‘Every man for himself!’ How coronavirus pandemic has exposed bloc’s contradictions

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announceed on Monday only EU residents, family members and essential staff – healthcare workers and medical experts – would be exempt from the stringent measures, initially imposed for a 30-day period. Prior to her announcement, many of the 26 countries which are signatories to Schengen, including 21 of the 22 members of the EU itself, have closed their borders, in clear breaches of the agreement. One UK-based expert in EU law told Express.co.uk: “The EU isn’t able to deal with systemic events – COVID-19 is something it is ill-equipped to do and is being handled back at member state level.

“It’s every man for himself behaviour that’s going on.

“You aren’t seeing US states behave in this way in relation to each other.

“It’s being handled at Federal level. What we’re seeing is how little real integration has been truly achieved within the EU.

“They’re wanting the currency and trading benefits of a level of integration that just hasn’t happened.”

Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, added: “It shows clearly that those seeking to create a new supranational state have not solidified the project enough for major crisis and run the risk now of individual nations not seeing any substantive benefits from membership.

“Any cooperative of this kind needs to demonstrate value add and it’s now make or break time for this 60-year-old project as to whether or not it can deliver in 2020s – which I sincerely believe it can’t, but time will tell.

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“The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will play a key role in helping our continent off her knees after virus has passed.

“We need a sensible person to run it and the contest for new Head coming up shortly.

“We need someone who is very pro-English as its head.

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“What better person than Tad Koscinski, Polish Finance Minister, the Polish nominee, who was born and raised in Clapham, London, and has a home there still and is a very strong Anglophile who loves England.”

Speaking on Monday, Ms von der Leyen said: “We need to do more to reduce huge pressure on our healthcare system.

“We know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the spread of the virus. The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.”

Ms von der Leyen confirmed UK citizens are exempt from the measures as Britain is still in the Brexit transition period.

She said: “UK citizens are European citizens – there are no restrictions for UK citizens to travel to the continent.”

She also urged the four EU states on the continent which (like the UK) are not signatories to Schengen to implement the restrictions as well, adding: “These measures are effective only when they are coordinated.”

France’s President Emmanuel Macron confirmed the move had the blessing on national leaders in a televised address earlier this week.

France has imposed a 15-day lockdown, with all public gatherings and social contact banned, and citizens told to work from home wherever possible.

Mr Macron said: “Never before in history has France had to take such exceptional measures in a time of peace

“You will no longer be able to see your loved ones or continue your daily routine.”

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