Italy To Spend 25 Billion Euro In Fight Against Coronavirus

Medical personnel work in the pre-triage medical tent located in front of the Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy, on March 4, 2020. PHOTO: MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

 

Italy on Wednesday vowed to spend up to 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion) to fight a new coronavirus epidemic that has killed 631 people and put hospitals and the economy under severe strain.

Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said “half of these resources” would be used immediately and the other half stowed away and tapped should the health crisis spiral out of control.

The new plan must still be approved by the leaders of European Union under the bloc’s strict budget deficit rules for its 27 member states.

Officials in Brussels had been ready to let Italy spend more than it was technically allowed when its request stood at 7.5 billion euros last week.

Part of the money is supposed to help restaurants and hotels now suffering the brunt of an implosion in the number of tourists who visit Italy’s art-filled churches and achingly beautiful hills.

“We are preparing rules to protect companies, workers and families,” Labour Minister Nunzia Catalfo said.

A nun walks across Piazza del Duomo by the cathedral in downtown Milan on March 10, 2020. Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people on March 10, 2020 to control the deadly coronavirus, as China signalled major progress in its own battle against the global epidemic. Miguel MEDINA AFP
A nun walks across Piazza del Duomo by the cathedral in downtown Milan on March 10, 2020. – Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people on March 10, 2020 to control the deadly coronavirus, as China signalled major progress in its own battle against the global epidemic. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

 

The government also put more meat on the bones of an emerging plan to let families temporarily suspend some mortgage and social tax payments.

Gualtieri said “partial state guarantees” were being discussed to help Italy’s creaking banks survive a resulting cash crunch.

Total shutdown

Italy has witnessed more than half of all the deaths recorded outside China since the epidemic first started spreading from the Asian giant’s central Wuhan province in January.

The government responded to the outbreak last month by quarantining 50,000 people in 11 villages that were worst affected in the north.

That was followed on Sunday with restrictions on travel and public gatherings in Milan’s Lombardy region and surrounding areas such as Venice in which more than 15 million live and 40 per cent of all economic activity occurs.

The Lombardy measures were extended to all of the Mediterranean country’s 60 million people on Tuesday morning.

The restrictions have had a profound effect on the way Italians live and work.

The central streets of Rome were deserted on Wednesday morning and busses that are usually crammed with commuters ran almost empty.

Tourists have disappeared and the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square is closed to all but those who want to enter the main basilica to pray under its soaring dome overlooking Rome.

People have been told to keep at least a metre (three feet) from each other and handshakes are frowned upon. Italians have found themselves starting to talk to each other a few steps apart — while often laughing about the regulations along the way.

“For the love and a sense of responsibility toward Rome and all citizens, with enormous and profound disappointment, we decided to close to help the whole community out,” said a sign on one restaurant in Rome’s popular Trastevere neighbourhood.

“As soon as the emergency has passed, we will organise a free carbonara day for doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.”

All restaurants and bars across Italy have to shut by evening and can only offer home deliveries after 6:00 pm.

But Lombardy region leader Attilio Fontana urged the government in Rome to shut down all stores and public transport for 15 days across swathes of the north because “the situation is approaching a dangerous moment”.

“If the contagion continues to spread at this speed, the system will not be able to hold on for much longer,” Fontana told the Corriere della Sera daily.

“We are really reaching the maximum limits.”

He said only emergency services such as garbage collecting should continue during the total clampdown on public life.

The government in Rome was expected to consider his request later Wednesday.

AFP

Brexit: EU Envoys Finalise Mandate For UK Negotiations

An official hangs a Union Jack next to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, ahead of a European Union Summit on Brexit. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

EU envoys on Monday finalised a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier to lead what promise to be stormy talks with Britain on its future relations with the bloc starting next week.

The text, setting out the European Union’s demands and red lines, is to be formally adopted Tuesday at a meeting of the bloc’s ministers.

Britain is working on its own negotiating mandate, which it is expected to be published on Thursday.

Britain ceased to be part of the EU at the end of last month under the terms of a Brexit deal that ushered in a transition period for the big negotiations to take place on trade, security and defence.

