Don’t make dialogue impossible, Donald Tusk tells Carles Puigdemont | World news

Donald Tusk, president of the European council, has made a personal appeal to the leader of Catalonia to hold off from announcing independence from Spain or risk making peaceful dialogue impossible.

Addressing regional leaders in Brussels, Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, who fought for his country’s independence from the Soviet Union, said he understood the “emotions and arguments” of both sides, as someone who was from an ethnic minority, had personally been subject to police brutality and had led a major EU state.

Yet Tusk said that should the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, unilaterally announce independence for Catalonia it would be a disaster for the region, Spain and the whole of Europe.

Puidgemont is due to reveal his plans for independence on Tuesday evening in his first address to the regional parliament since the referendum on independence earlier this month that provoked the standoff with the Spanish government.

Tusk said: “I appeal to you not only as the president of the European council, but also as a strong believer in the motto of the EU: ‘United in diversity’, as a member of an ethnic minority and a regionalist, as a man who knows what it feels like to be hit by a police baton.

“And as a former prime minister of a big European country. In brief, as someone who understands and feels the arguments and emotions of all sides.”

He added: “A few days ago, I asked [Spain’s] Prime Minister [Mariano] Rajoy to look for a solution to the problem without the use of force. To look for dialogue. Because the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force.

“Today I ask you [Puidgemont] to respect – in your intentions – the constitutional order and not to announce a decision that would make such a dialogue impossible.

“Diversity should not, and need not, lead to conflict, whose consequences would obviously be bad: for the Catalans, for Spain and for the whole of Europe. Let us always look for what unites us and not for what divides us. This is what will decide the future of our continent.”

The EU has taken a tough line on the referendum, calling it illegal, and defending the Spanish government’s right to uphold the rule of law.

Spain is an important member state to the bloc, but Brussels is also allergic to any suggestion of a fracturing of the current order. Its most senior figures have repeatedly insisted that even if Catalonia’s referendum had been legal it would no longer be a member of the EU as an independent entity.

However, after the scenes of police brutality during the independence vote on 1 October, Brussels tempered its language, while it was criticised for defending a government that appears to have badly mishandled a potentially dangerous situation.

On Tuesday, a European commission spokesman was left once again at risk of accusations that Brussels was failing to show leadership, by calling for dialogue rather than intervening. “We called on all those concerned to get out of this confrontation as quickly as possible and to start dialogue,” the spokesman said. “Violence, as we said, can never be a political tool.”

I am Catalan: ‘Families are broken, people have fallen out’ – video

The spokesman added that Brussels had “confidence in the capacity of Prime Minister Rajoy to manage this delicate process in full respect of the Spanish constitution and the basic fundamental rights of the citizens”.

Earlier the committee of the regions, an assembly of European regional leaders based in Brussels, had heard a passionate attack on both the Spanish government and the EU’s response from a representative of Catalonia, Amadeu Altafaj, who said Spain had acted like an “authoritarian regime”.

The police had brutally treated people “going about their peaceful business” and seeking to vote in the referendum, Altafaj told the committee of regions in Brussels. “This is not an internal matter for Spain,” he said. “This a European issue. Rights have been undermined.”

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Pride is at stake in Poland’s tussle with the EU. It won’t give ground easily | Anna Gromada | Opinion

The EU has given Poland an ultimatum: a one-month deadline to drop plans for judicial reforms, which Brussels says would be a violation of the rule of law, on pain of losing Poland’s vote in the European Council. The EU has never before used this “nuclear option” on a member state and it seems like the kind of legal threat that should surely bring Poland’s ruling conservatives to its senses after weeks of street protests over the measures.

Yet, those who have faith in the value of external pressure on the ruling party chairman, Jarosław Kaczyński, forget what brought him to power.

The day the measure subordinating the Polish courts to political interference was approved by the parliament in Warsaw, Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, who happens to be Poland’s former prime minister – and Kaczyński’s arch-enemy – issued a half-page statement. In it he managed to make six references to Poland’s reputation abroad. The reform, he said, would “ruin the already tarnished public opinion of Polish democracy.” Tusk failed to explain why retaining an independent judiciary might be a good thing, even when nobody’s watching.

