BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A storm of outrage over Luxembourg’s role in helping global companies avoid tax plunged its former leader into controversy in his first week running the European Commission, the EU body that polices tax abuses.
Jean-Claude Juncker, 59, who took over as president of the EU executive after more than two decades as finance minister and prime minister of the tiny Grand Duchy, pulled out of a speaking engagement on Thursday. He repeated through a spokesman a remark made the previous day denying a conflict of interest and saying he would not hinder existing EU investigations of Luxembourg.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s auditor called on the bloc’s new executive on Wednesday to seek better value for taxpayers’ money as its report on the 2013 accounts estimated that up to 9 billion euros ($11.27 billion) may have been misspent.
However, at a time when national governments under pressure from Eurosceptic parties denouncing waste in Brussels, the European Court of Auditors criticized member states’ failure to curb fraudulent and other unjustified claims for EU cash and praised the commission’s efforts to claw back misdirected funds.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine, Russia and the European Union signed a deal on Thursday that will see Moscow resume vital supplies of gas to its ex-Soviet neighbor over the winter in return for payments funded in part by Kiev’s Western creditors.
After several failed rounds of talks in recent weeks as conflict rumbles on despite a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, the accord also eases concerns that a new “gas war” could disrupt winter supplies if energy to EU states, notably through pipelines shut down across Ukraine since June.
BRUSSELS/KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine and the European Union have agreed that the EU’s executive arm will serve as guarantor in any agreement for Russia to supply Ukraine with gas, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Thursday.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, meanwhile, said Moscow and Kiev could sign a gas deal later in the day if all necessary documents were finalised.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine’s efforts to unblock deliveries of Russian gas as winter sets in were deadlocked on Thursday as Moscow’s negotiators were quoted demanding firmer commitments from the European Union to cover Kiev’s pre-payments for energy.
EU-hosted talks were adjourned after running late into the night, Energy Minister Alexander Novak and the head of Russian gas firm Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) told Russian news agencies. They would resume later in the day if Ukraine and the EU had a firm financing deal in place, Gazprom head Alexei Miller said.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine and Russia bargained late into the night on Wednesday but European Union officials trying to broker a deal to resume gas supplies to Kiev as winter sets in said there was still no accord to announce.
At talks in Brussels hosted by energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger two days before he makes way for a new EU executive team, officials cancelled an evening news conference at which they had hoped to announce a deal after months of negotiation.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO aircraft tracked Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea on Wednesday and sorties of fighters over the Baltic in what the Western alliance called an unusual burst of activity at a tense time in East-West relations.
In all, NATO said in a statement, its jets had intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday, and some were still on maneuvers late on Wednesday afternoon.