The extent to which Britain will align with EU rules on environmental, labour, health, taxation and other standards is set to be one of the thorniest issues.

One EU source told AFP that the ambassadors adopted the mandate by consensus, adding: “It’s good news.”

The text “specifies that the agreement should allow us to have fair competition conditions over the long term,” the source added.

Another source said the mandate was “clarified on all necessary points”.

– Playing hardball –

Both London and Brussels have employed increasingly tough rhetoric in recent weeks.

Barnier, who has stood firm on EU positions, declined Monday to be drawn on the latest skirmish: a UK newspaper report alleging that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was seeking to undermine the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

He told AFP he believed and hoped that deal would be “respected by the United Kingdom — I don’t have any reason to think otherwise”.

The Sunday Times report, citing an unnamed British government “senior source”, said Johnson’s negotiating team was looking at ways aimed at “not obeying the Northern Ireland protocol” in the Brexit deal.

That protocol requires checks on goods between Britain and its Northern Ireland territory in the interest of maintaining economic integrity between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

The measure effectively puts a border for goods in the Irish Sea.

Johnson has repeatedly insisted that no checks would be needed, while his office said the UK “will comply with our obligations” under the withdrawal agreement.

On the other side of the table, France took the lead in injecting hardball conditions into successive drafts of the EU negotiating mandate.

Drafts of the text insist on a “level playing field” that “will stand the test of time”. That essentially demands Britain maintains standards equal to European ones, even if they change in the future.

That speaks to EU fears that Britain might try for a competitive edge by doing away with costly environmental, labour and tax norms.

It also says the EU alone will determine what British financial services will be deemed equivalent enough to be offered in the bloc.

And it says EU fishing boats should continue to be able to have access to British waters.

With Britain threatening to walk away and instead trade on only the most basic terms with the EU if necessary, the result of the negotiations — due to start next week and be completed by the end of the year — is uncertain.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned at the weekend he was “not sure” a deal would be struck by the end of December.

– No extension –

A “no deal” Brexit, with its heavy implications for the UK economy, does not seem to frighten the British government.

Johnson is asking for a simplified deal similar to those the EU has struck with Canada, Japan and South Korea that reduce tariff barriers to near zero, but which have less strict controls on standards.

“There is no reason that our proximity to the EU should mean extra restrictions on trade,” his spokesman said Monday.

“Proximity is not a determining factor in other FTAs (free trade agreements) between other neighbouring states with large economies.”

He insisted: “We will not accept alignment with the EU.”

London has until the end of June to ask for a deadline extension should the talks fail to make headway in the coming months.

But Johnson has ruled out asking for more time, a stance that raises the prospects of a “no deal” or only a bare-bones deal which could also bring major disruption.

AFP

Insurgency: It May Take Long But We Are Capable Of Handling It – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari in a meeting with the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, at the State House in Abuja in January 24, 2020.

 

The President believes the nation will surely put the issues associated with the troubles in the Northeast in order and move ahead, although it might take a bit longer.

President Muhammadu Buhari stated this while receiving the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, on Friday at the State House in Abuja.

“We have the experience of the civil war. I could recall the role of the military, the army each commander had in his pocket; how to behave himself and how to allow international bodies like yourself to go round and see for themselves that people are treated in the most humane way,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina.

The President added, “We have this experience and I assure you that we also have this confidence in your organisation. That is why I feel that Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis; it may take long, but we are capable of handling it.

“If we were capable to fight a 30-month civil war and reorganised our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it. I assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance and deepen cooperation with the EU in all areas.

“Our priorities in the next level is to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are rehabilitated  so that livelihood should be established and the children should not lose the opportunity to go back to school, which is very important for the future of that area and Nigeria generally.”

READ ALSO: Insurgency: UN, EU Ask Nigerian Govt To Explore Political Solution

President Buhari also appreciated the recent meeting in Germany which deliberated on the happenings in Libya.

