Trump’s Muslim travel ban inspires EU initiative

Demonstrators protest the Muslim travel ban at George Bush airport in Houston. [@coomechron Twitter]

Current and former EU government ministers, academics and editors will propose to EU leaders meeting today (3 February) in Malta that the Union set up a “rule of law” mission to assist EU citizens stranded in US ports and airports, following Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’.

An open letter signed by 24 personalities so far, among which the most prominent are former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and ex-Finnish Premier Alexander Stubb, calls the US president’s executive order on immigration “an assault on Europe’s interests and values”. The signatories are members of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the first pan-European think tank.

The US ban of at least 90 days affects travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, including those with dual nationality that includes one of those countries. Trump said his order, which indefinitely bans refugees from Syria, was “not a Muslim ban”, though he added he would seek to prioritise Christian refugees fleeing the country.

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The open letter calls on EU leaders to launch a rule of law mission to assist EU citizens in American ports and airports.  Many EU citizens with dual citizenship from one of the countries for which the travel ban applies have been preventing from taking their flights to the US in various countries, or are stuck in US ports and airports.

“The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the member states should coordinate efforts in Washington, in order to offer the best consular protection to European citizens possible.  Dual citizens should not be discriminated on the basis of their second passport”, the letter says.

The letter also appeals to EU leaders to get closer in sharing intelligence within the EU in order to enhance protection against terrorist threats. The signatories take the view that Trump’s Muslim travel ban risks setting back co-operation on terrorism while stimulating ISIS’s recruitment.

“It is high time to think about European security, both internally and externally, in a more consolidated and responsible fashion”, the letter says.

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