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SPD agrees to talks on joining German government, Merkel urges quick action

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BERLIN Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) agreed to open exploratory talks on forming a government with Chancellor Angela Merkel, party leader Martin Schulz said, providing a chance to end a rare period of political deadlock in Europe's largest economy. | Video

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Dollar index firmer as volumes thin ahead of holidays 15 Dec 2017

NEW YORK The U.S. dollar rose on Friday as Republican negotiators in the U.S. Congress put the finishing touches on a sweeping tax overhaul, raising expectations that the bill would be passed by year-end.

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German SPD leader recommends talks on forming government with Merkel - source 15 Dec 2017

BERLIN Germany Social Democrat (SPD) leader Martin Schulz has recommended that his party begin exploratory talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on forming a governing coalition, an SPD source said on Friday.

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Italy's main pilots' union calls off planned strike against Ryanair - source 15 Dec 2017

ROME Italy's main pilots' union, Anpac, called off a planned four-hour strike against Ryanair on Friday after the company said it would recognise the union in a bid to avoid the walkout.

France moves to rein in corporate borrowing binge 15 Dec 2017

PARIS France's financial stability council said on Friday that it planned to set a cap on large banks' exposure to highly indebted companies after big French firms binged on cheap debt in recent years amid record low interest rates.

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Amazon to pay 100 million euros to settle Italy tax dispute 15 Dec 2017

MILAN Italy's tax authority said on Friday it had reached an agreement with e-commerce giant Amazon to settle outstanding tax claims covering the period 2011-2015.

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EU sets bank union, ESM as euro zone overhaul priorities 15 Dec 2017

BRUSSELS European Union leaders on Friday set the completion of a banking union and expansion of the role of the euro zone bailout fund as priorities for euro zone integration, putting off contentious issues such as a budget for the currency area.

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Irish parliament committee backs referendum on abortion up to 12 weeks 15 Dec 2017

DUBLIN An Irish parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended that an abortion referendum due next year should offer the choice of allowing terminations with no restrictions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, a more liberal position than some had anticipated.

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Irish GDP skewed again, but 'real' growth very strong 15 Dec 2017

DUBLIN Statistical distortions catapulted Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP) index to apparent annual growth of 10.5 percent in the third quarter, but underlying data nevertheless showed the real economy performing very strongly.

Holocaust must be bigger part of migrant courses - German minister 15 Dec 2017

BERLIN More emphasis should be placed on the Holocaust in integration courses for migrants, Germany's justice minister said, reflecting heightened unease among leading politicians about a spate of anti-Semitic acts including Israeli flag burnings.

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Security tight as Germany marks anniversary of Christmas market attack

BERLIN Germany has tightened security at Christmas markets across the country a year after a deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market, with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel under fire from victims' relatives for her handling of the case.

French investigators piece together deadly train, bus collision

PARIS Investigators on Friday reconstructed the seconds before a train ploughed into a school bus at a level crossing in southern France and killed at least five children, an incident the prime minister described as "horrific".

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Exclusive - Italy plans big handover of sea rescues to Libya coastguard

ROME/TRIPOLI Italy wants Libya's coastguard to take responsibility within three years for intercepting migrants across about a tenth of the Mediterranean even as Libyan crews struggle to patrol their own coast and are accused of making deadly mistakes at sea.

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