He was worried about the weapons reaching the Sahel and the instability they cause, stressing that Libya has a direct impact on the stability of the Sahel.

“Look at the casualties in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali; as for Boko Haram, we try to disabuse the mind of the people and I think our people now understand the basic dishonesty in it. With my experience personally in the civil war, I am sure we will get over it,” the President said.

He was also confident that the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, would do a splendid job in managing the various humanitarian issues evolving from the North-East.

President Buhari said, “I assure you that we are aware of these problems and we will continue to do our best. The newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is coordinating NEMA and others, to make sure that whatever resources we get are well utilised.

“The ministry will be accountable to the government instead of having too many bodies doing the same thing. We are also reaching out to foreign countries explaining to them our position, and we are confident we will get over it.”

On his part, the EU commissioner stressed that Nigeria plays a big role in the African continent and globally in economic, social and other spheres.

He, therefore, asked for the development of a plan between the EU and Nigeria concerning the issues in the North-East.

Lenarcic said he had visited Borno State and appreciates government’s efforts to end the conflict there.

“We would like to support your efforts,” he told the President, adding, “We believe all relevant actors; military, civilian as well as humanitarian should come together.”

“In situations such as what we have in the North-East, international law and international humanitarian law should apply.

“We believe in your efforts to end the conflict; military effort alone probably will not be sufficient without identifying and addressing the socio-economic factors causing it,“ the EU commissioner added.

EU Invites Iranian Foreign Minister Amid Rising Regional Tensions

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks with his Russia’s counterpart during a meeting in Moscow on December 30, 2019.
Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

 

Iran’s foreign minister has been invited to Brussels, the European Union said Sunday, urging a “de-escalation of tensions” in the Gulf after US airstrikes that killed a top Iranian general.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made the offer to Mohammad Javad Zarif during a telephone call this weekend, a press release said.

“Borrell invited the Iranian Foreign Minister to Brussels to continue their engagement on these matters,” it said.

A regional political solution was the “only way forward”, Borrell said, underlining “the importance of preserving” the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

READ ALSO: US Lacks ‘Courage’ To Strike 52 Iranian sites – Army Chief

He confirmed “his resolve to continue to fully play his role as coordinator and keep the unity of the remaining participants in support of the agreement and its full implementation by all parties”.

US-Iran tensions have escalated since 2018 when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the landmark accord that gave Tehran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iran has hit back by reducing its nuclear commitments with a series of steps every 60 days, the most recent deadline passing Saturday.

Trump warned Saturday night that the US would hit Iran harder than ever before if it retaliates over the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force foreign operations.

He was killed in a US drone strike Friday near Baghdad international airport ordered by Trump, who accused the general of planning an imminent attack on American diplomats and troops in Iraq.

AFP

Boris Johnson Plans Law Blocking Brexit Delay Beyond 2020

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks to supporters on a visit to meet newly elected Conservative party MP for Sedgefield, Paul Howell at Sedgefield Cricket Club in County Durham, northeast England on December 14, 2019, following his Conservative party’s general election victory. 
Lindsey Parnaby / POOL / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to pass a law guaranteeing Britain’s Brexit transition period cannot run beyond the end of 2020, a source in his office said on Tuesday.

Johnson won a big majority in last week’s election on a promise to take Britain out of the European Union by the end of January, followed by a transition period when London and Brussels negotiate a trade agreement.

European leaders have said the December 2020 deadline would be too tight to complete a comprehensive deal and the main opposition Labour party says Johnson’s proposal could lead to a no-deal outcome.

“Last week the public voted for a government that would get Brexit done and move this country forward — and that’s exactly what we intend to do, starting this week,” a Downing Street source said.

“Our manifesto made clear that we will not extend the implementation period and the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill will legally prohibit government agreeing to any extension.”

The House of Commons returns on Tuesday to elect a speaker and begins swearing in MPs.

The state opening of parliament will take place on Thursday when Queen Elizabeth II will read out the government’s legislative programme.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is due to be brought before MPs on Friday.

