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Dec 20, 2013

S&P cuts EU’s AAA rating, European officials dismiss move

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Credit agency Standard & Poor’s cut its triple-A rating of the European Union by one notch on Friday, saying it had concerns about how the bloc’s budget was financed, a view EU leaders and other officials dismissed as misguided.

S&P’s announcement came the day after the EU reached a deal to overhaul the region’s banking sector, an agreement many commentators said fell short of expectations, although S&P said it had not factored into its credit assessment.

Dec 20, 2013

S&P cut of EU rating dismissed by European officials

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Credit agency Standard & Poor’s cut its long-term rating of the European Union by one notch to AA+ on Friday, saying it had concerns about how the bloc’s budget was financed, a view EU leaders and other officials dismissed as misguided.

“In our opinion, the overall creditworthiness of the now 28 European Union member states has declined,” S&P said in a statement that came 11 months after it announced it had a ‘negative’ outlook on the bloc.

Dec 19, 2013

EU leaders face moment of reflection over Ukraine debacle

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European leaders face a session of soul-searching and strategy planning over Ukraine at their year-end summit on Friday when they will discuss why Kiev rejected an EU free trade deal and took a bailout from Russia instead.

As well as weighing Ukraine’s decision to turn away and what Europe might have done to prevent it, leaders will debate the message they want to send to swathes of Ukrainians now protesting against President Viktor Yanukovich’s move.

Dec 16, 2013

Banking union: Nice idea but detail still devilish

BRUSSELS/DUBLIN (Reuters) – In the beginning, the European Union came up with two words: Banking Union. It sounded simple, solid, united, dependable.

But in the 18 months since the idea was put on paper, the phrase has come to mask a vastly complicated and not yet very united system that may fall short of resolving the problems afflicting Europe’s banks over the past five years.

Dec 11, 2013

EU talking to IMF, World Bank, others about Ukraine assistance

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European officials are in discussion with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other major financial institutions on ways to help Ukraine if it decides to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was quoted as saying on Wednesday he had asked the EU for 20 billion euros ($27 billion) in aid to offset the cost of signing the EU deal, which Kiev backed away from last month in favor of closer ties with Russia, sparking huge street protests and a financial crisis.

Dec 10, 2013

Mandela, a natural charmer with the measure of those he met

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Thousands upon thousands of people, great and small, met Nelson Mandela, and as a correspondent in South Africa from 1997-2000, I was fortunate to be among them.

During his presidency and in the early years of his retirement from office, Mandela made a point of meeting as many of the people who beat a path to his door as possible.

Dec 6, 2013

Six months to go, momentum builds ahead of EU parliament vote

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Next May’s elections to the European Parliament promise to be among the most closely watched since the 1970s, with many in Europe expected to show their frustration with the economic crisis by voting for anti-EU or protest parties.

While that analysis has become the received wisdom, political experts are less convinced, suggesting that while there may be an increase in protest votes, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as large as some have predicted.

Nov 29, 2013

IMF postpone visit to Athens in dispute over reform

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – International inspectors from the EU and IMF have called off a planned visit to Greece next week, officials told Reuters on Friday, a move that marks a new low in relations between the parties and could delay aid payments to Athens.

The decision to postpone the visit may be an attempt by the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund – together known as the ‘troika’ – to bring Athens to heel as frustration grows over Greece’s failure to complete the reforms it has promised in return for aid.

Nov 28, 2013

EU leaders set for frosty dinner with Ukraine’s Yanukovich

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European leaders will come face-to-face with Viktor Yanukovich on Thursday for the first time since the Ukrainian president spurned their offer of a free-trade deal and decided to seek closer ties with Russia instead.

In a meeting that promises to be one of the frostier moments of political theatre this year, Yanukovich plans to attend a dinner in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to honor the Eastern Partnership, the EU’s four-year-old program of outreach to former Soviet states.

Nov 25, 2013

Police, pro-Europe protesters clash in Ukraine, EU condemns Russia

BRUSSELS/KIEV (Reuters) – The European Union expressed strong disapproval on Monday over Russia’s pressure on Ukraine to reject an EU trade deal, while police fired tear gas at pro-Europe protesters in the former Soviet republic’s capital, Kiev.

Ukraine had been expected to sign a far-reaching trade and political association agreement with the EU at a summit in Vilnius on Friday. But it suddenly announced last week it had decided to seek closer trade relations with Moscow instead.

    • 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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