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US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address, he said travel from 26 European countries would be suspended for the next 30 days.

But he said the "strong but necessary" restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed.


Mr Trump said the European Union had "failed to take the same precautions" as the US in fighting the virus.

A Presidential Proclamation, published shortly after Mr Trump's address, specified that the ban applies to anyone who has been in the EU's Schengen border-free area within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US.

N.B. additional reasons given in the US proclamation:

The administration’s European travel proclamation notes that “the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

What has the (official) reaction from the EU been regarding this US action?

  • 5
    It should also be noted that the Schengen area is separate from the EU; Iceland, Norway, Switzerland & Liechtenstein are not EU members but are signatories of the Schengen treaty.
    – CDJB
    Mar 12, 2020 at 17:37
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    Comments deleted. Comments on questions should be used to discuss the phrasing of the question itself, not to debate its subject matter. Form more information on how comments on questions should and should not be used, please review the help article about the commenting privilege on the help center.
    – Philipp
    Mar 12, 2020 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


There have been a number of reactions from the EU so far - some official, others not so much. I've decided, in the world of Twitter diplomacy, to count tweets from ministers and current/former heads of government as official responses for this purpose. Responses are in chronological order, culminating with the joint statement by President von der Leyen and President Michel.

The first response from a current or former head of government came from former Finnish Prime & Foreign minister, Alexander Stubb who tweeted at 5:18 UTC:

Any attempt to contain the #CoronaOutbreak is welcome, but the decision of @realDonaldTrump to exclude the UK from a European travel ban is nothing short of irresponsible. Viruses do not recognise borders. Decisions should be based on facts, not politics.

The European Council President, Charles Michel, then tweeted his initial response at 6:12 UTC, saying that

Following the travel ban @realDonaldTrump announced, we will assess the situation today.

Economic disruption must be avoided.

#Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread of the #COVID19 virus, limit the number of affected people and support research.

Former Prime Minister of Romania & current leader of the Renew party in the European Parliament, Dacian Cioloş, tweeted that

Viruses know no borders or nationalities. Nationalism & blame games are no antidote. This is a global crisis, which requires global solidarity, @realDonaldTrump . Containment measures are needed, but not arbitrary ones. Europe will be your partner, but not your scapegoat. #COVID19

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, British Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the UK had no plan to emulate the US travel ban. (I am aware the UK is no longer an EU member, but I feel this response is still relevant.)

We haven't believed that that's the right thing to do, the evidence here doesn't support that.

What we are trying to do is contain the virus while recognising that it is now likely that it will spread more significantly.

Guy Verhofstadt, former Prime Minister of Belgium, tweeted at 9:51 UTC that:

Nationalism isn't the answer to #COVID19, because viruses don't care about borders or nationalities. We are all in this together. We need a European approach to save lives & bold interventions to protect our economy.

At 10:40 UTC, an official joint statement was released by President Ursula von der Leyen and President Charles Michel:

The Coronavirus 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.

The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.


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