Madrid / Correspondent in Brussels
Spain renounces for the moment to act with the same criteria as the great powers of the European Union and decided ayer do not cancel flights with the UK despite the detection of the new strain of coronavirus. The Government announced late in the afternoon that it will reinforce the control of PCR tests for travelers from the country but will not close the borders for now.
The Government of Pedro Sánchez had requested this Sunday the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to give “A community response” to prevent flights from the UK. It did so after Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy decided to anticipate and cut their air connections with the United Kingdom. During the afternoon, high-level meetings were held at the request of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. But in the time that elapsed between the request of Spain and that common position that did not arrive, other countries were armored and also closed their borders with Berlin.
Germany urges answers
Shortly thereafter, the EU Council’s Integrated Political Response to Crisis (IPCR) mechanism was convened by the German presidency to try to coordinate a response to the emergency situation posed by the emergence of this variant of the virus.
Although traditionally on these dates all work schedules in the EU have already been deactivated and the presidency of the day had already been formally dismissed, Sebastián Fischer, German spokesman, yesterday published a message on social networks in which he announced: “The presidency Germany has invited EU member states to an urgent meeting of the IPCR crisis mechanism tomorrow morning at 11.00 am ”, with the emergency that arose in the United Kingdom as the only issue. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is infected with coronavirus and isolated, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the President of the Commission and the President of the European Council spoke by phone yesterday to assess the situation.
Spain will defend at this meeting “the need to adopt coordinated measures on flights from the United Kingdom.” The Government will maintain its position that any decision in this regard must be common and avoid unilateralism, government sources report.
The request to forge a joint strategy, according to La Moncloa, came after hearing the announcement of several countries to suspend their flights with the United Kingdom, starting with Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany, Austria or France. That the latter decided to cancel trips to London implies the suspension of traffic through the Eurotunnel, which was ordered last night. Trains to Brussels and Amsterdam had previously been canceled.
Also, last night it was decided too the closure of the Dover ferry terminal, in southeastern England. “Both trucks and client passengers are asked not to travel to the port. We understand that the restrictions will remain in effect for 48 hours from this midnight, “said the port of Dover in a statement. However, trucks from France to the United Kingdom will be allowed to enter, but it is not ruled out that some drivers do not want to cross for fear of not being able to leave British territory afterwards, according to local media.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) asked Europeans to “strengthen their controls” for the new variant of the coronavirus circulating in the United Kingdom, waiting to be able to collect more information about the mutation and transmit it to them. According to the WHO, some cases have already been identified outside of Great Britain, nine in Denmark, one in the Netherlands and one in Italy (which the Health Minister confirmed yesterday).
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