Political group leaders reacted on Wednesday to President Donald Trump’s recent signing of an executive order banning nationals of seven countries from entering US territory. Most MEPs described the travel restrictions as arbitrary and defying the core values of Western democracies, such as freedom, non-discrimination and solidarity.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherni welcomed the clarification by the US authorities that EU citizens will not be affected by the travel ban, even if they hold the nationality of one of the seven affected countries. But she made it clear that “this does not change our overall assessment of the executive orders. (…) The EU will not turn its back on anyone who has the right to international protection“, she said, adding that “this is where we stand, this is where we will continue to stand.”
“Trump was elected and we want dialogue”, said EPP group leader Manfred Weber (DE). “When Trump says he fights illegal migration or radical Islamism, we agree. But the travel ban is not that. Generalized suspicion of countries and people leads to xenophobia. The US was always a country of liberty and fundamental rights, now Trump condones torture”. By doing so, “a state becomes a criminal itself“, he added.
Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT) said: “The provisions are an attack against European legal culture and fundamental values (…). Let’s be blunt: the travel ban (…) is not against terrorism. This is a lie, a demagogic one, as it hits some countries while it does not hit those with which Trump does business! I call on air companies not to refuse passengers from the countries in the ban. And we should avoid Trump visiting the EU until the ban is in place: doors are locked for him!”
Syed Kamall (ECR, UK) said “this arbitrary ban sends a message that there is an inherent contradiction between being a good Muslim and being a good citizen of a Western democracy. It simply plays in the hands of Daesh and other extremists, who make exactly the same claim […]. However, Americans voted for the candidate, who does what he promised to do. So we must accept that this President, his priorities and policies are the consequence of the growing tide of discontent.”
The fact that no terrorist coming from the banned countries has ever acted on US soil shows, in the view of Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE), that “this is pure discrimination“, a measure meant to fuel populism and nationalism. He added that Europe is also threatened by those forces, and hoped that European leaders, when they gather in Valletta, will stand up to this ”bunch of populists and nationalists who want to destroy us.”
GUE/NGL group leader Gabrielle Zimmer (DE), said “Let’s put our values against Trump’s contempt, let us show, with a migration policy characterised by solidarity, that people looking for protection are not the roots of all evil. (…) What would have become of Europe’s post-war democracies if the refugees from Nazism had not found a safe haven?”
“Who could have thought that the freedoms and the rights that we all assume are natural could evaporate so quickly. This is apparently how liberal democracy dies,” observed Green group leader Ska Keller (DE). She called on the EU to be the “champion of protecting international law, human rights and freedoms – let us make Europe the counter model to Trump.”
Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK), said that in the US, a “genuine elected democrat is doing what he was elected to do“. He described European complaints as „proof of the „EU´s anti-Americanism“ and proposed inviting President Trump to Parliament for an “open dialogue.“
ENF group co-chair Marcel De Graff (NL), called upon European Council President Tusk and the Commission to “follow the example of President Trump, install national border controls. Keep jihadists out. Not just from the 7 countries Trump singled out, but of many more.”