Tusk Warns Russia to Expect More Expulsions: EU Summit Update
(Bloomberg) -- European Union leaders discussed trade tariffs and Brexit on Friday after a late night as they were kept up waiting for confirmation from U.S. President Donald Trump that the bloc was indeed exempt from the new levies.
May scored a diplomatic win late Thursday as EU colleagues supported the U.K.’s assertion that Russia was to blame for the poisoning of a spy in Salisbury, England. Several EU countries, including the Czech Republic, are considering ousting some Russian diplomats, following the U.K.’s lead. Germany’s Angela Merkel said: “We are united in our language, but if necessary also to react together with further action.”
For the latest developments on trade, see our Live Blog. On everything else that was discussed at the summit, we will be following developments here.
How Many Countries Will Act Monday? What Measures? (3 p.m.)
Tusk: “More than one. Won’t be the whole group. That is all I can say today.”
Juncker: “We are condemning but we need an open channel” to talk to Russia.
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made clear “there is no talks of sanctions.”
Tusk Says Spy Poisoning Is ‘Without Precedent’ (2:54 p.m.)
Juncker described the recall of the EU ambassador to Moscow as an “extraordinary measure,” one the bloc has never taken before.
Tusk agreed. He added that a number of states will be following up with actions -- code for expulsions one suspects. “It’s not the end of our actions.”
He also mentioned that it’s ‘not so easy” to keep 28 nations together on Russia, a hint that in fact some nations had to be convinced to sign up to tougher language.
EU Ambassador to Moscow Recalled, Tusk Says (2:43 p.m.)
By Monday, Tusk said that some EU nations will already be taking their own actions against Russia. Juncker is by his side and will address trade issues with Donald Trump.
Merkel, standing alongside Macron, in a joint news conference said “there was great solidarity with the U.K. on Salisbury attack.”
Macron echoed those sentiments. He’ll returning to a domestic crisis. A gunman who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State took hostages at a supermarket in the town of Trebes in southern France Friday.
Latvia Kicks Off Possible Round of Expulsions (12:44 p.m.)
Latvian Foreign Ministry plans to expel one or more Russian embassy employees that are engaged in intelligence gathering, in solidarity with the U.K., Leta reported, citing ministry spokesman Gints Jegermanis.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven weighed in: “We have been convinced from the very start that we need to show solidarity towards United Kingdom. It is a terrible act, despicable act and to use nerve gas on European soil, we need to show solidarity with U.K. We also need to respond.”
Croatia Will Consider Expelling Russian Officials (11:58 a.m.)
More and more countries are signaling they will consider kicking out Russian diplomats. The latest to join in is Croatia. When asked, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said he’ll consider all options.
“I think that the conclusion is accurate,” he said, referring to the EU backing Britain’s version of events. “What we did was a political signal understanding that the U.K. in such a situation that requires a strong extension of solidarity of the partners.”
More: “There was no doubt about it, there wasn’t a single head of state or government who questioned the authenticity of the analysis of the United Kingdom services and therefore the conclusions were as clear as they are.”
Will you expel officials? “We will consider all the options and then if necessary undertake such measures.”
May Welcomes Support on Russia (11:15 a.m.)
May left mid-morning -- she was meant to leave last night but stayed on to discuss trade this morning. She leaves with a win, as EU leaders toughened up their language on the Russian spy poisoning. Still, some nations this morning said they wouldn’t follow her lead and expel Russian spies, and Bulgaria was asking for more proof.
“I welcome the fact that last night the European Union Council agreed with the U.K. government’s assessment of the attempted murder that took place on the streets of Salisbury: it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for that attack and there was no plausible alternative explanation.”
“The threat from Russia is one that respects no borders and I think it’s clear that Russia is challenging the values that we share as Europeans and it’s right that we are standing together in defense of those values.”
The EU has recalled its ambassador in Russia for consultations.
May also welcomed the fact the Brexit transition and negotiating guidelines were adopted.
Brexit Guidelines on Future Trade Adopted (10:15 a.m.)
EU leaders adopted the guidelines on how the EU will approach the negotiations on the post-Brexit trading relationship.
For a reminder of what they say: EU Shoots Down May’s Brexit Demand for Best Access for Banks
Bulgaria Warns of an Escalation with Russia (9:31 a.m.)
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov says "it’s much harder than during the Cold War. There were some rules back then. Now everyone is so tough that I’m not optimistic.” An escalation is “highly likely.”
“From now on I expect in the next weeks fast escalation of the tension, because many states will start recalling their ambassador,” he said.
He asked for more proof that Russia was behind the poisoning, and reminded May of U.K. claims more than a decade ago that Iraq had chemical weapons before the U.S.-led invasion.
“I asked for more proof for switching from high likelihood to full likelihood. But what’s important is that despite Brexit, the U.K. and EU showed they are one and the same," he said. “They have each other’s support and protection.”
Austria Won’t Expel Diplomats (9:08 a.m)
In a reminder of how divided the EU can be on Russia, Austrian Chancellor Kurz makes clear that Austria won’t be expelling Russian diplomats.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte meanwhile speaks of ”strong solidarity in the room" on the spy poisoning.
Lithuania Sees Steps vs Russia Soon (8:50 a.m.)
President Dalia Grybauskaite tells reporters that countries will take their own measures against Russia soon, after May briefed leaders last night.
“I think discussion was very deep, quite interesting and it’s important we got more detailed information from Prime Minister May,” and it was very good information I mean trustworthy,” she said.
*Leaders will start coming in from 8 a.m. and the meeting starts at 9 a.m.
*The euro zone is also on the agenda
*Final press conference is expected at 1 p.m.
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