European Council March 22-23

Salisbury nerve agent attack, Facebook privacy breach and Brexit among issues discussed

The Salisbury nerve agent attack on a former spy, Facebook’s privacy breach, and the Brexit were among the issues discussed during the European Council held between March 22 and 23.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk said that the European Council condemned, in the strongest possible terms.

“The Council agrees with the British government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation. We stand in unqualified solidarity with the United Kingdom in the face of this grave challenge to our shared security,” Mr Tusk said.

He said that the EU will up its resilience to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related risks, including through closer cooperation between the EU and its Member States as well as NATO.

On Facebook’s data breach, being referred to as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said it was clear to all the leaders that citizens’ privacy and personal data must be fully protected.

“We take this issue very seriously. The EU and national legislation must be respected and enforced,” he added.

He also referred to the EU-Western Balkans Summit to be held in Sofia on May 17, which is expected to focus on reaffirming the European perspective of the region, launching concrete and visible initiatives to improve the physical and human connectivity within the region and with the EU, and addressing how to better engage together on shared challenges such as security and migration. He confirmed that enlargement will be addressed by the Council in June.

The European Council also adopted conclusions on jobs, growth and competitiveness, as well as other items such as the Paris Agreement and Digital Europe.

Brexit

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that common sense prevailed in terms of discussions in relation to Brexit, despite the fact that both the EU and the UK are seeking their own interests.

Speaking in Brussels, where he attended the European Council summit, Dr Muscat said that any agreement with the UK must be concluded with full respect to European legislation.

He also noted that no progress was registered in relation to the issue of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland borders.

Meanwhile, the European Council (Art. 50) adopted guidelines on the framework for post-Brexit relations with the UK.

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