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  • The Commission on Wednesday granted France two extra years to bring its deficit under an EU ceiling of three percent of output but also urged it to specify new consolidation measures and structural reforms within three months or face sanctions. Asked on France 2 television whether there would be tax rises as a result, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll...

  • VIENNA, Feb 26- The euro zone must follow less restrictive economic policies if it wants desired levels of growth and inflation, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told an Austrian paper, adding talks with the EU on cutting France's budget deficit were "optimal". Asked about the EU giving France more time to meet its deficit target, he said: "I for my part had...

  • DIARY-Top Economic Events to March 10 Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 7:01 PM ET

    ATLANTA, United States- Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart speaks on monetary policy and the economic outlook before the 2015 Banking Outlook Conference- 1800 GMT. LONDON- Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher gives a lecture on "Reflections on 10 Years at the Fed: Through the Financial Crisis" at event hosted by the...

  • PARIS, Feb 25- France announced plans for fresh labour reforms on Wednesday, and the European Commission granted it a new two-year delay to meet an EU deficit target but gave Paris three months to do more to revamp its economy and finances or face sanctions. A years-long standoff between Paris and Brussels has seen French leaders repeatedly miss...

  • France avoids EU penalties over budget deficits Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 11:53 AM ET

    BRUSSELS— France will avoid punishment for missing its budget deficit targets after the European Union gave it two more years to come into line. European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said Wednesday that France now has a 2017 deadline to get its budget deficit equal to or below 3 percent of annual gross domestic product.

  • Putin threatens Ukraine with gas cutoff Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 11:14 AM ET

    MOSCOW— President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia will cut gas supplies to Ukraine if it fails to pay in advance for future deliveries. Putin said that Ukraine's latest payment would be good only for another three to four days, warning that Russia will have to turn off the tap if Ukraine doesn't remit payment quickly. Last week, Russia accused Ukraine...

  • UPDATE 1-French PM wants new labour reform law by summer Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 10:14 AM ET

    PARIS, Feb 25- The French government wants to see new labour rules adopted in parliament by the summer, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in France's latest effort to boost growth and prove to EU peers it is serious about reform. Less than an hour before the European Commission was due to make known its ruling on France's budget, Valls announced his new reform plan to...

  • LONDON, Feb 25- Ireland has no problem in principle with the idea of swapping Greece's official debt for growth-linked bonds but would have to see the details of any proposal, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said on Wednesday. Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to a four-month extension of Greece's EU/IMF bailout programme, subject to its economic...

  • Bank regulation takes back seat to kick-starting economy Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 9:23 AM ET

    *European Commission may ease some proposed rules. LONDON/ FRANKFURT, Feb 25- As the banking crisis fades in memory, only to be replaced by a lingering economic slowdown, governments are losing interest in financial reform despite warnings that dangers still lurk. "The bulk of legislative reform is now either in place or being put in place," said Anthony Browne, chief...

  • EU unveils vast plan to merge 28 energy markets Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 7:15 AM ET

    BRUSSELS— The European Union's executive has unveiled a vast plan to boost coordination between the EU's 28 national energy markets to wean Europe off unstable Russian gas supplies and provide cheaper energy for consumers. Europe imports 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia, half via pipelines through conflict-torn Ukraine, and it could to take years of...

  • LONDON, Feb 25- Labor unions and a charity accused fast food chain McDonald's of avoiding around 1 billion euros in tax between 2009 and 2013 by routing revenues through a Luxembourg unit and called on the European Commission to investigate. Corporate tax avoidance has become a hot political issue in Europe and the EU executive has opened investigations into...

  • Greek leader faces criticism on austerity concessions Wednesday, 25 Feb 2015 | 6:19 AM ET

    ATHENS, Greece— Greece's prime minister was locked in a marathon meeting with his party's lawmakers Wednesday, briefing them on pledges made to European creditors to win a four-month extension of the country's bailout amid simmering party discontent over what some see as a capitulation. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, elected last month on the promise to...

  • *Ukraine says Gazprom delivers less than already paid. MOSCOW, Feb 25- Russia does not expect a payment dispute with Kiev to lead to a break in gas supplies to Europe and expects Ukraine to make its next gas payment soon, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday. Kiev and Moscow have argued over gas supplies and pricing for the past year as Ukrainian forces...

  • With Moscow in financial crisis, it is not clear if its latest plan- a route passing through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, then into Hungary and perhaps on to Austria- will ever come to fruition. But even if it only exists on paper, it may undermine funding for rival projects and, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, sow division between EU members over...

  • Russia last year aborted South Stream, a $40 billion pipeline that was to have passed under the Black Sea and via Bulgaria, in the face of objections from the European Union. With Moscow in financial crisis, it is not clear if its latest plan- a route passing through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, then into Hungary and perhaps on to Austria- will ever come to...

  • EU moves ahead with greenhouse gas trading reform Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 | 12:33 PM ET

    BRUSSELS— European Union lawmakers have backed plans to reform the EU's vast greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme to protect it from fluctuations in the economy. The system sets limits on certain greenhouse gases that factories and power plants can emit and allows companies to trade allowances if they cannot avoid more emissions. Heavy fines are imposed...

  • *Germany's Schaeuble requests parliament vote to extend bailout. BRUSSELS/ BERLIN, Feb 24- Greece secured a four-month extension of its financial rescue on Tuesday when its euro zone partners approved a reform plan that backed down on key leftist measures and promised that spending to alleviate social distress would not derail its budget.

  • *Gazprom says gas transit to Europe under threat. KIEV/ MOSCOW, Feb 24- Russia's Gazprom threatened on Tuesday to switch off gas to Ukraine within days unless it sends more money, and said transit to Europe could be under threat, reviving a dispute that had been set aside since December. "It creates serious risks for gas transit to Europe," Gazprom said.

  • LONDON, Feb 24- Support for Britain remaining in the European Union has hit its highest in more than four years, according to a poll published on Tuesday, which coincided with a fall in support for the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party. Pollsters YouGov said 45 percent of people surveyed said they would vote to stay in the EU, compared to 35 percent who would opt to...

  • BRUSSELS, Feb 24- Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt will meet Europe's antitrust chief next week, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday, a move likely to help regulators decide the next step in a four year-old investigation into the Internet company. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has met more than a dozen Google...