Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

Merkel leads EU revolt on Trump's Muslim ban

  • Merkel reminded US leader of Geneva rules (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

Several European leaders have rejected US president Donald Trump's anti-Muslim travel ban amid concern over his commitment to transatlantic values.

The ban, on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saw European capitals scramble to determine how it would effect their dual nationality citizens.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Trump spoke with Putin about Ukraine on Saturday (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

In a sign of increasingly strained relations with the new US administration, German chancellor Angela Merkel told Trump that his war on terrorism was not a fit reason to renege on the 1951 Geneva Convention, which requires signatories to help people fleeing from conflict.

Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said she spoke with Trump by phone for 45 minutes on Saturday.

"She is convinced that even the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion," Seibert said.

German-US relations under Trump already got off to a rough start when he earlier called Merkel's more open refugee policy a "catastrophic mistake".

The German and Dutch foreign ministers also issued a joint statement on Sunday saying they were in contact with US authorities to find out what the executive order meant for their citizens.

"We are determined to protect the rights of our citizens and will take rapid action within the European Union about the steps that are now needed," Germany's Sigmar Gabriel and his Dutch counterpart, Bert Koenders, said.

UK prime minister Theresa May's spokesperson on Sunday said that the PM did "not agree" with Trump's order and would stand up to Trump if it negatively affected British citizens.

May was criticised over the weekend for her docile approach to Trump after she told press in Turkey that the ban was an internal matter for the US administration.

British foreign minister Boris Johnson, who on Sunday said it was "divisive and wrong to stigmatise [people] because of [their] nationality", was also seeking clarification from US officials what the executive order meant for UK citizens.

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Denmark and Finland likewise condemned Trump’s blanket ban.

'Pillars of Europe'

Other leaders expressed concern over the US president’s undermining of transatlantic values.

Italy's prime minister Paolo Gentilioni said on Sunday in a Twitter post, without mentioning Trump directly, that: "Italy is anchored in its values. Open society, pluralism, no discrimination. They are the pillars of Europe."

Italy is one of the main point of entry for migrants and refugees into Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

France's president Francois Hollande said on Saturday that "when he [Trump] adopts protectionist measures, which could destabilise economies not just in Europe but the economies of the main countries of the world, we have to respond".

“When he refuses the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we have to respond," he said.

"The talk we hear coming from the US encourages populism and even extremism," Hollande added.

European Parliament liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt tweeted: "Trump's #MuslimBan goes against the West's values and human rights. We must not be complacent."

Euroscpetics welcomed the move, however.

Nigel Farage, a British MEP who spearheaded the Brexit campaign, said Trump was fully entitled to order the ban which was designed to fight the jihadist group Isis.

"Trump must not take advice on how to deal with terrorism from France and Germany," Farage tweeted on Sunday.

The Dutch Freedom Party's leader, Geert Wilders, congratulated Trump on the move, tweeting: "Well done @POTUS [Trump] it's the only way to stay safe + free. I would do the same. Hope you'll add more Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia soon."

Russia

Trump has caused astonishment in Europe by predicting that other states will follow the UK out of the EU and by saying that Nato was “obsolete”.

He has also indicated that he might give Russia a free hand in Ukraine in return for cooperation on nuclear disarmament and counter-terrorism.

Britain’s May, who met Trump in Washington on Friday, said US and EU sanctions on Russia should stay in place until it stopped waging war in line with a ceasefire pact signed in Minsk.

“We believe the sanctions should continue until we see that Minsk agreement full implemented and we’ve been continuing to argue that inside the European Union,” she said.

She also said Trump had voiced his “unshakeable commitment” to Nato and that he was “100 percent behind” the military alliance.

Trump spoke with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

Their talks “touched upon the main aspects of the Ukrainian crisis” and Trump “stressed the importance of rebuilding mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two counties’ business communities”, a Kremlin statement said.

Trump pledges US-first foreign policy

Economic protectionism and war on Islamist terrorism will form the heart of US foreign policy, Trump has said. He did not rubbish Nato, but indicated interest in a new Russia alliance.

News in Brief

  1. European Banking Authority will move to Paris
  2. EU court threatens daily fine over Polish forest logging
  3. EU medicines agency will move to Milan or Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan in next round of EMA vote
  5. Three countries pull out of medicines agency Brexit race
  6. Schulz calls for new German elections
  7. EU Commission 'confident' on German stability
  8. EU adopts new border check rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  2. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  3. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  4. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  5. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  7. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  8. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  9. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  12. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  2. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Step Up Water Management Cooperation
  4. CECEMachinery Industry Calls for Joint EU Approach to Develop Digital Construction Sector
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMale Business Leaders Gather in Copenhagen to Advance Gender Equality
  6. EnelNo ETS Deal Means It Can Still Be Strengthened
  7. EU2017EEEstonia Anticipates More Digital Cooperation With Sweden
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Launches Campaign to Protect IPR of Foreign Companies
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Condemns Attacks on Ruta Vanagaite and the Shredding of Her Books in Lithuania
  10. Bio-Based IndustriesDiscover the Future of the Bio-Based Economy. Register Now for the BBI Stakeholder Forum!
  11. European Free AllianceWelcome Catalonia!
  12. UNICEFGrowing Number of Unaccompanied Refugee Children in Greece in Need of Shelter