Like many postcolonial societies, Poland has a residual sensitivity about what “the west might think about us” – this is especially prevalent within the middle-class electorate that Tusk was presumably speaking to. Yet over the last decade, this embarrassment anxiety has provoked a backlash from the Law and Justice party (PiS), which dubs it a “teaching of shame”. The party came to power in 2015 on the back of pride-boosting slogans such as “Poland will get off its knees” that massively helped expand its traditional electorate, the elderly and rural or small-town dwellers, to include a new group you could call the dignity-driven youth.

And now, PiS is likely to use the Brussels pressure to play the sovereignty card even more than it has previously done, the goal being to show Poles who holds legitimate power. Poland’s justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro, framed his response to the EU decision in the language of pride: “I ask Mr [Frans] Timmermans to cut his insolence and arrogance, when he speaks about Poland and Poles. Poles categorically demand respect.”

Liberals and progressives are making a big mistake in thinking they can shame Law and Justice supporters with warnings about Poland’s diminishing status in the west. In fact, they are blowing the wind in PiS’s sails.

Yet, they are egging on pro-European Polish progressives with these warnings and that is likely to polarise Polish society even further.

That is because most people don’t vote but they may be motivated to by a new conflict between supporters of closer EU integration and Eurosceptics.

Street protest in Poland over judicial reform

‘The EU’s stance seems like the kind of legal threat that should surely bring Poland’s ruling conservatives to its senses after weeks of street protests over the measures.’ Photograph: Cezary Aszkielowicz/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

Poland is not like the UK, where the 2001 election turnout of 59% saw politics textbooks rewritten to include chapters on “the crisis of participation”. Voter turnout in Poland habitually ranges between 40% and 55%. In 2015, Law and Justice was elected by 5.7 million people – 19% of those with the right to vote. Usually, it is not the nominal majority that radical parties need to win, but the majority that stays at home.

Our society consists roughly of three groups: approximately a fifth of regular voters, a fifth of regular non-voters, and three -fifths who vote from time to time. When the latter group finally shows up to the ballots, its members are most likely to vote for the centre. Yet, these three-fifths gets easily offended – and some electoral campaigns are calibrated to disgust them so that they stay at home complaining about low standards of politics. By contrast, the “iron electorate” remains unimpressed.

The threatened EU sanctions are likely to lead to a polarisation of Polish society along the lines seen in the Brexit and Trump campaigns.

On the one hand, Poland is one of the most pro-European countries in the EU. For the past decade, support for the EU has ranged between 70% and 90%, with recent polls showing 88% support. These are not just empty declarations. The single biggest anti-government protest carried the slogan, “We are and will be in Europe”. It gathered 30,000 people (according to the government) or 240,000 (according to the organisers).

Yet, Poles’ affection for the EU is not unconditional. In this, one of the world’s most homogenous societies, 51% say they would rather quit the EU than accept any plan for refugees allocated by the EU. The EU’s threats are likely to lead to a further polarisation of Polish society. Fear is the fuel, it has greater mobilising power than hope or the protection of the status quo. Both sides deploy it: the strongest fear that PiS can mobilise is Muslim refugees, while the strongest fear the opposition can generate is that of having to quit Europe. In other words, the anxiety of cosmopolitans about being cut off from the liberal world versus conservatives’ fear of accepting “the other”. Brace yourself for the next battle over our globalised world.

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Donald Tusk warns of ‘bleak outcome’ from Polish judiciary reform | World news

Poland’s rightwing government has been accused of dragging the country back in time by Donald Tusk, president of the European council, as its ministers moved a step closer to taking control of the judiciary.

Reform bill atom

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said the ruling Law and Justice party was reversing decades of progress through its authoritarian agenda.

On Thursday MPs in Poland’s lower chamber voted to approve a highly contentious law giving control of the nation’s supreme court to the president instead of judges, sparking new protests in Warsaw.

The move came just 24 hours after the first vice president of the European commission, Frans Timmermans, warned that such was the threat to the independence of the country’s judges from a series of proposed laws, the EU was “very close” to triggering article 7 – a mechanism, as yet unused, that could ultimately lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the council of ministers.

