Trump’s ‚Wildly Stupid‘ Policy: Transatlantic Ties Hit by Travel Ban

Written by | Monday, March 16th, 2020

There was anger and confusion across Europe about President Trump’s travel ban as observers question efficacy of order which excludes some infection-hit countries, most notably the United Kingdom. Travel to the US from most of Europe has been suspended for 30 days since Friday (13 March), the US president announced, citing a need to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The ban applies to the 26-country Schengen Area, but not to those countries outside of this border-free zone, including the UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus, all of whom are, however, also affected by the coronavirus. Trump’s latest move came amid rising global panic after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic, warning that the spread and severity of the illness was due to “alarming” levels of inaction.
Some experts contacted by EUBulletin, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed that President Trump’s ‚unilatral‘ decision to impose the ban only on the Schengen Area countries is a purely political move that reflects the high degree to which he is hostile to the very concept of internal border-free travel. Another expert suggested that Trump’s decision to keep the UK and Ireland off the travel ban list are his personal business interests in both countries where „his company has golf courses struggling financially“ – Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Scotland as well as one in Doonbeg, Ireland. Yet another expert contacted by EUBulletin suggested – half-jokingly – that President Trump, who is known for having very poor knowledge of geography, may have designed his travel ban by „mixing up the Schengen Area with the southern Chinese province of Shenzhen.“
Paul Krugman and Christine Lagarde, among others, ridiculed Trump’s coronavirus response on Thursday (12 March). “This is stupid beyond even my wildest fantasies,” Krugman, a Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist, tweeted after Trump announced restrictions on travel from Europe to the US, adding that “THE VIRUS IS ALREADY HERE.” On the other side of the Atlantic, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the respective presidents of the European Commission and European Council slammed Trump’s decision in a joint statement, saying that „the European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to improve a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.” They also stressed that this „is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.“ Meanwhile, the EU warned that healthcare systems across the continent are at “high” risk of being overwhelmed by coronavirus as the death toll in Italy surged past 1,000 and financial markets suffered their worst losses on record with stocks diving and oil slumping.

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