EU leaders shift to virtual summit as COVID-19 cases surge

·1 min read

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A European Union summit due to take place on March 25-26 in Brussels will now be held via video conference due to the increase in coronavirus infections across Europe, an EU spokesman said on Sunday.

European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs EU summits, made the decision to move the summit on Thursday and Friday online, citing "the surge of COVID-19 cases in member states", his spokesman Barend Leyts said on Twitter.

A third wave of COVID-19 is increasing daily infections due to highly contagious coronavirus variants that are forcing governments to restrict lives again, with Paris going into a four-week lockdown late last week.

The EU's 27 leaders were due to discuss in person how to speed up vaccinations across the bloc, as well as industrial policy and relations with Turkey and Russia, according to a draft final summit statement seen by Reuters.

Diplomats and officials say virtual meetings limit discussions and decision-making, but that no critical negotiations were expected at the summit.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Catherine Evans)