Following a telephone conversation with the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, on Thursday, Tusk issued a public statement calling for an urgent meeting to discuss “the dangerous consequences for Poland’s standing on the world stage”.

He said: “It falls to us, together, to avert bleak outcomes which could ultimately lead to the marginalisation of Poland in Europe. It is my belief that its most recent actions go against European values and standards, and risk damaging our reputation.

“They transport us – in the political sense – in time and in space, backwards and eastwards. The president most certainly thinks otherwise. But not even the deepest differences can absolve us from our duty to work together for the good and safety of our mother country.”

Protesters embrace

Protesters embrace while demonstrating in front of the lower house of the Polish parliament. Photograph: Bartłomiej Zborowski/EPA

Parliamentary debate on bill

Parliament debating the controversial supreme court reform bill. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk/EPA

He added: “Bringing judges under the control of the governing party in the manner proposed by the Law and Justice party ruins an already tarnished public opinion of Polish democracy.

“We must therefore find a solution which is acceptable to the Polish public, to the parliamentary majority and to the opposition, to the president and to the European Union. I know that is no easy feat. It will require concessions, mutual respect and a little trust. It is not easy, but it can be done. But we do not have much time.”

Aides to Duda said the president, who is aligned to the ruling party, had rejected Tusk’s offer.

The new law passed through the lower chamber gives the nation’s president the power to influence the court’s work and to appoint its judges. It calls for the dismissal of the court’s current judges, except for those chosen by the president.

Thursday’s vote was 235-192 with 23 abstentions after a parliamentary commission summarily rejected 1,300 opposition amendments to it.

The legislation still needs to win approval from the senate, which is expected to be granted at a session Friday, and by Duda, who has so far followed the ruling party line.

Protesters were on Thursday kicking the metal barriers that separated them from the parliament and chanting “shame”. Some carried banners urging Duda to veto the bill.

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Donald Trump y Vladimir Putin aplacan el Rusiagate y se acercan a Siria | Internacional Home Tags

El presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, y su homlogo estadounidense, Donald Trump, durante su encuentro bilateral.

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El G20 intenta sobrevivir al huracán proteccionista de Trump | Mercados

Hamburgo fue protagonista de la liga Hanseática, una de las primeras victorias del mercantilismo sin fronteras contra las demarcaciones políticas y territoriales. Y también fue testigo del hundimiento de esa red de más de 200 ciudades y puertos en la Europa germánica a raíz de la guerra de los 30 años.

Tres siglos y medio después, Hamburgo acoge (este viernes y sábado) la cumbre de algunas de las mayores economías del planeta (el llamado G20) con la dramática sensación de asistir al final de una etapa histórica en el comercio mundial.

La canciller alemana, Angela Merkel, anfitriona y presidenta del encuentro, admitía el viernes que la batalla entre la defensa de la globalización por parte de Europa y el proteccionismo impulsado por EE UU será de tal magnitud que los expertos de ambas partes deberán negociar durante toda la noche para llegar el sábado, con suerte, a un punto de consenso suficientemente aguado e inocuo como para recibir el apoyo unánime.

Casi todo el planeta

Los miembros del G20 suponen el 80% del PIB mundial y el 75% del comercio global. Faltan países ricos como Suiza y emergentes como Nigeria, y están presentes economías más pequeñas como Sudáfrica.

El G20, del que España forma parte como invitado permanente, se encuentra tan dividido que ni siquiera se pone de acuerdo sobre temas que se daban por descontados. En el aire está la lucha contra el cambio climático (abandonada por EE UU) o asuntos aparentemente poco controvertidos como la persecución de las organizaciones que se lucran con el transporte de inmigrantes ilegales a Europa.

“Hoy es muy dífícil ser optimista”


“Hoy, es muy difícil ser optimista”, reconocía este viernes el presidente del Consejo Europeo, Donald Tusk en Hamburgo, poco antes de la primera reunión del G20, tras constatar la resistencia de varios países a secundar las sanciones contra los “pasadores” de emigrantes.

Con el consenso internacional hecho trizas, el estreno en el foro de Donald Trump puede ser el huracán que arrase los restos del G20, la respuesta global a la crisis financiera de 2008 que el nuevo presidente de EE UU quiere desmontar.

