Brexit, Turkey and taxing tech giants tackled at EU summit
BRUSSELS (AP) — Brexit is Europe’s big worry, but it wasn’t the only problem the leaders of the 28 — on the way to becoming 27 — European Union nations grappled with during their latest summit.
Here’s a look at some of the topics the leaders tackled at meetings that ended Friday:
British Prime Minister Theresa May came to Brussels trying to reinvigorate her country’s divorce talks with the EU. May’s fellow leader’s said she’s made progress, but they still want more “meat” — especially about how much Britain expects to pay to leave the bloc. They also appeared to resist May’s push for speedier talks on post-Brexit trade. Their refrain: “Unity” in the face of a fractured Britain.
TAXING INTERNET GIANTS
France came to the summit blazing to force internet giants to pay more taxes. But resistance from EU countries that serve as tax shelters for tech companies like Apple dampened the idea. The EU leaders agreed to push for “an effective and fair taxation system fit for the digital era,” but said it should be an international system, not just European. That’s sure to slow and weaken movement toward France’s goal.
The rocky relationship between Turkey and the European Union hit another milestone. EU leaders revealed they are studying whether and how to cut pre-membership funds pledged to Turkey. EU leaders are angry over alleged human rights abuses in Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hostile rhetoric about Europe. The EU earmarked 4.5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) for Turkey in 2014-2020.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made it to the two-day summit even as his government prepared to revoke some or all of the areas in which the Catalonia region enjoys autonomy. Rajoy expects to announce details of the unprecedented move he is making while Catalan leaders threaten to break the region away from Spain. The EU firmly refused to intervene in the standoff. While Rajoy won unconditional support from France’s president, leaders of other countries stayed largely mum on the subject — perhaps hoping the separatist spirit in Catalonia doesn’t spread to other independence-minded regions.
COUNTERING TRUMP ON IRAN
The 28 EU leaders reached unusually easy unanimity on the Iran nuclear agreement: They embraced the deal in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s denunciations of it. That’s in part because the nuclear accord allowed renewed trade with Iran — a longtime European trading partner — in exchange the country curbing its nuclear activities. The EU also fears growing global tensions and argues that abandoning the Iran deal now could torpedo efforts to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions.