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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a hasty exit from a Brussels summit of EU leaders on Thursday after one of her close staffers tested positive for the coronavirus.
"I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive to COVID-19 this morning", she said.
On Thursday, for the first time, they faced a potential threat in the very room where they were meeting, when von der Leyen told them she had been in contact with an infected person.
Ms von der Leyen tested negative, but left the meeting as a precaution to go into self-isolation. "However, as a precaution, I will immediately abandon the European Council and go into isolation", announced the leader of the community executive, on her Twitter account.
According to a press release issued following the first part of the EU summit in Brussels, the European Council "notes with concern that progress on the key issues of interest to the Union is still not sufficient for an agreement to be reached" before the transition period ends on December 31.
Prior to the summit, von der Leyen said the discussions would focus not only on Brexit trade negotiations and other matters, but on Covid-19, because "citizens expect clear and effective answers".
The deadline for talks is at the end of the month, but United Kingdom negotiator Lord Frost said he was "disappointed" by the response from the European Council regarding the post-Brexit trade deal talks. Here, a lot of good work has been done.
"A lot of good work has been done, but two critical issues are still open". "Any agreement on our future relationship would have to be based on our mandate, in particular, when it comes to the level playing field, fisheries and governance", Michel said, adding the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier was fully trusted to continue the negotiation. "It's a question of fairness for our companies and businesses in the European Union". "I will also present to the leaders".
Brussels is now considered Belgium's coronavirus hotspot.