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Russia parliament vows to back Crimea referendum result

Russia's lower and upper houses of parliament on Friday pledged to vote into law the result of a "historic" March 16 referendum in the Ukrainian region of Crimea on becoming part of Russia. The speakers of both the State Duma and Federation Council strongly implied that ratification would receive fast-track rubber-stamp approval if Crimeans -- as is widely expected -- vote to become part of Russia.

EU-Russia ties at risk failing de-escalation

The European Union warned on Monday that EU-Russia ties were at risk if Moscow failed to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine. "In the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia the EU shall decide about consequences for bilateral relations of EU and Russia," said a statement obtained by AFP that was agreed by the bloc's 28 foreign ministers at hastily-convened crisis talks on Ukraine.

EU steers new course on Cuba

The European Union set its ties with Cuba on a fresh diplomatic tack Monday, opting to launch political talks with Havana while keeping an eye on human rights. At talks in Brussels, foreign ministers from the 28-nation bloc endorsed a mandate to negotiate a political and cooperation agreement that ultimately will lead to a broadening of trade and economic ties.

Spanish official talks trade, economy in Mexico

Mexico City, Feb 4 (EFE).- Spain's secretary of state for Trade arrived Tuesday in Mexico to meet with high government officials and business leaders to agree upon the subjects to be discussed at the next meeting of the Mexico-Spain Binational Commission. Jaime Garcia-Legaz met with a delegation of the Mexican Economy Secretariat headed by the deputy secretary for Foreign Trade, Francisco de Rosenzweig. The two men presided over a meeting of the Subcommission of Economic-Financial Affairs of the 11th Mexico-Spain Binational Commission, to be held later this year in Mexico.

Ombudsman wants EU probed for corruption

The European Union's own institutions should be probed for corruption, the EU's watchdog said Tuesday, a day after a senior official described the bloc's graft problem as "breathtaking." "The EU administration has to live up to the very highest standards," European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly said in a statement, adding that it largely does so and compares favourably with many member states. However, it should not be complacent, and accordingly, O'Reilly encouraged the European Commission to "include the EU institutions in the next Anti-Corruption Report."

EU green energy law is flawed- adviser to EU top court

By Barbara Lewis BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Part of a law to promote green energy violates the treaties underpinning the European Union, an adviser to the highest EU court found on Tuesday, stoking political debate about subsidies for renewable power. The opinion will be considered further by the Court of Justice of the European Union over the next three to six months and could lead to the invalidation of an article of the EU law. The European Commission, the EU executive, said it could not comment on ongoing cases.

EU sets up special advisory group on US trade talks

The European Commission said Monday it was setting up an advisory group of business and union people to help EU negotiators in talks on the world's biggest free trade deal with the United States. The Commission, the EU's executive arm, said the special advisory group will promote transparency in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks which began last year

EU's top court rejects UK challenge to short-selling law

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's top court has dismissed Britain's challenge to the bloc's law on banning the short-selling of shares in market emergencies. The ruling is a blow to Britain's attempts to limit the scope of financial rules from Brussels as Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to renegotiate the country's membership of the EU.

EU seeks public comment on US trade pact investment protection terms

The European Commission said Tuesday it will seek public comment on controversial investment protection provisions being negotiated as part of a massive EU-US free trade deal. "I know some people in Europe have genuine concerns about this part of the EU-US deal. Now I want them to have their say," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. "Some existing arrangements have caused problems in practice, allowing companies to exploit loopholes where the legal text has been vague," De Gucht noted in a statement.

EU seeks public comment on US trade pact investment protection terms

The European Commission said Tuesday it will seek public comment on controversial investment protection provisions being negotiated as part of a massive EU-US free trade deal. "I know some people in Europe have genuine concerns about this part of the EU-US deal. Now I want them to have their say," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. "Some existing arrangements have caused problems in practice, allowing companies to exploit loopholes where the legal text has been vague," De Gucht noted in a statement.
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