EU slams Trump’s unilateral travel ban

The European Union has slammed the new anti-virus travel ban announced by US President Donald Trump, lashing out at the “unilateral” decision. In a joint statement, EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen insisted that the coronavirus pandemic is a “global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.”

“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to improve a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said.

Given Italy’s nationwide travel lockdown and other measures taken by all the bloc’s 27 members, Von der Leyen and Michel dismissed Trump’s suggestion that the EU has not done enough in fighting the disease.

They say the EU “is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”

The European Union says it will assess President Donald Trump’s decision to restrict travel from Europe to the United States amid deep concern over the move’s economic impact, with markets already heavily hit by the new virus.

“We will assess the situation today. Economic disruption must be avoided,” European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU presidents and prime ministers, said in a tweet Thursday.

Michel underlined that “Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread” of the virus.

Trump said all European travel would be cut off, but Homeland Security officials later clarified that the new restrictions apply only to most foreign nationals who have been in Europe’s passport-free travel zone at any point within 14 days prior to their arrival to the United States.

The so-called “Schengen” area comprises 26 countries including EU members France, Italy, German, Greece, Austria and Belgium, where the EU has its headquarters, but also others like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

Trump said the monthlong restriction on travel would begin late Friday. He accused Europe of not acting quickly enough to address the “foreign virus” and claimed that US clusters were “seeded” by European travelers.

The US Army has decided to reduce the number of troops taking part in massive war games that have been planned across Europe over the next six months due to the new coronavirus. The Defender-Europe 2020 exercises were set to involve some 20,000 American personnel, the biggest deployment of US troops to Europe in the last 25 years. But US Army Europe said in a statement that “in light of the current coronavirus outbreak, we will modify the exercise by reducing the number of US participants.” No details on numbers were provided.

In all, around 37,000 soldiers from 18 countries, not all of whom are members of the NATO military alliance, had been expected to take part. Some troops and equipment have already deployed.

“The health protection of our force, and that of our Allies and partners, is a top concern,” the statement said.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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