Effort to cover up minister’s Brussels trip suggests unease about PPC

Bailout-related energy sector talks for measures being negotiated by Greek government officials and the country’s lenders will resume in Brussels today without any narrowing of a gap left last time the two sides met in Athens a couple of weeks earlier.

The government is exteremely concerned that demands by the lenders for the sale of main power utility PPC units will spill over into the country’s political arena and destabilize the coalition, holding on to a slim majority.

Reflecting this unease, energy minister Giorgos Stathakis and his associates appear to have attempted to cover up his trip to Brussels. The minister was notified about the need to be in Brussels on Monday but news of the trip only became known after information was leaked yesterday.

In recent days, the government seems to have misled the media by creating an impression that energy issues would be temporarily put aside in the latest bailout review talks so as to allow for the negotiating sides to focus on pending labor matters.

Stathakis, who flew to Brussels from Berlin, where he was invited to attend an energy conference, will remain in the Belgian capital for as many days as are required for the negotiations, government sources informed.

The European Commission, which has emerged as the prime negotiator among the country’s lenders for energy sector matters, appears to be giving up on the recently introduced NOME auctions as an effective tool that may reduce PPC’s dominant market share and is expected to push hard for the sale of PPC units.

Local market players are maneuvering in anticipation of such a development. Chinese firms, they believe, will play a key role if PPC units are sold.