The European Union disagrees with the travel restrictions introduced last week by the U.S. President’s Executive Order and will remain open to all those with the right to international protection, High Representative Federica Mogherini told the European Parliament today.
“As a good friend of the United States, I believe Europe has a duty to be clear – respectful and clear - whenever a disagreement arises, especially when it relates to our fundamental values,” the High Representative said. “And we certainly disagree with the Executive Order issued by the President of the United States on 27 January, as many in the U.S. seem to disagree too.”
The Executive Order introduces a temporary suspension, for a period of 90 days, of the entry into the U.S. of foreign nationals from seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. It also foresees a temporary suspension, for a period of 120 days, of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
While the U.S. has clarified that EU citizens are not affected by the ban, even if they are dual citizens of one of the seven countries, the EU remains still disagrees with the order, Mogherini said.
“I have always looked – and I still look - at the United States with great respect and admiration, as a land where everyone can succeed, whatever their social, ethnic or cultural background. A land of opportunities, a land of hope and dreams. A country that always has been great, exactly because it has always been open and has always been a champion of freedoms.
“I have already made clear in the last days where the European Union stands on this. No one – no one - can be deprived of his or her own rights because of their place of birth, their religion, or their ethnicity,” the High Representative told the Brussels Plenary session of the Parliament.
“This is written in our constitutions – both in Europe and in America. This is who we are, this is our identity, this is something we cannot forget. Our European history has told us to celebrate when a wall is torn down and a bridge is built. We learnt from our own great - but also tragic - history that every human being is first and foremost a person with fundamental rights that cannot be put into question,” she added.
“Many of those affected are fleeing from terrorist groups such as Da'esh; they are victims of terrorism … And most of all, they have a future to build, also for the sake of their own countries and our own security, because the social reconstruction of their countries depends on them.”
The EU will continue to offer protection to such people, because not to do so “would not be moral, it would not be just, it would not be legal and it would not be in our interest. Because this kind of measure has the potential to increase tensions and mistrust among people, among peoples, and nations”, Mogherini stressed.
“Only respect and cooperation can make us more secure. Only respect and cooperation can help us manage the many crises around the world. This is the European way. We work together with the countries experiencing a crisis and with their neighbours. All of them. A travel ban can maybe, maybe, give a temporary illusion of addressing the issue – but it can only create more frustration, and anger. We need cooperation, not closures. We need to engage. We need to build common ground, not to ban.”
The EU is the biggest donor in the world to the Syrian people and the neighbouring countries, with more than €9 billion invested since the start of the fighting in Syria. It has worked closely with the U.S., including at the UN Summit on refugees in New York to protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, and to counter hate speech against refugees and migrants.
“The EU is always ready to engage with the new US administration to follow up on these commitments, as well as on many other achievements we managed in these last years to build together and that are today key fundamental elements of our European Union's policy: from climate change to the Iran deal; from the Middle East Peace Process to our support to the UN system and a free and fair trade system,” Mogherini concluded.