Entries in European Union (25)


EU to Ban Refillable Olive Oil Containers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Fans of good olive oil should be pleased to learn about a new European Union ban on unlabeled, refillable olive oil bottles in restaurants.

The ban is intended to cut down on food fraud, as olive oil is a common target.

Instead of the ubiquitous olive oil containers that could be full of poor quality product masquerading as high quality olive oil, European restaurants may only serve olive oil in tamper-proof packaging, labeled to EU standards.

Top quality olive oil producers like Rosita Decimi of Umbria say the bottle ban will make it tougher for restaurants to pass off rancid-tasting oils for a high quality Italian product.

Though the new ban is intended to protect consumers from fraud, many are upset that the European Union is choosing to make this an issue at a time when they’re facing a serious economic crisis, according to BBC News.

Some restaurant owners are unhappy as well, claiming that their freedom of choice is being taken away.

The ban already exists in Italy and Portugal but will be enforced across Europe next year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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


European Leaders Make New Progress on Debt Crisis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After all-night talks, European leaders appear to have come up with a set of measures that may help ease the debt crisis plaguing the region.

Meeting for the 19th time since the crisis first erupted in 2009, leaders of the 17 nations agreed on Friday to loosen the rules of bailout funds that were supposed to help governments make their debt payments.  Now, the money will be sent directly to struggling banks as well.

The leaders collectively decided to create a supervisory body that will oversee banks in the eurozone. The group will be up and running by the end of this year.

In a victory for Spain and Greece, the leaders also agreed to ease austerity requirements for countries that take bailouts.  Germany made concessions in the short term, but leaders of the 27-nation European Union have agreed on a long-term plan for tighter fiscal rules.  

More centralized supervision of national budgets is something Germany has been pushing for.

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


Alleged Abuse of Former Ukrainian PM Causes Euro 2012 Boycott

STR/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- The Euro 2012 soccer tournament is helping bring to light the controversy surrounding former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s imprisonment on what her supporters say are trumped up charges.

Tymoshenko, 51, was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 for allegedly abusing her power and is currently serving her sentence. The European Union condemned the conviction, calling it “selective justice.”

Tymoshenko claimed she was severely beaten by prison guards, and has been on a hunger strike since April 20 in protest of her alleged mistreatment.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said Friday that there are no grounds for Tymoshenko’s claims.

Pshonka denied Tymoshenko’s request to launch a criminal investigation against those who allegedly mistreated her.

Tymoshenko, who has a herniated disc, refused to be treated by Ukrainian doctors, but agreed to begin medical treatment Tuesday at a hospital near the prison under the supervision of a German doctor.

German and Russian officials have offered to treat Tymoshenko in their respective countries, but Ukrianian law does not allow prisoners to leave the country for medical treatment.

Ukraine is scheduled to co-host the Euro 2012 Championship with Poland beginning in June, but European officials are now talking about boycotting the games Ukraine is hosting.

Austrian and Belgian officials have said they will not attend the games held in Ukraine. Officials in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and other countries are also considering boycotting the month-long event in protest against Tymoshenko’s alleged mistreatment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UN Nuclear Inspectors Visit Iran in Two-Day Tour

IIPA via Getty Image(TEHRAN, Iran) -- United Nations nuclear inspectors began a two-day tour of Iran on Monday.

The visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comes a day after the Iran oil ministry announced a halt in oil exports to Britain and France in response to the European Union’s sanctions on the nation in January.  This will the second visit this year by the inspectors to Iran. A report on the visit is expected in few weeks.

Iran insists they are developing new energy sources, however, IAEA inspectors’ visit in November suggested the country may be moving towards developing nuclear weapons, prompting western countries to impose further sanctions on Iran.

The IAEA chief inspector says his priority in visiting Iran this week is to clarify "possible military dimensions" of the country’s nuclear program, reports BBC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Greek Protests Slow Ahead of EU Meeting

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- The Greeks no longer have the heart to protest after the destruction done on Feb. 12 in central Athens by small groups of anarchists — who even set a beautiful neoclassical 19th century listed building on fire — gave a very bad image of the country.

Under a blazing sun, only one thousand trade unionists from the private and public sectors had come to demonstrate in front of the parliament, meeting under a large banner, which proclaimed in Greek: “Politicians require an effort of national unity: but there is no nation where there are only the hungry and the destitute!”

In the crowd, another banner proclaimed in English, for use by television cameras:” We are all Greeks, Merkel and Sarkozy are freaks!”

This protest comes before a crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers which should grant Greece a bailout of 130 billion euros, in exchange of huge budget restrictions, salaries and pensions cuts promised by the Greek government.

At Syntagma, the city’s main square, right in front of the Parliament building, 20 to 30 young people threw rocks and flares at the riot police, prompting them to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

But the protesters do not represent the entire city, and Athens is not the whole of Greece. Walking through the rural areas of the Peloponnese, we see that the population has resigned itself to the effort required by the Troika (IMF, EU, ECB).

“People here realize that Euro-skepticism is leading nowhere and that the exit of the Eurozone would be a disaster for everyone,” Petros Tatoulis, the elected president of the region, who has renounced any political affiliation, told ABC News. “It is for us now to invent a new model of development and export our fine Mediterranean products under the brand name of the Peloponnese, which should be received around the world as a premium brand.”

A recent poll showed that 73 percent of Greeks were in favor of staying in the Eurozone, although only 49 percent of them felt that the country would succeed to do so in the next two years.

The problem now is what political leadership will enact the austerity measures voted by the Parliament on Sunday, February 12. Elections are indeed scheduled for April. But according to another survey, the two major parties of the current coalition government — PASOK and New Democracy — would collect only a quarter of the votes, with the lion’s share going to the extreme left. But leaders of the latter have been careful not to make any commitments in writing to the Troika.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Halts Oil Shipments to Britain and France

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran halted export of oil to Britain and France in response to sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union.

The oil ministry made the announcement on their website on Sunday. The EU imposed the sanctions against Iran last month to pressure the nation to stop developing a nuclear program. While Iran says they are intending to build new energy sources, EU nations and the United States believe the nation wants to use the program to build nuclear weapons.

Iran's oil exports to EU nations consist of nearly 20 percent of their oil shipments but a spokesperson said on the ministry website that the country can export to new customers.

It is unclear why Britain and France were singled out among the 27 EU countries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


EU Extends Zimbabwe Sanctions, Removes Some Names from List

Hemera/Thinkstock(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- The European Union removed some names off a sanctions list for Zimbabwe, though they extended an arms embargo and freezing aid for a further six months.

The EU Council met in Brussels on Friday where they approved removing 51 names from the list though President Robert Mugabe and key members of his government remain on the list. Since the September 2008 power sharing agreement between the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) and opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the EU lifted some sanctions on the southern African nation.

A travel ban was removed for Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi in order for them to travel to Brussels for negotiations with the council.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold presidential elections in 2012.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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