European Union leaders on Thursday rebuked the United States for imposing a unilateral travel ban on arrivals from countries in the Schengen passport-free zone without consulting them.

“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent, and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel said.

“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said in a written statement.

“The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus,” they insisted.

The Schengen zone includes most EU member states along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — but not Britain, Ireland, Croatis, Romania, Bulgaria or Cyprus.

US President Donald Trump said the ban on travellers from the zone would come into effect at midnight Friday, and would not affect US citizens returning from Europe.

Trump briefly caused alarm as he announced that “tremendous amount of trade and cargo” would also be banned, forcing officials to clarify the measures would apply only to humans, not goods.

The World Health Organization describes the novel coronavirus outbreak as a “controllable pandemic” and European countries — working with the EU — are scrambling to coordinate a response.

But the 27 EU members are not all suffering to the same degree and their responses have differed, with some imposing or advising draconian lockdowns and others caution.

Every country in the EU has now recorded at least one coronavirus COVID-19 case and the continent as a whole has had 22,969 cases, most notably Italy with 12,462 cases and 827 fatalities.


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