Greek EU investment subsidies threatened by budget cuts About half of Greece’s population is in danger of being affected by the prospect of cuts in the European Union subsidized Fourth Community Support Framework (CSF) structural investment plan in the 2007-2013 period. During yesterday’s discussion at the General Affairs Council in Brussels, the main contributors to the EU budget, led by Germany, made clear their intention to impose drastic cuts on the budget and CSF financing in particular, diverting the main volume of structural funds to the eight new central European members. The cuts are expected to affect the Greek regions with a per capita income more than 75 percent of the EU average. Yesterday’s discussion revealed that member countries have essentially been divided into two camps. Germany, Britain, France, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands insisted on the need to maintain the budget at 1 percent of the Union’s GDP. On the other hand, the European Commission and the other members, including Greece, insist on the budget reaching 1.24 percent of GDP, which would mean funding for Greece of 22 billion euros. The 1 percent limit would bring this down to 12 billion. Head of public tourism development company resigns Nikos Haritakis resigned yesterday as CEO of the state Tourism Development Company (ETA). This ends months of speculation as Haritakis had often clashed with Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who last November expressed his discontent with him and asked the company to adhere to the government’s program. Deputy Minister Anastassios Liaskos had told Kathimerini that ETA’s property management should develop tourism while enjoying social consensus. A relevant plan by Haritakis reportedly failed to toe this line, partly resulting in his quitting. His successor had not been announced by last night, but informed circles suggest the new ETA head will be a market person, possibly from the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee. BoC expansion After a profitable 2004, reversing the trend of the previous two years, the Bank of Cyprus group is planning the strengthening of its presence in Greece and its expansion to other countries in the region. The bank’s new head in Greece, Andreas Iliadis, stated yesterday the bank’s market share in Greece is 4 percent and rising, as deposits have increased by 37 percent every year since 2000. BoC intends to expand its network in Greece from 120 to 150 branches by the year’s end, Iliadis said. Minoan Lines Listed coastal shipping company Minoan Lines yesterday rejected press reports about its sale and management control by a particular stakeholder as inaccurate, saying there are no documents to prove them. The company’s board has also accepted the resignation of CEO Panayiotis Kasapakis and replaces him with Antonios Maniadakis, as of this Friday. Seamen to strike Deck hands intend to strike in early March, according to the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO), unless the Merchant Marine Ministry satisfies the sector’s set demands regarding low-rank crew job status, and tax and insurance issues. PNO accused the minister of stagnating in resolving their problems despite «the originally apparent prospects for their solution».