Charles Michel delays summit to 1-2 October after going into quarantine

European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday (7 October) said that it is "time for the UK to put its cards on the table" over a post-Brexit trade deal following a call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

European Council President Charles Michel postponed a summit of European Union leaders on Thursday and Friday (24-25 October) until the start of October after going into coronavirus quarantine due to contact with an infected security guard, his spokesman said.

Michel, who chairs EU summits, tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday, his spokesman said via Twitter, but was following the rules in Belgium, the seat of EU institutions where the summits of EU leaders take place, by going into isolation.

“The president today learned that a security officer, with whom he was in close contact early last week, tested positive for COVID,” Michel’s spokesman said. “The president is tested regularly and tested negative yesterday. Respecting Belgian rules, he has gone into quarantine as of today.”

The postponement is a blow to Greece and Cyprus, who must now wait until 1-2 October for EU leaders to discuss how to respond to rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over energy resources there.

A potential deal on Turkey over a summit dinner that was due for Thursday in Brussels was also billed as the venue to find approval for economic sanctions on Belarus in support of pro-democracy protests there.

Michel, a former Belgian prime minister and an ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, spent much of the past week in shuttle diplomacy over the Turkey issue, including trips to Cyprus, the Greek island of Lesbos and Athens.

The infected security officer was based in Brussels, an EU source said.

The Brief, powered by ESA – Always look on the bright side of EUCO

The EU needs to be more courageous in its diplomacy, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in her first State of the Union speech a couple of days ago. Some said her lengthy speech was bold. Others complained that there was too much wishful thinking. Others remarked that foreign affairs are not exactly her remit.

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