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Latest news from the Council of the European Union.

'Blame Brussels' culture must end: European Ombudsman
Europe's Ombudsman called Thursday for an end to the culture of EU states being able to blame 'Brussels' because of a lack of transparency and accountability of national governments' legislative work.

Brexit heads major challenges for EU's new Romanian presidency
Major challenges of Brexit, the EU's future Budget and the upcoming European elections faced Romania on 1 January 2019 as it took over its first presidency of the European Union.

EU summit clarifies UK 'backstop', but no renegotiation
As PM Theresa May sought to save her Brexit deal at a Brussels summit Thursday, EU leaders clarified their position on the 'backstop' but stated there would be no renegotiation of the UK withdrawal deal.

''No deal' or no Brexit, EU prepared for every scenario
If the UK Parliament were to reject the 'only possible deal' in its upcoming Brexit vote, the EU was prepared for the alternative 'no deal' or no Brexit at all, EU president Donald Tusk told the G20 summit.

'Sad moment' as leaders endorse UK withdrawal agreement
EU leaders endorsed the Brexit withdrawal agreement Sunday as presented by the negotiators of the EU and the UK, declaring this a "sad moment" but saying that the deal was "the only deal possible".

EU continues to strengthen defence capability
The EU Council underlined its desire to enhance its strategic autonomy and capacity to act as security provider Monday, agreeing a number of projects under its PESCO defence cooperation programme.

EU & UK will have "full control" of their own legislation
As the EU reaches a "decisive moment" in the Brexit process, both the EU and the UK will have "full control" of their own legislation and rule-making, according to the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Differences remain on EU digital service tax
EU finance ministers meeting Tuesday have some way to go before they can agree on the digital service tax directive, aimed at addressing the most urgent gaps and loopholes in the taxation of digital activities.

Council clarifies position on EU plastics ban
EU Member States agreed their position Wednesday on a proposal to ban single-use plastics, clarifying the products covered and proposing that producers of plastic items cover the costs of litter clean-up.

EU leaders ready to extend Brexit transition period
EU leaders at a summit in Brussels to review progress on Brexit talks declared their readiness Thursday to consider any British proposal to extend the two-year transition period once the UK leaves the EU.

EU Council agrees on new emissions targets for cars and vans
EU environment ministers reached agreement Wednesday on a proposed regulation to set stricter CO2 emission standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

Ministers make progress on VAT reform and fight against fraud
EU finance ministers agreed Tuesday on new rules to exchange more information and boost cooperation on criminal VAT fraud, as well as measures to cut VAT compliance burdens for companies.

EU finance ministers agree lower VAT for e-publications
Ministers agreed to allow EU states to apply reduced, 'super-reduced' or zero VAT rates to electronic publications Tuesday, thereby allowing alignment of VAT rules for electronic and physical publications.

EU reaches out to Asia with infrastructure plan
The EU Commission and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini adopted a Joint Communication Wednesday setting out a vision for a new and comprehensive strategy to better connect Europe and Asia.

EU leaders reject Britain's 'Chequers plan' for Brexit
EU leaders at a summit Thursday rejected the 'Chequers plan' of UK prime minister Theresa May, saying its framework for economic cooperation would not work, and risked undermining the single market.

EU urges China to play by the rules on trade
China needs to take responsibility for global problems of overcapacity in the steel and aluminium sectors, and conform to stricter rules on state aid, the European Union said at a summit in Beijing Monday.

Trump criticised as NATO strengthens cooperation with EU
"Appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many," EU Council president Tusk told US president Trump Tuesday, as NATO and the EU signed a joint declaration to strengthen military cooperation.

Migration top priority as Austria takes over EU presidency
"A Europe that protects" is the motto of the Austrian presidency of the Council of the EU, which the country took over from Bulgaria on 1 July, putting migration and security issues at the top of its priority list.

EU summit pledges solidarity in deal on migration
The EU summit agreed Friday to strengthen European solidarity in face of the migration crisis, calling for further measures to stem illegal migration and 'disembarkation platforms' for people saved at sea.

EU states confirm 2030 renewable energy target
EU states gave the green light Wednesday to a provisional agreement on the revision of the renewable energy directive, with a headline target of 32% energy from renewable sources at EU level for 2030.

EU finance ministers close deficit procedure against France
EU finance ministers closed the excessive deficit procedure for France Friday, confirming its deficit has dropped below 3% of GDP. They also issued budgetary recommendations to Hungary and Romania.

EU extends sanctions against Russia over Crimea
EU ministers decided to extend sanctions against Russia for another year Monday, as the EU continued to punish Russia for the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sebastopol.

EU budget for external action
For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission is proposing to increase the external action budget to €123 billion, with plans to simplify its structure and make it much more flexible and effective to address today's global challenges.

World leaders at G7 not impressed by Trump
World leaders apart from U.S. president Donald Trump committed at the G7 summit in Canada this weekend to fight protectionism and defend the rules-based international trading system.

Summit reinforces EU links with Western Balkans
A summit between leaders of the Western Balkans and the EU ended Thursday confirming the region's 'European perspective' and a strengthening of cooperation in connectivity, security and the rule of law.