AFP

EU Condemns Violence, Intimidation In Kogi, Bayelsa Elections

Photo: EUinNigeria Twitter Handle

 

The European Union has condemned the reports of widespread incidents of violence and voter intimidation in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

A statement by the Diplomatic Watch also expressed alarm at the reports of fatalities and missing people, urging stakeholders to call for calm.

The Diplomatic Watch deployed teams from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States to monitor both state elections on November 16.

“We express our alarm at reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi. There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all victims and their families.

“We encourage all stakeholders, in particular, political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to justice.

“We are also concerned by evident vote-buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi.”

READ ALSO: INEC Suspends Collation Of Kogi Election Results Till Monday

The EU commended the commitment of voters in both states who came out to vote and asked that those enshrined with the mandate to see through a smooth democratic process should continue to act in all capacity.

“We commend the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights. We express our sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters; INEC officials; members of the NYSC; civil society; and the media. All should be able to carry out their fundamental role in the democratic process free from intimidation and harassment.”

Boris Johnson Warns EU He Will Not Delay Brexit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the Leaders for Nature and People event during the Climate Action Summit 2019 in the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the European Union on Sunday that he will not delay Brexit beyond October 31, underlining that his latest proposals are a last chance to reach a deal.

Johnson told French President Emmanuel Macron in a telephone call on Sunday that “the EU should not be lured into the mistaken belief that the UK will stay in the EU after October 31st”, a Downing Street spokesman quoted him as saying.

The UK premier said he would not request another delay, despite British MPs passing a law last month that requires him to seek another Brexit delay if he fails to secure an agreement by the end of a make-or-break EU summit on October 17-18.

This law was “undermining negotiations, but if EU leaders are betting that it will prevent no deal, that would be a historic misunderstanding”, a senior Downing Street source said.

“The UK has made a big, important offer but it’s time for the (European) Commission to show a willingness to compromise too. If not the UK will leave with no deal,” the source added.

European leaders have reacted tepidly to London’s latest propositions.

Britain has urged the EU to intensify talks over the proposals, as European leaders warned it must revise its plans within days in order to conclude a deal this month.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the bloc needed to show “creativity and flexibility” ahead of October 31 — when Johnson has vowed to end the country’s 46 years of EU membership with or without an agreement.

With the EU asking for reworked proposals within days, an Elysee Palace spokesperson said Macron agreed in his call with Johnson that talks between EU top negotiator Michel Barnier’s team and British officials should continue in the coming days “to assess if an agreement is possible” by the end of the week.

Barclay reiterated that the ideas Johnson has formally submitted to Brussels were “a broad landing zone” and “intense negotiations” were now necessary.

“We’ve set out very serious proposals including compromise on our side,” he told the BBC.

“We do need to get into the intensive negotiations on the text to clarify what the deal is.”

Barclay added the government was considering holding a parliamentary vote ahead of the EU summit to show Brussels the plans have MPs’ support.

European leaders had reportedly balked at Britain’s request to keep initial discussions on the proposals going through the weekend, and they will resume on Monday, with time running out ahead of the EU summit.

 ‘No more dither’

Johnson began phoning European leaders at the weekend to sell his proposals, speaking to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday.

Rutte tweeted he had told Johnson “important questions remain about the British proposals” and “there is a lot of work to be done ahead” of the summit.

Barnier told an event in France Saturday that while an agreement was still possible it “will be very difficult to reach”.

The British leader is hoping the threat of a messy no-deal departure in less than three weeks could force the EU to compromise.

Barclay said Sunday that the government would comply with the legislation requiring Johnson to seek another delay if no deal is reached.

But in identical articles for two Brexit-backing British tabloids, Johnson insisted the country will leave the bloc later this month.

 ‘Ready to work’

The British proposals submitted to Brussels Wednesday centre on how to manage the post-Brexit border between British province Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

Johnson wants Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly — which has been suspended for almost three years — to vote every four years on whether to maintain EU rather than British regulations there.

He has also proposed the province leaves the EU’s customs union along with the rest of the UK, with required checks to rely on untried technology and carried out away from the sensitive border.

