News World Europe mulls shutting external borders in fight against coronavirus

Europe mulls shutting external borders in fight against coronavirus

Europe proposed shutting its external borders to foreigners for 30 days on Monday in a bid to turn the page on its scramble to contain the coronavirus, but it drew criticism for doing too little, too late.

With the official death toll in Italy now above 1,800 and the number of cases growing rapidly around the continent, the crisis has exposed divisions in the 27-member European Union.

Some countries have introduced border controls inside what is normally Europe’s Schengen zone of open borders, while others have refused to share medical data or equipment.

Calls for unity from Brussels have so far seemed to fall on deaf ears. Images from crossings in Europe show vehicles in long lines waiting to cross what would normally be invisible borders.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore … I propose to the heads of state and government to introduce temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU,” said the head of the EU’s executive, Ursula von der Leyen.

“These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, but can be prolonged as necessary.”

Leaders of EU member states will discuss the proposals during a videoconference on Tuesday. Diplomatic sources said the they were championed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has pushed for co-ordinated European action.

“WINDOW-DRESSING”

The plan would cover 30 countries: all EU member states excluding Ireland, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, which are part of the Schengen zone even though they are not part of the European Union.

Britain, which left the EU in January, and Ireland would have to decide independently whether to fall in line by sealing their borders. But their nationals would retain the right to travel to Europe in the meantime, according to EU officials.

From Portugal in the west to Hungary in the east, European countries have unilaterally tightened frontier controls, triggering a warning earlier on Monday from Brussels that chaotic measures risk hurting food and medicine supplies, and aggravating the crisis.

The proposals on shutting Europe’s external borders to foreigners, which include a raft of exemptions, were viewed by some as an effort by Brussels to appear in control.

“We do know the threat is already inside, the threat is not coming from the outside anymore. So it’s more about political messaging,” an EU official said, requesting anonymity.

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform think-tank, agreed. He described the proposals as “window-dressing … to cover up the embarrassment of member-states closing their borders to each other.”

“I don’t see the potential benefits,” he said.

(Reuters)

Pictured: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel attend a news conference after the G7 call, in Brussels, Belgium, March 16, 2020. Reuters/Johanna Geron

Top Stories

Access to Troodos controlled by Police

The Police announced that on the basis of the Health Ministry decrees aiming to contain the outbreak of the pandemic, tomorrow Sunday, access to...

129 new cases, four deaths announced on Saturday

The Health Ministry announced the death of four persons due to COVID-19. This raises the death toll from the virus in Cyprus to 183,...

Crowding at Troodos; lots of fines by police

Lots of traffic was today seen at Troodos. In order to maintain order but also to monitor that people respected the measures aiming to...

Where to get antigen rapid tests on Sunday 24 January

The Health Ministry announced the following antigen rapid test sites for Sunday, 24 January 2021:   LIMASSOL Parking place Lidl supermarket, Limassol 08:30-16:30 Glafkos Clerides Park, Germasoyia 08:30-16:30 Municipal...

Larry King dies at 87

Larry King dies at 87. Photo taken at his concert at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida on January 25, 2012. (Reuters)

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...