares of EU-recapitalised Greek banks, will go into a new privatisation fund to be worth up to €50 billion and to be up-and-running by the end of the year.

Use of the income is to be monitored by the “troika” of Greek creditors: the European Commission; the European Central Bank; and the International Monetary Fund.

The sale of the regional airports to Fraport has already hit a snag, with the Greek government, in a statement published on Wednesday, saying it’s unhappy with the German firm’s request to renegotiate terms.

Local authorities also don’t like it.

“This deal would seriously impact the economy of our region. The possible increase in landing fees will put off low-cost and charter flights and have negative effects on tourism”, Theodoros Galiatsatos, the governor of the Ionian Islands, which host some of the airports, told Greek daily Kathimerini.

Galiatsatos was appointed with the support of Greek PM Alexis Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party.

Tsipras, who did a U-turn on reforms under pressure from creditors, has won praise from EU institutions and from Germany.

But Galiatsatos' complaint is one more sign of the split inside Syriza, not least due to the return of the troika, which Tsipras had promised to abolish in his election campaign.

The Greek PM, on Wednesday, wrote to European Parliament chief Martin Schulz asking for MEPs to join the troika structure for the sake of democratic oversight.

But Kathimerini, citing government sources, says the Syriza split is likely to see Tsipras call snap elections on 20 or 27 September, or, at the latest, on 11 October.

The new poll would create political uncertainty on the bailout deal.

But creditors say the EU package has broad support in the Greek parliament, including from opposition parties.

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Manchego cheese, Panjin rice and Polish vodka will all be protected under a new EU-China agreeement. But the two trading giants continue to struggle over other trade-related deals.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary, Poland block EU conclusions on rule of law
  2. France: wide EU backing for enlargement change
  3. EU Council calls for policy action to protect marine life
  4. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
  5. Suspected 'middleman' in Caruana Galizia case arrested
  6. European populists more favourable to Russia
  7. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  8. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us