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Feb 19, 2014

Reluctant EU shifts course towards sanctions on Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union shifted course on Wednesday and moved to impose financial and travel restrictions on Ukraine after the death of two dozen protesters in Kiev, even though diplomats have doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions.

Having said less than a week ago that the time was not right for sanctions on President Viktor Yanukovich and his government, officials changed tack after a police crackdown in Kiev left at least 26 people dead on Tuesday.

Feb 17, 2014

‘Green and clean’ tech Finland looks to Israel for inspiration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen is determined to overhaul his economy, and cites Israel’s success as a “start-up” nation brimming with high-tech innovation as his model.

With just 5.4 million people, a world-class education system and an international mindset, Finland can be more nimble than many of its competitors at a time when its industrial output is in decline and productivity falling.

Feb 14, 2014

Euro zone integration at a limit, more with next crisis: Bruegel head

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro zone economic integration may have reached its limits for now even though the 18-country monetary union needs a treasury to make it work better, the head of the influential Bruegel think-tank said on Friday.

Speaking at the Reuters Euro Zone Summit, Guntram Wolff said policymakers have used the sovereign debt crisis of the last three years to shore up the euro zone, but not impregnably.

Feb 13, 2014

As European elections approach, will the anti-EU surge?

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – If there’s one issue playing on the minds of EU leaders – perhaps even more than galvanizing their economies and tackling unemployment – it is May’s elections to the European Parliament.

Since the first direct vote was held in 1979, the five-yearly exercise has been regarded as a minor affair, with turnout falling at every turn, dropping to barely 40 percent at the last ballot in 2009.

Feb 12, 2014

UKIP seeks to push UK Labour party into EU referendum pledge

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – If Britain’s opposition Labour party backs a referendum on membership of the European Union the chances of Britain leaving the EU will greatly increase, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said on Wednesday.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has promised voters an “in or out” referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017. Labour is considering whether to match that pledge, which polls suggest the electorate wants.

Feb 12, 2014

Now is not time for sanctions on Ukraine: Barroso

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Imposing sanctions on Ukraine now would be a mistake and the priority should be creating the right conditions for a peaceful political transition, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.

In secret recordings released on the Internet last week, a senior U.S. official was caught disparaging EU policy on Ukraine and suggesting the bloc had been soft after Kiev’s decision to reject an EU trade deal and accept cheap loans from Russia.

Feb 10, 2014

New ‘Prague spring’ to bring closer EU ties: Czech minister

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Two weeks into his new job, the foreign minister of the Czech Republic is helping to project a more positive attitude towards the European Union, overturning years of skepticism that has at times pushed his country to Europe’s margins.

Attending his first EU foreign ministers’ meeting since being appointed on January 29, Lubomir Zaoralek said the new center-left government was determined to re-engage with Europe and show its commitment to joining the euro, even if it remains too early to set a date.

Feb 10, 2014

France must reform to keep its side of EU bargain: Rehn

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France must implement economic reforms to keep its side of a bargain with the European Commission which granted Paris more time to cut its budget gap in return, EU economics chief Olli Rehn said on Monday.

Last May, the Commission gave France two extra years to bring its budget deficit to within the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product, rather than move towards fines for Paris for missing the original 2013 deadline.

Feb 10, 2014

EU must be ready to impose sanctions on Ukraine: Czech minister

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union must be ready to impose sanctions on Ukraine if the government persists in using violence against protesters, the foreign minister of the Czech Republic said on Monday as he warned against Soviet-style authoritarianism.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, where Ukraine is to be discussed, Lubomir Zaoralek said it was unacceptable to see human rights being blatantly violated on the borders of the European Union.

Feb 5, 2014

‘Time is on our side’, says EU in showdown over Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – If there is a consistent message the European Union has tried to send since Ukraine rejected a trade deal last November in favor of stronger ties with Moscow, it is that it does not want to end up in a tug-of-war with Russia.

But whether the EU likes it or not, that is precisely what has come to pass and the future of Ukraine – its 46 million people and its faltering economy – hangs in the balance.

    • About Luke

      "Luke is bureau chief for Reuters in Brussels. The 25-strong, multimedia bureau covers all European Union issues, from trade, energy and agriculture to foreign policy, competition, regulation and economic affairs. The bureau is also responsible for coverage of NATO and Belgian politics, economics and company news. In his beat, Luke covers foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East and Iran, and writes about EU economic policy. He was previously based in London, where he was defence correspondent, and before that had postings in Jerusalem, Baghdad, Rome and Johannesburg."
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