Decisions may be made by qualified majority, reforms may be promoted against the will of some capitals, but the battle over the immigration issue has only just begun and it is going to be bloody. That is the message that the governments of Granada transmitted this Friday Hungary and Poland, breaking up the second day of meetings of continental leaders and vetoing the original and complete text of the long-awaited Declaration in which Spain had placed so much hope, and so much effort. The refusal of both states made the agreement impossible, so the document had to be torn apart. On the one hand, the Declaration at 27 on the strategic agenda, resilience and enlargement, and on the other a weak addendum from the president of the European Council, Charles Michel only for immigration issues.
“The declaration has been adopted, and it is a very important step to continue the work in the coming weeks to identify the strategic needs of the Union,” said the Belgian politician at the end of the session. “The Summit has been a success. The name of Granada will be forever linked to the future of Europe, to the deepening of the European project. Today is the beginning of the debate on the strategic agenda,” Pedro Sánchez agreed. “The effort has been worth it. What happened does not tarnish the Declaration, we knew it was one of the risks. They had asked us to incorporate a point linked to immigration, but let’s not forget that Granada was called to talk about resilience, competitiveness and the strategic agenda,” the Spaniard has removed iron from the veto of the members of Visegrad.
The Granada Declaration seeks or sought to be something similar to a philosophical roadmap, to initiate a debate or enhance it, on many topics. Including the so-called strategic autonomy, which Spain insists on calling “open” and which France advocates closing a little more. The discussion about its definition, scope and implications is very much alive, and the 27 are not clear about the route. The change of format in the Declaration has no legal relevance. They are not conclusions of a formal European Council, there was nothing to ‘approve’, nor specific instructions to give to the ministers or the Commission officially. But it has symbolic, political relevance. It reflects how it is increasingly difficult to achieve unity on important issues, which in turn multiplies questions about the operation of a European Union with 30 or 36 members, all with the ability to block or veto when they are dissatisfied.
All the sources consulted explain that the bulk of the day was dedicated to the strategic agenda and medium and long-term challenges, with a “quality debate” and relevant advances. But the issue of identity, of borders, cannibalizes everything else, swallows up progress and monopolizes attention.
That the immigration issue was going to be the central issue was clear at the end of last week and confirmed the day before. The initial objective was to talk about the future, about enlargement, about the answer that the EU will give in December to the question of whether Ukraine and Moldova are ready to start their accession negotiations, of strategic autonomy. How to maintain aid to Ukraine now that the US is beginning to doubt and some of the partners, from Hungary to Slovakia and from Poland to Romania, are multiplying their reservations, problems or open opposition. But instead, the central issue was that of borders. The Italian introduced it to the agenda Giorgia Meloni, who asked Pedro Sánchez and Michel in writing to reserve time for him, something not initially planned. And he shoehorned it in again, irritating the Spanish Government, on Thursday, organizing a parallel meeting in which the prime ministers or presidents of Holland, the United Kingdom, France and Albania ended up participating, as well as the president of the Commission. , Ursula von der Leyen.