Investment strategy correspondent, London
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Feb 17, 2015

Hollande’s flagship economic reform law faces parliamentary test

PARIS, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Francois Hollande faces a major
test on Tuesday when his flagship economic reform bill is put to
parliament, 10 days before the European Commission rules on
whether France’s reforms go far enough to avoid sanctions for
its budget slippages.

The bill cuts red tape in a wide variety of areas including
allowing more shops to open on Sundays and evenings, speeding up
dismissal procedures, opening up long-distance bus routes and
exposing the legal professions to more competition.

Feb 16, 2015

Greece defies creditors, seeking credit but no bailout

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Talks between Greece and euro zone finance ministers over the country’s debt crisis broke down on Monday when Athens rejected a proposal to request a six-month extension of its international bailout package as “unacceptable”.

The unexpectedly rapid collapse raised doubts about Greece’s future in the single currency area after a new leftist-led government vowed to scrap the 240 billion euro bailout, reverse austerity policies and end cooperation with EU/IMF inspectors.

Feb 12, 2015

Greece agrees to talk to creditors in EU debt progress

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Greece agreed on Thursday to talk to its creditors about the way out of its hated international bailout in a political climbdown that could prevent its new leftist-led government running out of money as early as next month.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, attending his first European Union summit, agreed with the chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, that Greek officials would meet representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF on Friday.

Feb 11, 2015

Greek finance minister enters euro zone lions’ den

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis began tense talks with euro zone finance ministers on Wednesday after his new leftist-led government won a parliamentary confidence vote for its refusal to extend an international bailout.

The former academic said before leaving Athens he was ready for a clash with euro zone paymaster Germany and its allies over Greece’s decision to scrap austerity measures, end cooperation with the “troika” of EU/ECB/IMF officials overseeing its bailout programme and demand a “haircut” reducing its debt burden.

Feb 7, 2015

Different delivery, one message to Greece’s new leaders

ROME/PARIS (Reuters) – In Paris and Rome, it was sugar coated; in Berlin and Frankfurt unequivocal. But the message from European capitals to Greece’s new leaders was the same at every stop on last week’s tour – stick to your commitments.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will head to his first European summit on Thursday duly warned that it will be near impossible, as Athens wants, to rip up pledges made during the country’s four-year international bailout. Tsipras and his aides were also advised to learn the ways of diplomatic custom.

Feb 3, 2015

French finance minister: Europe budget sanctions ‘not acceptable’

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Commission must take low inflation and growth into account to give countries like France more time to rein in their budget deficits, Finance Minister Michel Sapin told Reuters, saying a “Europe of sanctions” was not acceptable.

The EU executive will rule in March on the budgets of repeat offenders France, Italy and Belgium after twice postponing its decision last year in order to give them more time to prove they were taking the right steps to get their deficits down to EU limits.

Feb 3, 2015

Greece cannot play France off against Germany -minister

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s finance minister warned Athens against any attempt to play Paris off against Berlin over Greece’s debt crisis, saying a Franco-German agreement was key to striking a deal that would help Greeks and ensure they met their commitments.

Greece’s demand for time to negotiate a “new deal” with its EU peers is reasonable as long as it comes up quickly with the basis for a reform plan that can be gradually beefed up, Michel Sapin told Reuters in an interview a day after he met Athens’ new finance minister.

Feb 1, 2015

Greece starts drive to sell new debt deal to doubting Europe

PARIS/ATHENS, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Greece’s leftist government
began its drive to persuade a sceptical Europe to accept a new
debt agreement on Sunday while it starts to roll back on
austerity measures imposed under its existing bailout agreement.

After a turbulent first week in office, the new government
has made clear it wants to end the existing arrangement with the
European Union, the European Central Bank and International
Monetary Fund “troika” when its aid deadline expires on Feb. 28.

Feb 1, 2015

Greece wants time for new deal, “cold turkey” on debt

PARIS, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Greece’s new government on Sunday
offered to produce proposals within a month for a revised debt
agreement with its sceptical international partners, insisting
it would not take on any more loan tranches in the meantime.

The proposal came after talks in Paris where French Finance
Minister Michel Sapin offered his Greek counterpart Yanis
Varoufakis backing to craft a deal possibly including some
alleviation of its debt load but no outright cancellation.

Jan 29, 2015

France: no waiver for Greece, maybe more time to pay debts

PARIS, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Greece could be given more time to
pay off its debt if it keeps its budget in balance and maintains
promised reforms, French officials said on Thursday.

In a series of statements spelling out Paris’s position days
before talks with the new government of Alexis Tsipras, senior
French officials ruled out any prospect of an outright
cancellation of Greek debt.