Brussels has said the plans “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.

It sees the potential for rampant smuggling while Ireland is concerned hardline Northern Irish unionists would have an effective veto.

Barclay, who travelled to Amsterdam Sunday for Brexit talks, suggested Britain could be willing to consider alternative ways of meeting its aims.

“We’re ready to work on that,” he said.

Ireland’s leader Leo Varadkar said Saturday there is “plenty of time” to put forward alternatives and he was trying to arrange a meeting with Johnson next week, Irish broadcaster RTE reported.

AFP

EU Urges ‘Maximum Restraint’ Over Attacks On Saudi Oil Facilities

European Union, Ogbonnaya Onu, Science and technology

 

The European Union on Monday stressed its call for “maximum restraint” following weekend attacks on key Saudi oil facilities that have triggered bellicose words from the US, which blamed Iran.

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told journalists: “We see them (the attacks) as a real threat to regional security, and at a time that tensions in the region are running very high this attack undermines ongoing work at de-escalation and dialogue.”

No-Deal Brexit Would Betray Britain, Says Ex-Finance Minister

Photo: Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP

 

A no-deal Brexit would betray Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, former finance minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday, as he slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “wrecking” approach to negotiations.

Hammond, who quit as chancellor just hours before Johnson took over from Theresa May on July 24, said there was no popular or parliamentary mandate for a no-deal Brexit, saying most people wanted an orderly exit from the EU.

“No-deal would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result. It must not happen,” he wrote in The Times newspaper.

He said it could turn Britain into “a diminished and inward-looking little England”.

The British parliament three times rejected the withdrawal agreement May negotiated with Brussels, with many MPs troubled by the “backstop” — a mechanism that would keep the UK in EU customs arrangements to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Hammond said the shift of position from seeking changes to the backstop to demanding its removal “is a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one”, setting an impossibly high bar.

“This is a demand the EU cannot, and will not, accede to.

“It’s time for our government to demonstrate its commitment to a genuine negotiation with the EU to achieve a deal.”

Britain is due to leave the European Union on October 31.

Johnson has pledged to stick to this date, whether a deal can be struck with Brussels or not.

Hammond said a no-deal Brexit would also threaten the United Kingdom’s integrity as it risked collapsing the peace accords in Northern Ireland and triggering a referendum on the province leaving the UK and joining the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.

It would also lead to a second secession referendum in Scotland and the likely break-up of the UK, Hammond claimed.

He also said US talk of a “great trade deal” meant a trade deal that was great for them, opening up Britain to US produce that would “destroy British agriculture”.

Hammond warned that if parliament wanted to go down a particular route to prevent a no-deal Brexit, the means would emerge to allow that to happen.

John Bercow, the speaker of parliament’s lower House of Commons, warned seperately he would “fight it with every bone in my body” any attempt by Johnson to suspend parliament to force through no-deal against MPs’ wishes.

The Commons “must have its way”, he told an audience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, according to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Johnson Putting UK On ‘Collision Course’ With EU – Irish minister

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a statement in the House of Commons in London on July 25, 2019.

 

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has deliberately set Britain on a “collision course” with the EU over Brexit negotiations, Ireland’s foreign minister was quoted as saying on Friday.

“He seems to have made a deliberate decision to set Britain on a collision course with the European Union and with Ireland in relation to the Brexit negotiations,” Simon Coveney was quoted by Irish state broadcaster RTE as saying in Belfast.

“I think only he can answer the question as to why he’s doing that.”

In his maiden parliamentary speech as prime minister on Thursday Johnson promised to press ahead with plans to reopen the deal agreed with the EU — despite firm pushback from other EU leaders.

Tension around the withdrawal deal centres on the so-called backstop — a mechanism designed to preserve the EU’s single market and prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The clause was the chief reason the deal thrice failed to pass through the British parliament under Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, bringing the nation to the brink of a crash out, requiring extensions from the EU and ultimately unseating her from power.

But on Thursday Johnson hardened rhetoric around a no-deal Brexit, which would see Britain leave the trading bloc without cushioning measures on October 31 if a deal cannot be brokered.

