By Agence France-Presse

EU leaders on Thursday gave the finance ministers of the 19-member eurozone single currency bloc two weeks to come up with a strong economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

The call was agreed after what officials said was a difficult video summit at which hard-hit Italy and Spain pushed their reluctant northern partners to do more.

“At this stage, we invite the Eurogroup to present proposals to us within two weeks,” the leaders said, in a statement released after the talks, held at a distance to protect participants from infection.

“These proposals should take into account the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 shock affecting all our countries and our response will be stepped up, as necessary, with further action in an inclusive way, in light of developments, in order to deliver a comprehensive response.”