Leaders in the European Union have agreed to close the bloc’s external borders to most non-EU citizens for 30 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus. As well as shutting external borders, EU leaders have agreed to set up fast-track lanes at countries’ internal frontiers to keep goods flowing across the continent. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said it would be up to European nations to enforce the closures.
The European Union will close its borders to all non-essential travel as it attempts to contain the ongoing spread of the coronavirus on the continent. “The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday following a video conference between G7 leaders. She appeared confident that the European Council would sign off on the restriction in a Tuesday vote.
The European Union assembly voted on Tuesday to scrap as of 2021 the decades-old practice of capitalizing on natural daylight by putting clocks forward by 60 minutes between late March and late October. Under the legislation approved by the 28-nation Parliament in Strasbourg, France, governments that want to be permanently on summertime would adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in March 2021.
Following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, EU leaders agreed Wednesday to keep the deal going and maintain their reviving economic cooperation with Tehran. EU Council President Donald Tusk sharply criticized Trump at the meeting. French energy company Total warned they may exit Iran, casting doubt on continuing the nuclear deal.
Emmanuel Macron has called for a new European agency to fight against international cyber-attacks and the manipulation of election campaigns, as well as a ban on foreign powers funding European parties, as he set out plans to overhaul the EU in response to Britain’s vote to leave. Macron’s move comes weeks before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, and months before European parliament elections in which nationalist parties are expected to increase their share of the vote. He said it was urgent to address the failings exposed by the Brexit vote.
The European Commission added Saudi Arabia, Panama and four U.S. territories to a blacklist of nations it considers a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering, the EU executive said on Wednesday. The move is part of a crackdown on money laundering after several scandals at EU banks, but it has been criticized by several EU countries, including Britain, that are worried about their economic relations with the listed states, notably Saudi Arabia. The United States has also disapproved.
EU talks to decide who should take on the bloc’s top jobs have broken down. Theresa May attended the talks in Brussels which continued until the early hours of the morning. A new summit will now be held on 30 June. The three lead candidates (called Spitzenkandidaten) to succeed Jean Claude-Juncker as the next European Commission president failed to receive enough support from the leaders of the EU’s member states.
The big centre-right and centre-left blocs in the European Parliament have lost their combined majority amid an increase in support for liberals, the Greens and nationalists. Pro-EU parties are still expected to be in a majority but the traditional blocs will need to seek new alliances. Although populist and far-right parties gained ground in some countries, they fell short of the very significant gains some had predicted. Based on current estimates, the previously dominant conservative EPP and Socialists and Democrats blocs will be unable to form a “grand coalition” in the EU parliament without support.
Lufthansa canceled 800 flights in response to a walkout by public sector workers, affecting 90,000 passengers as the discontent among Europe’s workers spreads to Germany. The strike by the German labor union Ver.di is planned for Tuesday at Frankfurt airport. The union is fighting for a 6% raise for 2.3 million public service workers.
Voting began Thursday in what could be the most important European Parliament elections in a generation. All 28 European Union nations are choosing who should sit in the 751 seats of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which approves the bloc’s budget and passes laws. The process is the second-largest democratic exercise in the world, behind the Indian general election. Member nations have their own separate elections to choose their national parliaments and local politicians, but the E.U. Parliament votes on the bloc’s $150 billion annual budget and passes legislation that affects some 500 million people.