Tuesday 25 July 2017

EU's leaders struggle to agree on Russia sanctions

UK Prime Minister Theresa May greets Enda Kenny as Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite looks on as they pose for a family photo at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. Photo: Reuters
UK Prime Minister Theresa May greets Enda Kenny as Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite looks on as they pose for a family photo at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels. Photo: Reuters

Sarah Collins

EU leaders are still struggling to push through a beleaguered trade deal with Canada and forge a consensus on Russia sanctions.

At a summit in Brussels yesterday, they also held a first round of talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said it was in both the EU's and UK's interest to work together, particularly on Russia.

"The UK is leaving the EU but we will continue to play a full role until we leave, and we'll be a strong and dependable partner after we've left," Ms May said yesterday.

At the start of the summit, Ms May was said to have expressed unhappiness about a September meeting of the EU's 27 other leaders in Bratislava.

While there, leaders agreed on a timetable for migration, security and economic measures, and sources said that while Ms May recognised their right to meet without her, she said decisions that affected all 28 EU members should be made when all 28 were present.

European Council president Donald Tusk described the group as a "nest of doves" rather than "a lion's den".

But French President François Hollande struck a less conciliatory note.

"Madame Theresa May wants a hard Brexit? She'll get hard negotiations," he said.

But the issue that was to keep leaders talking late into the night was Russia's role in the bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

EU foreign ministers said this week the offensive by the Syrian regime and its allies, notably Russia, may amount to war crimes. But they held off on imposing sanctions.

"Yes there should. There are two sanctions there already and there'll be quite a deal of focus on this," Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, when asked whether there should be sanctions on Russia.

EU leaders will today turn to a free trade deal with Canada that was agreed two years ago but which has been bogged down in legal wrangling.

Irish Independent

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