The leaders of Hungary and Poland have blocked a joint statement on migration policy at an informal EU summit in Granada, Spain, on Friday. The two countries opposed the section of the declaration that focused on the reform of the bloc’s asylum and migration rules, which they have repeatedly criticized as being too lenient and imposing mandatory quotas on member states.
The migration reform package, which was agreed by EU diplomats earlier this week, aims to share responsibility for undocumented arrivals better and to speed up the processing of asylum applications. The package also includes measures to strengthen the EU’s external borders, to cooperate with third countries on migration management, and to increase legal pathways for migrants.
However, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki refused to endorse the declaration, arguing that the decisions should have been taken by consensus and not by a qualified majority vote. They also accused the EU of trying to force a migration policy that would endanger their national sovereignty and security.
The veto by Hungary and Poland prevented the adoption of a comprehensive statement that would have also addressed the other topic on the agenda: the EU’s enlargement process. The leaders of the 27 member states expressed their support for the accession of the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, but stressed that they had to meet certain standards and criteria to join the bloc. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the European perspective of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.
The summit in Granada was meant to be an informal gathering of EU leaders to discuss the future of Europe ahead of a conference on the same topic next year. However, it was overshadowed by the clash over migration, which exposed once again the deep divisions within the bloc on one of its most sensitive and controversial issues.