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EU leaders to hold video summit on virus crisis


European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen (L) speaks during a joint news conference with European Council President Charles Michel after their meeting in Sofia, on March 3, 2020. (Photo by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP)

European Union leaders will hold an emergency videoconference on Tuesday aimed at coordinating their response to the coronavirus outbreak, EU Council President Charles Michel announced.

The emergency meeting comes as Europe has struggled to draw up a unified response to the virus, with smaller countries accusing France and Germany of going it alone by banning exports of some medical supplies.

Michel, who coordinates EU summits, tweeted that he would hold a “conference call shortly” with the bloc’s heads of state or government, which an EU source said would probably be on Tuesday afternoon.


“We need to cooperate in order to protect the health of our citizens,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also announced the meeting, stressing: “To deal with COVID-19, unity is strength.”

“I call on our European partners to act urgently to coordinate health measures, research efforts and our economic response,” he added, on Twitter.

The announcements came as European governments adopt a range of measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus that first emerged in China last December.

Italy — with 366 dead — is the worst-hit country in Europe and has imposed a sweeping lockdown on the most hard-hit northern regions.

With more than 1,100 recorded cases and 19 deaths so far, the French government has banned all public gatherings of more than 1,000 people, and some 300,000 students are being kept at home in areas that have reported the highest numbers of cases.


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