Senior correspondent, Brussels
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May 12, 2015

“What does Moscow want?” asks Georgian president

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The former Soviet republics of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are moving inexorably from the orbit of a Russian state that promotes values fundamentally alien to its neighbors, according to Georgia’s president.

President Georgy Margvelashvili told Reuters in an interview that Russia, which crushed Georgian forces in a 2008 five-day war, could offer no alternative to integration with the West.

May 11, 2015

Germany floats Greek referendum on reform, others doubt timing

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU paymaster Germany suggested on Monday that Greece might need a referendum to approve painful economic reforms on which its creditors are insisting, but Athens said it had no such plan for now and others warned a vote could delay vital aid.

Greece calmed immediate fears of a default by making a crucial 750 million euro payment to the International Monetary Fund a day early. But Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the liquidity situation was “terribly urgent” and a deal to release further funds was needed in the next couple of weeks.

May 11, 2015

EU finance ministers to chastise Turkey’s monetary policy – draft

BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) – Turkey’s “conflicting” monetary
policy is failing to lower inflation and a tighter stance is
needed, European Union finance ministers will tell Turkey on
Tuesday in a veiled rebuke of President Tayyip Erdogan’s demands
for lower interest rates.

According to a draft statement prepared for the European
Union’s yearly economy review of Turkey’s EU candidacy, finance
ministers will express their displeasure at Erdogan’s pressure
on the central bank, which has also unnerved investors.

May 11, 2015

Europe, Mexico to seek new trade pact to deepen North American ties

BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) – The European Union and Mexico
will launch negotiations towards a new free-trade agreement
later this year, as Europe seeks to tie its economy closer to
North America following a deal with Canada and efforts to sign
an accord with the United States.

Building on a pact with Mexico from 2000, the European Union
hopes to create a transatlantic free-trade zone and help set the
global rules of commerce before China does. Mexico is jumping
ahead of Brazil, whose talks towards a similar deal with the
European Union have stalled.

May 7, 2015

France, Germany offer hope for EU-U.S. trade deal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France and Germany on Thursday backed proposed reforms to the way disputes in international commercial accords are settled, raising hopes the European Union may unblock an issue holding up trade negotiations with the United States.

Opposition to investment arbitration threatens to derail talks between Europe and the United States on forming the world’s largest free-trade zone, as some EU governments say the current system lets companies bully governments and undermines the rule of law.

May 7, 2015

EU trade chief says Ukraine deal to start in 2016

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Thursday that a planned EU-Ukraine trade deal would be implemented from the start of 2016 despite Russian calls for further delay and threats of retaliation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow will curtail Ukraine’s access to vital Russian markets if Kiev implements any part of a trade deal with the European Union.

May 5, 2015

EU’s trade chief wants special court for investor disputes

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU’s trade chief proposed on Tuesday creating a new European court to settle disputes in international trade agreements, a step aimed at overcoming growing public resistance to a free-trade accord with the United States.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union’s trade commissioner, said the bloc needed to reform the way investors bring cases in trade treaties, amid concerns that U.S. firms could challenge EU law under the current system if Brussels and Washington reach agreement on a transatlantic trade deal they are negotiating.

May 5, 2015

Greece wants changes to EU-Canada trade deal to protect “feta” name

BRUSSELS, May 5 (Reuters) – Athens will not back a
multi-billion dollar trade pact between Canada and the European
Union unless the deal is changed to specify that only Greece can
use the term “feta” for its salty white cheese, according to a
document seen by Reuters.

After five years of difficult negotiations, Canada and the
European Union agreed a free-trade accord last year, but
unexpected wrangling over aspects of the final text have
intensified in recent months and could delay its ratification.

May 5, 2015

EU to stand by Ukraine trade deal at summit despite Russia-draft

BRUSSELS, May 5 (Reuters) – The European Union will
implement a free-trade pact with Ukraine from next year despite
Russian pressure for another delay, according to a draft
statement prepared for a summit with six of the bloc’s eastern
neighbours this month in Riga.

The joint declaration, which is likely to antagonise Moscow,
commits to the deal from Jan. 1, 2016, a date already a year
later than planned as Russia seeks to oppose European efforts to
integrate Ukraine and move it out of Moscow’s sphere of orbit.

May 4, 2015

Seeking global role, China presses Europe in diplomatic push

BRUSSELS/BEIJING (Reuters) – Seizing on the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Beijing has launched a diplomatic offensive to move Sino-European relations beyond trade and raise China’s international profile, buoyed by its success winning European participation in a new Asian bank.

A two-day visit by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to Beijing on Tuesday to meet top Chinese officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, follows up on a visit by the head of the European Parliament in March and comes ahead of a China-EU summit in Brussels in June.

    • About Robin

      "Robin Emmott is Reuters diplomatic correspondent in Brussels, covering the European Union’s foreign and security affairs and NATO. After spells in Amsterdam at Het Financeele Dagblad and in Mexico City with the Financial Times, Robin spent a decade covering Latin America for Reuters. Since 2011, he has been in Brussels writing on trade, foreign affairs and economics."
      Joined Reuters:
      Spanish, French
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