EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Correspondent
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May 19, 2015

Europe dampens Greek hopes of swift deal as clock ticks

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European lenders on Tuesday played down Greek hopes of a swift end to negotiations on an aid agreement and warned talks must speed up before the country runs out of cash.

A sober outlook from Brussels and Berlin contrasted sharply with vigorous optimism displayed in Athens, where top officials from the new leftist government made a series of public appearances to promise a deal was just days away.

May 19, 2015

Faster ECB money-printing excites investors

FRANKFURT/ BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank will accelerate the pace of money printing to buy government bonds over the next two months, one of its top officials said, while voicing concern about recent swings on bond markets.

The comments from Benoit Coeure, initially made in private on Monday at a conference attended by one of Britain’s richest hedge fund managers Alan Howard, some of his peers and academics, sent markets into a flurry when they were published on Tuesday.

May 13, 2015

EU Commission says Germany should invest, France must reform

BRUSSELS, May 13 (Reuters) – Germany should take advantage
of stronger economic growth to invest more and France needs
fiscal reform so it can meet its deficit reduction targets by a
2017 deadline, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

In annual economic policy recommendations to all European
Union countries except Greece and Cyprus, which are in bailout
programmes, the EU executive arm also said Italy was justified
in consolidating public finances more slowly to support reforms.

May 13, 2015

Euro zone economy picks up pace but Germany lags

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A slowdown in Germany weighed on the euro zone in the first quarter, but the bloc’s economy still grew at its fastest in almost two years as cheap food and fuel boosted spending and a central bank stimulus program kicked in.

Gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter for a 1.0 percent year-on-year rise – just below forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

May 12, 2015

EU ministers, Commission to agree on flexibility in budget rules this year

BRUSSELS, May 12 (Reuters) – European Union finance
ministers and the European Commission will agree this year on a
new interpretation of EU budget rules to establish how much
leeway countries can have in meeting those rules, EU officials
said.

The interpretation of the rules – called the Code of Conduct
- needs to be updated because the Commission and EU governments
differ on when governments can get more time to reduce their
budget deficits.

May 8, 2015

EU ministers to query backdoor softening of budget rules

BRUSSELS, May 8 (Reuters) – EU finance ministers will debate
on Tuesday whether the European Commission softened the bloc’s
budget rules too far through the back door by giving governments
leeway on deficit reduction in return for planned reforms before
they are implemented.

Under the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact, states
have to cut the public deficit by 0.5 percent of gross domestic
product a year in structural terms until they reach balance or a
surplus. If they don’t, they face EU disciplinary action.

May 5, 2015

Greece blows hot and cold in race to avert cash crunch

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Greece blew hot and cold with its euro zone partners on Tuesday as it struggled to avert a potentially catastrophic funding crunch this month, when it must make a big debt repayment to the IMF as cash reserves dry up.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said after talks in Paris and Brussels that he expected euro zone finance ministers to acknowledge next Monday progress towards a cash-for-reform deal, opening the way to easing Athens’ liquidity crisis.

May 5, 2015

Greece steps up diplomacy to avert cash crunch

ATHENS/BRUSSELS, May 5 (Reuters) – Greece stepped up
diplomacy with euro zone partners on Tuesday to try to avert a
potentially catastrophic funding crunch this month, when it must
make a big debt repayment to the IMF as cash reserves dry up.

Ministers were travelling to Frankfurt, Brussels and Paris
to plead for a loosening of the financial stranglehold on Athens
after leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke by telephone
to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s pre-eminent leader.

May 5, 2015

EU Commission sharply cuts Greek growth, primary surplus forecasts

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission slashed Greek economic growth and primary surplus projections on Tuesday and forecast deeper price falls and a higher public debt as a result of uncertainty that has dogged Athens policy direction since late 2014.

The Commission, which finished gathering data for its forecast on April 21, said it now expected the Greek economy would grow only 0.5 percent this year, after 0.8 percent in 2014 and accelerate to 2.9 percent in 2016, unless policies change.

May 4, 2015

Pension, labor disputes dog Greek talks as cash dwindles

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Wide differences over pension and labor reforms continued to dog intensive negotiations between Greece’s leftist government and its international creditors despite progress in other areas as the country’s cash position becomes increasingly critical.

Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis sounded the alarm on Monday, saying that while Athens intended to meet all its payment obligations, including nearly 1 billion euros to the IMF in May, it needed fresh funds before the end of the month.

    • About Jan

      "Based in Brussels since 2005, I cover economic policy news from the European Commission, EU and euro zone economic data, monthly meetings of EU/euro zone finance ministers as well as G7/8/20 meetings. Before Brussels I was a correspondent in Stockholm for five years, covering technology stocks and the Swedish central bank. I was earlier a correspondent in Poland for seven years, covering macroeconomic policy, bond, forex and money markets, the central bank and politics."
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