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"Highly likely" Russia behind UK attack: EU summit

"Highly likely" Russia behind UK attack: EU summit

Mogherini - May - Macron - Photo © European Union 2018

(BRUSSELS) - At a summit in Brussels, EU leaders condemned Russia Thursday for the recent nerve agent attack in Britain, agreeing to coordinate their response "in the light of the answers provided by the Russian authorities".

The summit strongly condemned the Salisbury attack and the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances. Leaders expressed its deepest sympathies to all whose lives had been threatened, lent its support to the ongoing investigation, and stressed its unqualified solidarity with the UK.

In the Council conclusions, the text reads: "The European Council agrees with the United Kingdom government's assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation."

The summit called for strengthening the EU's resilience to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related risks, including through closer cooperation between the European Union and its member states as well as NATO. The EU and its member states should reinforce their capabilities to address hybrid threats.

On Turkey, the spring European Council strongly condemned Turkey's "continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea".

Leaders called on Turkey to put an end to these actions and to respect Cyprus' sovereign rights to explore and exploit its natural resources, in line with EU and international law. They also recalled Turkey's obligation to respect international law and good neighbourly relations, and normalize relations with all EU member states including the Republic of Cyprus.

The Council also expressed its grave concern over the continued detention of EU citizens in Turkey. It called for the swift and positive resolution of these issues.

On taxation, the debate focused on how to adapt taxations systems taking into account the growing digital economy, what more can be done to fight tax evasion and avoidance, and how best to ensure synergies at the EU and international level.

EU leaders highlighted the need to guarantee transparent practices and full protection of citizens' privacy and personal data in the context of social networks and digital platforms. "The EU and national legislation must be respected and enforced," they stressed in the conclusions.

On the issue of trade, the summit reaffirmed its commitment to an open and rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core. Free trade supports millions of jobs across the world, contributing to growth and prosperity.

On climate change, the European Council invited the Commission to present by the first quarter of 2019 a draft strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction in accordance with the Paris Agreement, taking into account national plans.

On the second day of the summit, EU leaders are expected to adopt conclusions on trade in the context of relations with the US. They will also discuss Brexit (in an EU 27 format) and eurozone (Euro Summit format).

European Council conclusions, 22 March 2018


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