Germany and France to take action against Russia for Salisbury poisoning | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 23.03.2018
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Germany and France to take action against Russia for Salisbury poisoning

The EU has recalled its ambassador to Russia in response to a poisoning, but Paris and Berlin want further action. Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel stood side by side as they went on to condemn US tariffs.

Berlin and Paris will take rapid and coordinated measures against Russia in response to the Salisbury poisoning, French President Emmanuel Macron said alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

The pair held a joint press conference following an EU summit in Brussels covering a range of issues, including Russia, EU reforms, US tariffs, Brexit and the French hostage situation.

Read more: Blaming Russia for nerve agent attack, EU to recall ambassador to Moscow

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EU summit: Russia in the spotlight

Response to Russia

Macron said several states including Germany and France would take actions in response to the nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy this month.

"We consider this attack as a serious challenge to our security and European sovereignty so it calls for a coordinated and determined response from the EU and its member states," Macron said.

Merkel said EU member states would debate what measures to take "and then act."

EU members decided at the summit to recall their ambassador to Russia with President of the European Council Donald Tusk saying: "Additional steps are expected as early as Monday at the national level."

Read more: Novichok nerve agents – Russia's dangerous 'new' poison

EU reforms

The two leaders made headway in discussions over Eurozone reforms and will meet in Berlin next week for further talks, Macron said.

Merkel said she expected an agreement on a European asylum system and progress on fundamental reforms in the Eurozone at the EU summit in June. The goal is to give Europe "new impetus," she said.

The June summit will focus on a joint roadmap to strengthen the euro that is being worked on in in April and May.

Read more: How France's Emmanuel Macron wants to reform the EU

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No new tariffs: Steelworkers react to EU exemption

US tariffs

Macron said the EU refuses to discuss trade issues while it has a gun pointed to its heads and that a temporary exception from new US tariffs was not satisfactory.

"The EU must be united and determined ... if we are attacked we will react without weakness," he said.

The EU has a temporary exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs until May 1.

Macron also advised entering into trade agreements with any countries that are not members of the Paris Climate Change Treaty.

Merkel defended Germany's trade surpluses and it was important to avoid a "spiral of trade measures" between the EU and the US.

"We are interested in fair international multilateral trade and will continue to speak out against protectionism."

Read more: Washington issues a 'pause' on steel and aluminum tariffs for EU, says US official 

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Brexit: what has happened so far?

Brexit

Merkel stressed that the EU was unified in its negotiations with the UK as it leaves the bloc.

Now we have to negotiate "a very intensive free trade agreement" with London. "We will not let ourselves be divided here."

Macron warned London it could not carve up the EU's single market.

"The single market cannot be divided up. There is not a choice of which sectors you sign up to. Once you are outside the single market, you're outside of it entirely."

Read more: EU warns of post-Brexit trade 'frictions,' rejects UK ambitions for unique trade deal

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Police at scene of hostage situation

French hostage incident

The two leaders gave their condolences to the victims of Friday's hostage scene in France.

"When it comes to terrorist threats, we are naturally on France's side," Merkel said.

Read more: French police kill perpetrator in supermarket hostage event

aw/kl (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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