The European Union summit in Brussels is the last of Latvia's presidency of the bloc, and headaches that include Ukraine and the Greek debt might leave scant time for the usual focus of final summits, which is EU enlargement.
If the leaders find space on the agenda for reviewing the merits of expanding the bloc, seven countries and Kosovo will be anticipating news about their membership prospects.
The sanctions on Russia were due to expire in July but the deadline has been extended and rests on Moscow's commitment to the Ukraine ceasefire negotiated in February. Russia has denied any military involvement in the Ukraine fighting and calls EU and US sanctions unjustified. The March EU summit underscored the bloc's support for Ukraine, which had urged members to keep up pressure on Russia until it meets all its obligations under the deal reached by the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia in Minsk in February.
The Guardian reports that the Greek government, in its latest attempt to unlock financial aid, has assembled a package of 18 reforms, with a warning that it would stop meeting debt obligations if negotiations fail. The newspaper notes that Athens is resorting to increasingly desperate measures to keep afloat amid dire warnings the debt-stricken country could go bust within weeks.
Seven countries, as well as Kosovo, are waiting in the wings to join the European Union, according to the BBC. Turkey's accession bid is back in play after years of stalling, and Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo are being groomed to join. Kosovo's independence is not recognized by all EU countries, but the EU views it as a potential candidate for membership.
Date written/update: 2015-04-01