Entries in EU (7)


European Union Boosts Sanctions on Iran

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The financial noose keeps tightening around Iran's neck.

Already suffering economically because of severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the West over the refusal to abandon its rogue nuclear program, Tehran will also have to deal with even stricter penalties agreed upon by the European Union Monday.

European foreign ministers said that along with the current oil embargo and freezing of Iranian assets in oversea banks, the EU would initiate further curbs on trade with Iran and on its finance, energy and transport industries.

What the EU hopes to do is close any remaining loopholes in the existing sanctions.

British Foreign Minister William Hague said, "We will continue to do all we can to increase the peaceful pressure on Iran to change course and to return to talks ready to reach a negotiated solution by addressing the world’s concerns."

Iran has repeatedly walked away from talks with six nations about freezing its uranium enrichment process, a key step to developing nuclear weapons.  Tehran insists its atomic power is for peaceful purposes, a claim doubted by the West.

Israel says Tehran is close to creating a nuclear bomb and has made its intent known about a preemptive military strike to take out Iran's facilities.  However, Israeli leadership has admitted the tough sanctions appear to be crippling Iran's economy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to European Union

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) -- This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the European Union.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the winner on Friday, saying in a statement, "The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."


While the committee noted that the EU is currently facing "grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest," it said it wanted to focus on these achievements, which it considers as the union's "most important result."

"The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace," the committee said.

"The work of the EU represents 'fraternity between nations,' and amounts to a form of the 'peace congresses' to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will," it added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Admin Blasts EU Law Charging Domestic Airlines Extra Fees

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is not happy about a new policy by the European Union that would charge U.S. airline carriers every time planes land or leave the continent.

The law by the E.U. is intended to reduce green-house gas emissions.  While the Obama administration supports decreasing pollution on a global scale, the White House says the plan goes too far.

Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood argued the case of domestic carriers, which say the fees could amount to $3 billion annually by the year 2020.

Without mincing words, LaHood told lawmakers, "We think this is a lousy policy.  A lousy law that they passed."

LaHood said the administration would be proactive in getting the E.U. to change its mind about the policy because it ought to take into account how the law might adversely affect other countries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Take Your Daughter to Work Day' for Italian EU Parliament Member

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(STRASBOURG) -- Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli brought her 18-month-old daughter Victoria to work at the European Parliament in Strasbourg Wednesday.

According to The Mirror, Little Victoria enthusiastically wore a headset, played with Ronzulli’s BlackBerry and even raised her hand to vote alongside Mom, who is a member of the Environment, Health and Food Safety Commission.

This wasn’t the first time the working mom proved she could do it all. Little Victoria accompanied her mom to work when she was only six weeks old back in September 2010.

But she wasn’t quite as enthusiastic then as she was Wednesday, sleeping through the entire session while mom was hard at work.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sanctions Push Iranian Currency to Record Lows

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Iran’s currency, the rial, has lost 71 percent of its value against the dollar since September, a fact that a senior Treasury Department official said Monday was a direct result of U.S. and international sanctions on Tehran. Monday, the rial dropped 10 percent to reach record lows after the European Union imposed sanctions.

The EU Monday banned oil imports from Iran, and the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iran’s third-largest bank, the last of five state-owned banks to be sanctioned, and one of Iran’s final lifelines to the international monetary system.

Iran has reacted to the increased pressure with heightened belligerence in the Strait of Hormuz as well as a renewed willingness to engage in nuclear talks.

The Treasury Department official said Monday that Iran had taken some drastic steps to counter the effect of sanctions, including blocking text messages that contain the words “euro” or “dollar.” Sales of Western currencies were banned and plain clothes police roam currency exchange booths searching for violators, the Treasury official said.

According to a senior European diplomat, the EU’s oil ban, combined with decisions by Japan and South Korea to cut back oil purchases from Iran, will have a disastrous effect on Iran’s economy. Together they account for a significant percentage of Iran’s foreign oil sales. Countries like Russia, China and India represent the balance, but not enough to make up for the loss of revenue.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made clear in their joint statement this morning the aim is clear: to starve Iran’s nuclear program of its major source of funding but cutting off oil revenues.

Given that the United States has yet to even begin implementing tough new sanctions on oil deals through Iran’s Central Bank, the senior Treasury official Monday predicted that Iran’s economic woes were only going to get worse in the near future.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


European Union Implements Ban on Iranian Oil; IAEA to Visit Iran

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- In response to growing concerns over Iran's nuclear program, the European Union announced on Monday that it is banning new imports of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products.

Existing contracts on imports, the EU said in a statement, will be allowed to run until July 1.

The latest sanction adds to a string of restrictions already imposed on Iran by the West. The U.S. and its allies began to take action against Iran after a study by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in November found that the country has exceeded fears on just how far its come along with its nuclear ambitions.

Along with the oil embargo, the EU said it, "froze the assets of the Iranian central bank," outlawed the "export of key equipment and technology" to Iran, and forbade, "trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Iranian public bodies and the central bank."

The EU implemented these new sanctions in an effort to, "target the sources of finance" for Iran's nuclear program.

On another note, the IAEA announced on Monday that a team of its experts will visit Iran from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eurozone Strikes Greek Bailout Deal

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- The eurozone leaders and the IMF on Thursday agreed on a second bailout worth $155 billion, debt restructuring and an expansion of the European bailout fund. Banks and other private investors will contribute an additional $53 billion to the rescue package.

According to analysts, this deal makes it likely that Greece will become the first Western-developed world country to default in more than 60 years, as all three main rating agencies are expected to determine that Greece has defaulted because bondholders will suffer losses.

The deal, which was struck at an emergency summit in Brussels Thursday, will also lighten the load for Ireland.  It will allow for a two-percent reduction in the Irish Republic's interest payment, according to BBC News.  Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny says the reduction could save Ireland 600-800 million euros a year.

Though the bailout deal will include non-government lenders Greece, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said private sector involvement would be excluded regarding Ireland and Portugal, BBC News reports.  Both countries are also receiving European aid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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