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POLITICO: Poland, Hungary threaten to derail EU leaders’ gathering in Granada

6-10-2023 |

A gathering of EU leaders in Granada was on the brink of collapse on Friday as Hungary and Poland threatened to block a final statement summing up countries’ views on migration and Ukraine’s future accession to the European Union.

On his way into the summit, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki outlined his firm opposition to any statement supportive of a recently agreed European migration deal — effectively killing off chances for consensus around a final text.

“There is no possibility of distributing illegal immigrants without the consent of individual member states,” said the Law and Justice party leader, who faces a parliamentary election on October 15. “Poland puts a strong veto to such a position.”

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán was even more incendiary, saying that Poland and Hungary had been “pushed” to sign off on an EU migration reform plan earlier this week but would not endorse any compromise position in Granada.

“After this, there is no chance to have any kind of compromise and agreement on migration … because legally we are raped. If you are raped, legally, forced to accept something you don’t like, how would you like to have a compromise and an agreement? It’s impossible.”

Seeking ways to bring down the number of refugees and migrants arriving illegally in Europe was high on the agenda at the summit of European leaders in Granada. Migration remains a key concern for the bloc, especially ahead of European elections next year and amid rising populism that frequently stokes anti-immigrant rhetoric.

After months of deadlock, EU members agreed Wednesday on the final part of a migration deal that would toughen measures against illegal migration and introduce an agreement to distribute arriving migrants among EU members.

Speaking to POLITICO on the sidelines of the summit, several EU diplomats who were granted anonymity to speak candidly shared their concern that yet another meeting could fall flat with no joint declaration.

“Nobody cares enough about the declaration to fight for it,” one of the diplomats said, adding that Poland and Hungary are setting conditions that no one wants to give in to. “By not engaging, you basically take away the leverage.”

The other diplomat said that “it’s possible that [European Council President Charles] Michel will come out with his own statement.”

Another one diplomat said that given pressure to produce any sort of outcome, a final statement could be adopted without the migration paragraph.