ATHENS, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Greece took over the presidency of
the European Union on Wednesday and chose the moment to deliver
a staunch defence of its efforts to recover from six years of
recession and two bailouts that have cost it more than 200
Meeting Brussels-based journalists as Athens took on what is
largely a ceremonial EU role for the next six months, Foreign
Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Finance Minister Yannis
Stournaras were quick to highlight nascent signs of recovery,
with forecasts for the economy to grow marginally this year.
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek ministers delivered a staunch defense of their efforts to put the economy back on track on Wednesday and said they did not want any more conditional loans from the EU or IMF, although leeway would be helpful.
Meeting Brussels-based journalists on a visit to Athens as Greece takes over the presidency of the EU, Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras emphasized early signs of economic recovery while treading carefully around the issue of debt relief or renegotiation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.