Bruselas teme que tras el G20, Trump decrete un castigo arancelario a las importaciones de acero que golpearía a China y Alemania. El presidente de la Comisión Europea, Jean-Claude Juncker, advirtió en Hamburgo que si Trump cumple su amenaza “la UE responderá de manera inmediata”. El riesgo de una guerra comercial parece evidente y el futuro del G20 estaría en entredicho.

“Si el G20 no existiera, habría que crearlo”


“Si el G20 no existiera hoy, habría que crearlo”, clama en Hamburgo un manifiesto de Business20 (B20), plataforma empresarial impulsada por las patronales alemanes. Los empresarios recuerdan que desde el arranque de la última oleada globalizadora en 1990, el comercio mundial se ha multiplicado por cinco y la renta per cápita mundial se ha multiplicado por 2,5.

Pero Trump interpreta que esa globalización ha ido en detrimento de la clase media de su país y llega a Hamburgo dispuesto a poner fin a un orden comercial al que achaca un déficit en la cuenta corriente del país de 300.000 millones de euros.

Alemania, que desde el nacimiento del euro en 1999 ha pasado de un déficit en cuenta corriente de 37.000 millones a un superávit de 261.000 millones en 2016, defenderá el libre mercado con un énfasis hanseático. El choque entre ambas visiones parece tan inevitable como hace 300 años.

La única duda estriba en saber quien saldrá escaldado del “infierno” en que los manifestantes antiglobalización dicen haber convertido Hamburgo, la ciudad natal de Merkel. La primera víctima fue Melania Trump, esposa del presidente de EE UU que no pudo salir de su residencia en la ciudad a causa de los disturbios.

Primer encuentro Trump-Putin

La cumbre del G20 facilitó viernes para el primer encuentro entre el presidente de EE UU, Donald Trump, y su homólogo de Rusia, Vladimir Putin. La cita, marcada por las sospechas sobre la posible injerencia rusa en las elecciones que llevaron a Trump a la Casa Blanca, duró dos horas y 15 minutos, cuatro veces el tiempo previsto. Y sirvió, oficialmente, para retomar una posible tregua en la guerra de Siria.

España, optimista

El gobierno español, que acude al G20 en calidad de invitado permanente, se mostró optimista en Hamburgo miniizó el riesgo de una guerra comercial entre la UE y EE UU.

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Trump y Merkel libran la gran batalla entre libre comercio y proteccionismo | Mercados

La canciller alemana, Angela Merkel, y el presidente de EE UU, Donald Trump, librarán este viernes y sábado en Hamburgo la primera gran batalla dentro del G-20 entre los defensores del libre comercio y los partidarios de recuperar ciertas barreras proteccionistas.

“Se equivoca tristemente quien crea que los problemas del planeta se pueden resolver con aislacionismo y proteccionismo”, señaló este jueves Merkel ante el Parlamento alemán.

La canciller alemana hizo un canto al multilateralismo y defendió la vigencia del G-20 “ahora más que nunca” y del Acuerdo de País sobre el cambio climático “que tras la retirada de EE UU, estamos más decididos que nunca a convertirlo en un éxito”.

Trump, en cambio, inició el miércoles su segunda gira europea (hasta el sábado) decidido a exigir medidas drásticas contra los países que cometan dumping exportador, sospecha que recae sobre Alemania y China. Y amenaza con desencadenar una guerra comercial si en la cumbre de Hamburgo no se logra poner coto a las exportaciones siderúrgicas de China.

Tras la primera gira europea (en mayo) Trump volvió a Washington y anunció la retirada del Acuerdo de París. Ahora podría introducir aranceles que penalizarían no solo a las exportaciones de acero chino sino también a las europeas. Bruselas ya ha advertido que, en ese caso, también adoptará medidas contra EE UU, lo que podría provocar una escalada de aranceles y trabas al comercio transatlántico.

Europa busca aliados internacionales para frenar a Trump y evitar una deriva proteccionista que, según algunos analistas, podría suponer el principio del fin del G-20. Y esa estrategia ha llevado este jueves a la UE a anunciar un principio de acuerdo con Japón sobre un acuerdo de libre comercio que esperan entre en vigor en 2019.

