Brussels crisis: EU states revolt against von der Leyen’s demands with border shutdown

A furious row has erupted inside the European Union following a lack of coordination in the bloc’s response to the coronavirus. Several member-states have taken the extraordinary decision to shut down their borders despite calls from Europea Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen to avoid “blanket bans”. Earlier today, Spain joined Italy today by imposing a nationwide lockdown in the country.

This afternoon, the Spanish government announced it will put the country under lockdown as part of its state of emergency measures meant to combat the coronavirus.

The government will order all Spaniards to stay home except to buy food or drugs, go to the hospital, go to work or other emergencies.

On Friday, the WHO said Europe was now the “epicentre” of the coronavirus infection with almost 30,000 cases, more than China at the peak of the outbreak.

The European Commission finally responded to the crisis yesterday when they launched the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.

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The Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen urged the EU to stick together, saying: “The European Union can withstand this shock.

“But each member state needs to live up to its full responsibility and the EU as a whole needs to be determined, coordinated and united.

“Certain controls may be justified, but general travel bans are not seen as being the most effective by the World Health Organization.

“Moreover, they have a strong social and economic impact, they disrupt people’s lives and business across the borders.”

Despite this demand from Brussels to avoid blanket travel bans, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic have all moved to shut their borders in response to the threat. 

This threatens to erupt in a revolt between EU member-states and the leadership in Brussels over the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The bans appear as a defiance of Mrs von der Leyen, who has called for calm among the EU27.

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Denmark’s centre-left prime minister Mette Frederiksen said her country was in “unknown territory” and would close its borders to almost all foreigners on Saturday for at least a month.

She also revealed that the army will be deployed to patrol the frontier. 

Poland’s premier Mateusz Morawiecki similarly announced a ban on foreigners entering the state starting on Sunday. 

Andrej Babis, prime minister of the Czech Republic, said his country would all but close its borders from Monday, barring all foreigners from entry. 

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