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Summit of EU leaders postponed over Covid-19 fears

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A scheduled meeting of Europe’s national leaders in Brussels this week has been postponed at the last minute because a close contact of the man due to chair it tested positive for coronavirus.

It comes as Belgium, Spain, France and the Netherlands struggle to contain spiking Covid-19 infections, and governments grapple with how to keep a lid on cases while allowing economic activity to continue.

European Council president Charles Michel went into immediate quarantine after a security officer that he had been in close contact with tested positive for the virus.

“The president is tested regularly and tested negative yesterday,” his spokesman said in a statement. “Respecting Belgian rules, he has gone into quarantine as of today.”

Leaders had been due to discuss an economic rescue package, sanctions on Belarus, relations with Turkey and China, and foundering talks with Britain with just weeks remaining to strike a deal and avoid a UK crash exit on January 1st. It would have been the second such council of EU leaders Micheál Martin has attended as Taoiseach.

The national governments have a backlog of policy decisions to make together and consider physical meetings to be vital for forging agreement, but are said to have been rattled by the positive test of French economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire for Coronavirus last week.

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