“El mundo no tiene necesidad de volver atrás 100 años”


“Algunos dicen que vuelven el aislacionismo y la desintegración, pero estamos demostrando que no es así, que el mundo no tiene necesidad de volver 100 años atrás”, celebró el presidente del Consejo Europeo, Donald Tusk, tras una cumbre en Bruselas con el primer ministro japonés, Shinzo Abe. Bruselas confía en que este acuerdo y el suscrito con Canadá a principios de año sirva de munición a Merkel para la batalla de Hamburgo.

La canciller juega en casa, porque la cumbre anual de las principales economías del planeta se celebra bajo su presidencia y en su ciudad natal.

Pero el presidente estadounidense lanzó el jueves el primer golpe contra la retaguardia de Merkel, con una cumbre en Varsovia para alentar la revuelta de los países de Europa del Este contra una Unión Europea dominada por Berlín.

La presencia de Trump reconfortó al Gobierno polaco, amenazado por Bruselas con la suspensión de derecho de voto en la UE si continúa con su presunta deriva autoritaria. Y reforzó las quejas de Polonia y el resto de países de la zona contra la política energética de Merkel, basada en una creciente dependencia de Rusia.

“Si necesitan energía, no tienen más que llamarnos”


Si alguno de ustedes necesita energía, no tiene más que llamarnos”, ofreció Trump a los líderes de los 11 socios de la UE presentes en Varsovia para una reunión de la llamada Iniciativa de los Tres mares [Adriático, Báltico y Negro].

“EE UU nunca usará su energía para presionar a sus naciones y no podemos permitir que otros lo hagan”, prometió Trump a unos países que han sufrido más de un invierno el cierre de los gasoductos desde Moscú.

Esos socios han intentado frenar, sin éxito, el proyecto impulsado por Berlín y Moscú para doblar el gasoducto del Báltico (Nordstream 2) que suministrará energía directamente a Alemania, lo que interpretan como una vía para aislarles energéticamente. Trump les ha dejado claro en su visita que “EE UU no dejará que ningún país sea rehén de una manipulación del mercado energético”, según detalló la Casa Blanca.

A principios de este mes, Polonia ya recibió los primeros suministros de gas licuado procedentes de EE UU. Y Trump ha recordado en Varsovia que Croacia está construyendo una regasificadora flotante, que podría entrar en servicio en 2019, para incrementar la llegada de suministro estadounidense.

Frente a esa ofensiva, las defensas de Berlín y Bruselas parecen enclenques. Por un lado, la unidad del club europeo corre peligro si la oferta de Trump de seguridad y energía seduce, como parece probable, a los países del Este.

Y por otro lado, los lazos comerciales con Canadá y Japón, aunque importantes, no son contrapeso suficiente para la relación transatlántica. El comercio en bienes de la UE con Canadá es solo de 71.000 millones de euros, la décima parte que con EE UU. Y con Japón de 134.000 millones, la quinta parte.

Acuerdo con Tokio favorable a España

  • La UE y Japón alcanzaron ayer en Bruselas un principio de acuerdo sobre un futuro Tratado que en un plazo de 10 años desde su entrada en vigor liberalizará el 99% del comercio bilateral entre las dos partes.

  • Bruselas y Tokio han acelerado la negociación con el objetivo de presentar el acuerdo antes de la cumbre del G20 en Hamburgo y enviar así una señal a favor del libre comercio frente a la ofensiva proteccionista de Donald Trump.

  • Las prisas han obligado a reducir la ambición del acuerdo, que deja fuera la parte de inversión por la negativa de Japón a renunciar a los sistemas de arbitraje extrajudicial Bruselas no se atreve a incluirlos por temor a una reacción en contra de la opinión pública como en el TTIP (el acuerdo que se negociaba con EE UU). Japón ha aceptado, en cambio, un período transitorio de siete años para la liberalización total del mercado europeo de automóviles.

  • La Comisión Europea confía en que el acuerdo permita aumentar en 20.000 millones de euros el valor de las exportaciones europeas a Japón, que en bienes y servicios rondan los 80.000 millones al año.

