During the informal EU leaders’ meeting in Granada, the populist leaders of Poland and Hungary vehemently opposed the proposed immigration system reform, even though they couldn’t prevent the agreement reached in Brussels two days prior regarding immigration crisis management. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his anti-Brussels stance, went as far as likening the situation to “rape,” emphasizing the impossibility of compromise when one is forced into something they vehemently oppose.
“We are not intimidated by directives from Brussels and Berlin,” asserted Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, reaffirming his country’s refusal to accept an “illegal immigrant settlement” system, just days before Poland’s parliamentary elections. These two nations expressed their disagreement by blocking the joint declaration on immigration at the informal meeting, a symbolic move underscoring their dissent.
Migration, a contentious issue among the EU member states, was a focal point due to the recent influx of migrants in Lampedusa, prompting Italy to stress the urgent need for a unified European response. An increase in arrivals was also noted in the Spanish Canary Islands. EU countries’ permanent ambassadors recently agreed on a regulation outlining mandatory solidarity between member states in the event of an “emergency situation” arising from massive migrant arrivals. The regulation will undergo negotiations between the EU Council and the European Parliament, aiming to finalize the new EU Asylum and Migration Pact before the 2024 European elections. Poland and Hungary opposed this agreement, with Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic abstaining.
At the summit’s conclusion, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed contentment, noting that the issue was progressing with a qualified majority. Poland and Hungary’s demand for the final communique to specify unanimity for the Pact reform’s adoption was rejected, leading them to withhold support for the joint statement.
Simultaneously, EU leaders expressed support for expanding the bloc by adding new members but refrained from setting a specific timetable. Candidate countries like Ukraine were warned that there would be no “shortcuts.” The ’27’ leaders emphasized that EU enlargement constitutes an investment in peace, security, stability, and prosperity. However, they emphasized that both the EU and prospective members, including Ukraine, Moldova, and the Western Balkans, must undergo significant reforms, especially concerning the rule of law.
The communique stated that prospective members need to intensify their reform efforts and meet specific legal, economic, and democratic criteria. Joining the EU requires years of adherence to these criteria. Additionally, the EU must revise its decision-making processes and fiscal rules to accommodate new members.