Of the proposed measure, which does not affect British or Irish nationals, Ursula von der Leyen said: “The less travel, the more we can contain the coronavirus.” The Commission chief said she was proposing a “temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the European Union“. She added: “These travel restrictions should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged as necessary.”
Commenting on the announcement, Sky News Europe correspondent Adam Parsons said: “This is a response from a Commission that is increasingly worried.
“Europe is fragmenting in its response to coronavirus.
“Von der Leyen has previously said countries must not act in an individualistic way and she watched almost aghast as borders were put up.
“Every EU nation seemed to be doing things in a slightly different way.
“What she wanted was a unified response, something which says, ‘this is the EU, this is how we tackle coronavirus’ and she’s got nothing like that.
“So now out has come the sledgehammer which says, ‘We, the EU, are going to act in concert by effectively keeping out non-EU citizens.
“I should think this is at the moment a proposal.”
The proposed ban on travel to the EU would have exemptions for long-term residents, family members of EU nationals and diplomats.
EU leaders will discuss the proposal on a videoconference on Tuesday.
So far the EU has found it hard to come up with a coherent answer to the health emergency and some countries have imposed unilateral border controls.
Another EU official added: “We do know the threat is already inside, the threat is not coming from the outside anymore. So it’s more about political messaging.”
Earlier in the day, the Commission warned EU countries not to impair food and medicine supply lines as they impose border restrictions in the drive to curb the spread of virus.
Published at Mon, 16 Mar 2020 15:42:00 +0000