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Ukraine to get help from new EU support group

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union plans to set up a special support group to help Ukraine stabilize its precarious economy and political situation, an EU diplomat said on Tuesday. Concern is growing that Moscow could be preparing for further military action in Ukraine and on Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces of stirring separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine.

U.S., Russia, Ukraine and EU to meet on Ukraine crisis

By Barbara Lewis BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine will meet at ministerial level next week to discuss the Ukraine crisis, the EU said on Tuesday, offering a glimpse of possible diplomatic progress in the conflict. The meeting will involve U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia, the EU said.

Briton wins prize for UK exit plan from EU, says economy could benefit

(Reuters) - Britain's economy could grow by 1.3 billion pounds if it left the European Union due to less regulation and more trade with emerging economies, a British diplomat who dreamt up a prize-winning blueprint for the country's EU exit said on Tuesday. Britain's free market Institute of Economic Affairs on Tuesday awarded a 100,000-euro prize to Iain Mansfield, a British diplomat based in the Philippines, who it decided had come up with the best blueprint for a 'Brexit,' a British departure from the EU.

EU's top court nixes snooping legislation, strengthens privacy rights

BRUSSELS - The European Union's top court on Tuesday dealt a blow to law-enforcement agencies' spying on phone and internet records, saying the lives of citizens should not be "the subject of constant surveillance." The European Court of Justice scrapped EU legislation allowing the indiscriminate collection of such communication data in crime-fighting efforts, finding that the rules were too broad and offered too few privacy safeguards.

EU, Ukraine hold talks on gas as tension with Moscow climbs

By Barbara Lewis BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ukraine's energy minister, EU officials and industry representatives held talks on Tuesday on cutting reliance on Russian gas as tension with Moscow drove home the urgency of finding alternative energy sources and supply routes. Concerns reached a new pitch after pro-Moscow protesters seized buildings in eastern Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking industrial heartland, which Kiev said is a replay of events in Crimea, the peninsula Moscow annexed last month.

EU study finds honey bees death rates are lower than feared

By Barbara Lewis BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A pioneering European Union survey into the impact of pests and diseases on honey bees found death rates were lower than feared, in part countering concerns about the collapse of colonies of the crop-pollinating insects. The study of 32,000 bee colonies across 17 EU member states from late 2012 until summer 2013 found winter mortality rates ranged from 3.5 percent to 33.6 percent.

Italy deficit falls to 2.8% in 2013

Italy's public deficit inched down to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2013 -- 0.1 of a point lower than in 2012 and staying below the EU threshold of 3.0 percent, official data showed on Monday. The data came a day before Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is to adopt on Tuesday an economic programme setting out economic growth and debt and deficit reduction targets for the next three years.

EU must be ready with Russia sanctions over Ukraine: Britain

By Justyna Pawlak ATHENS (Reuters) - Britain urged its European Union partners on Friday to press ahead with preparing tough economic sanctions against Russia, saying large numbers of Russian forces remained on Ukraine's eastern border and there had been only a "token" withdrawal.

Japan, EU exchange tariff offers in free trade talks

Japan and the European Union exchanged offers on reducing or abolishing tariffs during a current round of free trade talks, a key session before the 28-country bloc decides on whether to continue the talks based on progress made in getting Tokyo to reduce trade barriers, the Japanese government said Friday.

EU approves rules to shake up company book-keeping

By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union has approved some of the world's toughest rules for accountants in a bid to avoid a repeat of banks being given a clean bill of health just before taxpayers had to rescue them after the financial crisis of 2007-2009. The 28-country bloc's European Parliament approved a law on Thursday designed to stop any listed company from using the same accountancy firm for more than 20 years, a reform the United States has shied away from as a step too far.
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