EU summit: austerity push challenged.
For more than a year, the eurozone as a whole has been in recession and unemployment is now just under 12%.
France and some other countries want more flexibility in the budget targets set by the EU Commission, as austerity has provoked widespread protests.
Highly hit by the debt crisis, France and Spain expect to miss their budget deficit targets this year.
But Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel remains determined to keep Europe focused on budget discipline, to prevent any resurgence of market jitters about eurozone stability.
Cyprus is one of the eurozone countries which are crippled by debts. It seeks to secure an international bailout of up to 17bn euros ($22bn; Au15bn). There is unlikely to be a deal on that at the Brussels summit, as EU finance ministers are still working on the details.
A eurozone summit will follow the main EU summit late on Thursday. Foreign policy issues, including relations with Russia, will be the focus on Friday.
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