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The European Union is poised to launch legal action in what is its first formal challenge of Donald Trump’s controversial plan to slash the inflow of skilled workers by two-thirds.
Mr Trump proposed on March 6 to temporarily stop immigration from regions where it is deemed a security threat. That plan was challenged by dozens of countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Estonia, but is unlikely to be approved by US courts, since it would be an extreme measure designed to protect domestic industry.
“The current US president’s actions constitute discrimination against nationals of US universities,” said the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.
“Any proposed EU measure relating to trade, foreign workers or national security, that aims to undermine US global interests should not be undertaken in conjunction with an action of the president of the highest administrative authority of the United States.”
The move will increase tension between the EU and the US, which have the world’s third largest economies. It follows a series of meetings between senior officials of the EU and the White House, and a series of bilateral meetings between the two sides in Brussels.
It will also raise fears in Brussels that EU officials will become more confrontational with the White House under Mr Trump, when they may now seek to block Mr Trump’s proposed immigration ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries — which is currently under suspension.
“I don’t think that Europe is going to back away from the United States any time soon,” said a senior EU diplomat. “I don’t think that it’s a good idea for Europe to be in the vanguard of such an action…I think it’s a bit too much of a shock.”
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