Coveney said Johnson’s remarks were “very unhelpful”.

“From a Brexit negotiating  perspective it was a very bad day yesterday, and we’ll have to wait and see whether that message coming from London changes,” he said.

EU Says May Resignation Changes Nothing In Brexit Talks

 

The European Union said Friday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation does nothing to change its position on the Brexit withdrawal deal that its members agreed with Britain.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted May’s decision “without personal joy,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the council of EU leaders has “set out its position” on the Brexit deal.

READ ALSO: Macron Urges ‘Rapid Clarification’ On Brexit As May Steps Down

Some of the candidates to replace May as leader of the Conservative Party and thus prime minister have said they would seek to change the terms of the divorce deal she negotiated.

But commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva old reporters that the other 27 EU leaders had approved the deal as it stands and that there are no plans to re-open its terms.

As has long been the case, Brussels could envisage modifying a non-binding political declaration that accompanies the Brexit treaty to flesh out ambitions for future EU-UK ties.

But the withdrawal agreement, which May tried and failed three times to get past the British parliament, is not up for renegotiation, Andreeva said, reiterating the EU stance.

Juncker, she said, “very much liked and appreciated working with Prime Minister May and, as he as said before, Theresa May is a woman of courage for whom he has great respect.

“He will equally respect and establish working relations with any new prime minister, whoever they may be, without stoping his conversations with Prime Minister May,” she said.

“Our position on the Withdrawal Agreement and anything else has been set out by Margaritis yesterday. There is no change to that,” she added, referring to chief EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

On Thursday, Schinas had told reporters: “Our position is clear: the divorce agreement, the withdrawal agreement, cannot be reopened, cannot be renegotiated.

“The European Council has included in its conclusions several sentences which say that the political declaration can be reviewed if and as long as it does not undermine the spirit of the agreement.”

Separately, the EU official who negotiated the agreement with May, Michel Barnier tweeted: “I would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU.

AFP

EU Condemns Trump’s Withdrawal From UN Arms Trade Treaty

 

The European Union warned Saturday that US President Donald Trump’s rejection of a UN treaty designed to regulate the global arms trade would hamper the global fight against illicit weapons trafficking.

“A decision by the US to revoke its signature would not contribute to the ongoing efforts to encourage transparency in the international arms trade, to prevent illicit trafficking and to combat the diversion of conventional arms,” said the EU’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini.

“The EU will continue to call on all states, and in particular the major arms exporters and importers, to join the Arms Trade Treaty without delay,” she said.

READ ALSO: Trump Rejects “Misguided” UN Arms Treaty

Trump said Friday the United States would not abide by the 2013 treaty aimed at regulating the global arms trade, calling it “misguided” and encroachment on US sovereignty.

The US Senate never ratified the treaty after former president Barack Obama endorsed it. Trump said he was revoking his predecessor’s signature.

Mogherini said the EU viewed the pact — which seeks to regulate the flow of weapons to conflict zones — as key to “contributing to international efforts to ensure peace, security and stability.

“All 28 Member States have joined the ATT and are determined in pursuing its objectives and its universal ratification and implementation,” Mogherini said.

The treaty, which entered into effect in December 2014, requires member countries to keep records of international transfers of weapons and to prohibit cross-border shipments that could be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.

While 130 countries originally signed the treaty, only 101 have ratified it. Those include major powers like France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The world’s largest arms traders, the United States, China and Russia, have not joined.

“The unregulated arms trade continues to cause major suffering in many parts of the world, fuelling conflicts, terrorism and organised crime,” Mogherini said.

“Small arms and light weapons kill around 500,000 people every year, in addition to the victims of other conventional weapons.”

Trump has already withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement on curbing Earth-warming carbon emissions, signed by most of the world’s nations.

He has also taken the country out of a multilateral nuclear deal on Iran, as well as a Cold War-era arms treaty with Russia.

The EU has hit out at each of these moves, which have soured transatlantic ties and relations between Washington and its European allies in NATO.

AFP