Thursday 15 October 2020 3:43 pm

Covid: EU chief Ursula von der Leyen forced to self-isolate

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been forced to leave a crunch EU leaders’ meeting to self-isolate, after a member of her front office tested positive for Covid.

Von der Leyen said she had tested negative today, however would still self-isolate as a precautionary measure.

Read more: Today: Boris Johnson to meet EU chief in crunch trade deal meeting

It comes as the European Council began the key summit today, with Brexit trade deal negotiations among the most important issues to be discussed.

The two-day EU leaders’ summit is being held in Brussels, but with a long list of social distancing requirements in place.

“I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive to COVID-19 this morning,” von der Leyen tweeted.

“I myself have tested negative. However as a precaution I am immediately leaving the European Council to go into self-isolation.”

Boris Johnson is watching to see how the summit progresses before he makes a decision on whether to walk away from trade negotiations.

Both sides have set the end of this month as a final deadline for an agreement to get done, however Johnson has said he wants to see an “outline” of a deal weeks before that point.

The UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union on 31 December, with or without a deal.

The largest barrier to an agreement is EU access to UK fishing waters.

Johnson spoke to von der Leyen about negotiations last night.

Read more: Brexit: Macron and Merkel clash over hopes for UK trade deal

A Downing street statement sent after the conversation said: “The Prime Minister noted the desirability of a deal, but expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks. 

“The Prime Minister said that he looked forward to hearing the outcome of the European Council and would reflect before setting out the UK’s next steps in the light of his statement of 7 September.”