By politics.co.uk staff
Fears are growing that today's emergency EU summit will not achieve agreement on the way out of the ongoing eurozone crisis in Brussels.
Prime minister David Cameron has already cancelled a planned trip to Japan and New Zealand to attend today's summit, but expectations were being played down as tortured talks got underway.
The 17 eurozone countries are seeking to reach agreement on a bailout package which would avert the debt crisis spiralling out of control. Many believe Spain and Italy could follow Greece into an economic meltdown.
At stake is a draft deal boosting the European Financial Stability Fund, a separate bid to recapitalise European banks and a move to force private investors to accept huge write-offs of up to 60% of their loans to Greece.
It is far from clear whether any of these will be achieved by the end of the day, leading to speculation that a further summit at the weekend could be necessary to secure a deal.
German chancellor Angela Merkel may be forced to rely on opposition support in a crunch vote in the German parliament later.
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly agreed to step down next year and bring forward elections in return for a deal on pensions, according to a report by La Repubblica newspaper.
Britain will play a tentative role on the fringes of the summit, after Mr Cameron was told to "shut up" and stop criticising from the sidelines during Sunday's meeting of leaders in Brussels.