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EU's Rehn promises swift Ukraine aid, plays down Russia sanctions

ATHENS (Reuters) - The European Union will make a swift payment of financial aid to Ukraine, the European Union's economy chief said on Tuesday, dismissing the possibility of economic sanctions against Russia unless it takes more action. Olli Rehn's comments offered the prospect of quick financial backing from Europe for Ukraine, as Kiev faces a price hike on the gas that it buys from Russia following its attempt to resist interference from Moscow.

EU's finance chief backs idea of Ukraine donor conference

The EU's economics commissioner, Olli Rehn, came out in favour Tuesday of calls for a donors' conference on Ukraine to help pull the country from the brink of economic collapse. Speaking at a news conference at the European Parliament, Rehn said the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, "stands ready to provide substantial financial assistance once a political solution is in place." Ukraine's new leaders have appealed for $35 billion in assistance and Rehn said it was "essential" that the government-to-be present a "convincing" economic plan.

Greece back in the black for first time since 1948

Greece was back in the black for the first time since 1948, the EU's economics commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday as figures showed the economically-hobbled nation returning to growth. "Greece has for the first time since 1948 reached a current account surplus," Rehn told a news conference on presenting better-than-expected growth forecasts for the European Union for this year and next. The EU's winter forecasts showed Greece returning to growth of 0.6 percent this year, with a significant leap of 2.9 percent expected for 2015, after a long and damaging recession.

Italy failing to cut debt quickly enough: EU's Rehn

Italy is failing to cut debt quickly enough but is past the worst of its crisis, the EU's Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in an interview in La Repubblica newspaper on Tuesday. "Italy should respect a certain speed of debt reduction, and it is not doing so. The structural adjustment should have been equal to half a percentage point of gross domestic product, and it is only 0.1 percent," he said. "And it is for that reason that Italy has no room for manoeuvre," Rehn said.

Saccomanni says EU worried by amendments to Italian budget

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is worried about the vast number of changes being proposed to Italy's 2014 budget during its passage through parliament, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said on Wednesday. Parties inside and outside Enrico Letta's ruling coalition criticized the budget when it was presented in September and have tabled more than 3,000 amendments to the bill which must be approved by parliament by the end of the year.

French budget shows 'responsibility and prudence': EU's Rehn

The French budget for 2014 shows "responsiblity and prudence" the EU's Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Thursday as he urged France to press on with reforms. France on Wednesday vowed "unprecedented" cuts in public spending to rein in its deficit and French Finance Minster Pierre Moscovici came to Brussels to present the draft 2014 budget to the Commission, which has been highly critical of how Paris has been handling its economy.

French budget shows 'responsibility and prudence': EU's Rehn

The French budget for 2014 shows "responsiblity and prudence" the EU's Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Thursday as he urged France to press on with reforms. Growth targets for France, which faces soaring public debt levels, are "slightly above ours, but appear plausible," Rehn said at a joint news conference with French Finance Minster Pierre Moscovici. ceb/arp/ccr/rl

EU's Rehn: French pension reform must not add to labor costs

PARIS (Reuters) - France's Socialist government must prove that a reform of its indebted pension system will not add to high labor costs and hurt competitiveness, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn told Le Figaro daily. Rehn said the reform, which is to be presented to cabinet on September 18, was desirable, but expressed doubts about the government's pledge to offset new pension charges for companies at a later date.

EU calls on Greek leaders to live up to responsibilities

The European Union said Thursday it is concerned at the latest political developments in bailed-out Greece and called on its political leaders to act responsibly for the sake of their country and Europe. "I appeal to the sense of responsibility of political leaders in Greece for the sake of Greece and of Europe," EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said, referring to rising tensions after Athens closed down the state broadcaster in order to meet bailout targets for cutting civil service numbers. bur/bmm/bm

EU ready to give France more time for deficit target

The EU's Economic Affairs commissioner Olli Rehn on Friday said it would be "reasonable" to give France two extra years to meet the EU deficit target of 3 percent. Rehn offered France extra time after the European Commission's spring forecasts painted a pessimistic picture of the French economy over the next two years, with its deficit notably rising sharply from 3.9 percent of GDP this year to 4.2 percent next year. ccr/arp
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