The EU summit in Granada, Spain was in danger of falling apart on Friday due to Hungary and Poland’s threats to block a statement summarizing their stance on immigration and Ukraine’s potential membership in the EU.
Before entering the summit, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed strong opposition to any statement endorsing the recently reached European migration agreement, effectively preventing the possibility of reaching a consensus on the final text.
The leader of the Law and Justice party, who is up for election on October 15, stated that it is not possible to relocate unauthorized immigrants without the agreement of each member state. They also mentioned that Poland strongly opposes this stance.
Viktor Orbán of Hungary made even more inflammatory remarks, stating that both Poland and Hungary were coerced into approving an EU migration reform plan earlier in the week, but will not support any middle ground solution in Granada. He declared that there is now no possibility for compromise or agreement on migration, as they have been violated legally. Orbán compared the situation to being raped, stating that it is impossible to reach a compromise or agreement when forced to accept something against one’s will.
Finding solutions to decrease the influx of refugees and migrants who enter Europe illegally was a top priority at the summit of European leaders in Granada. The issue of migration continues to be a major concern for the bloc, particularly with the upcoming European elections and the growing trend of populism, which often promotes hostile attitudes towards immigrants.
EU member states reached a consensus on Wednesday after months of stalemate, regarding the last component of a migration agreement. This would involve implementing stricter measures against illegal migration and implementing a pact to allocate incoming migrants among EU countries.
The hindrance caused by Orbán and Morawiecki posed a threat to the gathering, which took place just one day after a larger summit with 47 countries and over 700 journalists ended with little impact. The final press conference was abruptly cancelled.
Four EU diplomats, speaking anonymously to POLITICO during the summit, expressed their worry that yet another meeting could end without a joint declaration.
One of the diplomats stated that no one is willing to fight for the declaration and that Poland and Hungary are imposing terms that no one is willing to concede to. “By not participating, you essentially remove any leverage,” the diplomat added.
One of the diplomats also mentioned the possibility of European Council President Charles Michel issuing his own statement.
According to a report by POLITICO on Thursday, the Spanish hosts of the meeting aimed to achieve unanimous consensus on a statement that endorsed the enlargement of the European Union, internal changes within the bloc, and a unified approach towards migration. The latest version of the statement, which was seen on Thursday, had stronger language regarding migration compared to a previous version from a week ago.
However, the more stringent variation was not expected to gain approval from Hungary and Poland due to their support for the EU’s migration agreement signed by leaders of both countries earlier this week, according to a second diplomat. “They are making threats to eliminate the entire section on migration from the declaration,” said a third diplomat.
One of the diplomats stated that due to the urge to reach a result, the final statement may be approved without including the section on migration.