  • El acuerdo supondrá un ahorro en aranceles de hasta 1.000 millones de euros al año, especialmente en sectores favorables a España como cerdo, vinos, o zapatos.

  • Bruselas espera que el Tratado se pueda firmar en 2018 y que entre en vigor en 2019.

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Europa hablar con una sola voz en la cumbre del G20 | Internacional Home Tags

De izqda. a dcha.: el primer ministro italiano, Paolo Gentiloni; el presidente espaol, Mariano Rajoy; el presidente francs, Emmanuel Macron y la canciller alemana, Angela Merkel.

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Donald Tusk echoes John Lennon to suggest UK could stay in EU | Politics

Donald Tusk used the first EU summit since the general election and the start of the Brexit negotiations to suggest that there is a chance the UK could still remain a member of the union, as leaders called on Theresa May to provide clarity on her minority government’s intentions.

Tusk, the president of the European council quoted the lyrics of John Lennon’s Imagine in expressing his hope that Britain could change its mind given recent events. “We can hear different predictions, coming from different people, about the possible outcome of these negotiations: hard Brexit, soft Brexit or no deal,” Tusk said, of what he described as a difficult process.

“Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU.

“I told them that in fact the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows? You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”

Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland – who as a student was active in the fight against the communist regime in his country, said: “Politics without dreams: it would be a nightmare. If you had my experience from my part of Europe you would know miracles do happen. Some of my political dreams have come true. And this is maybe the best part of politics that everything is possible but I am at the same time a realist.

“That is why first of all we should start the negotiations as effectively as possible. The final decision is also a decision for Britain, UK citizens. But, yes, dreams are still very nice.”

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said he was hopeful that the UK would seek a soft Brexit. “It is crucially important we know what Britain wants from Brexit,” he said. “I hope we’ll come to some form of continued membership or relationship with internal markets.

“I absolutely believe the UK will be hit in the economy and the pound very hard. It will have a huge economic impact. I hope they can stay connected to the customs union which means accepting the four freedoms and the court in Luxembourg. I’m hopeful, but it all depends on what Theresa May and her team decide.”

Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “The door remains open for the UK to stay in the European Union.”

A No 10 spokesman said in response: “Britain voted to leave the EU on 23 June last year and, as we have been clear all along, we will be delivering the democratic will of the British people.”

Macron, Merkel and May

Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Theresa May at the European Union leaders’ summit. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Leaders struck a different note when asked if European cooperation would be easier if the UK remained in the EU.

“I am not a dreamer and I am not the only one,” Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel said, in a deliberate echo of Tusk’s words. “I consider that we have to respect the choice of the UK and we will see how it is possible to keep smart cooperation on the different issues, on development, on trade but also on security.”

There were signs of irritation at Britain’s apparent intention to use meetings of EU leaders to progress their Brexit goals, however. In response to Downing Street’s decision to provide an overview of its offer on EU citizens over dinner at the summit, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “I’m not negotiating here.”

Tusk added: “It must be clear that the European council is not a forum for the Brexit negotiations, We have our negotiations for this. And so leaders will only take note of this intention.”

Beyond the discussion on Brexit during the first day of a two-day summit, the leaders also agreed on measures regarding counter-terrorism and defence. Tusk said the leaders were now calling on social media companies to do “whatever is necessary to prevent the spread of terrorist material on the internet”.

Brexit atom

He said: “In practice, this means developing new tools to detect and remove such materials automatically. And, if need be, we are also ready to adopt relevant legislation.”

The leaders also agreed on the need to set up permanent European cooperation on defence, a concept first raised in 1954 but opposed by a number of member states, including the UK.

Initially the member states would cooperate, with the help of EU cash, on defence research and procurement. Tusk said: “It is a historic step, because such cooperation will allow the EU to move towards deeper integration in defence. Our aim is for it to be ambitious and inclusive, so every EU country is invited to join. Within three months, member states will agree a common list of criteria and commitments, together with concrete capability projects, in order to take this cooperation off the ground.”

The EU also agreed to extend its economic sanctions against Russia over its failure to live up to the Minsk peace agreement after reports to leaders from Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

Russian-backed fighters are accused of attacking Ukrainian forces and expanding the territory under their control.

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