Why two of the EU’s biggest political headaches aren’t going away any time soon

European leaders came together to pick through the thorny issues of migration and how quickly Ukraine should be welcomed into the EU, writes Chris Stevenson. But divisions between nations mean progress will be hard won

Friday 06 October 2023 19:13 BST
<p>EU leaders pose for a photo during the informal summit, in Granada, Spain </p>

EU leaders pose for a photo during the informal summit, in Granada, Spain

A summit in Granada was supposed to be a chance for Europe to gain some clarity about two major issues – how to tackle migration and what to do about welcoming war-ravaged Ukraine and other nations into the EU.

On Thursday, the European Political Community (EPC) met, with 44 heads of state or government coming together from across the continent. It included the EU member states as well as countries like the UK and Ukraine. Migration was a key issue, with EU nations split between those who want initiatives focused on distributing those who arrive into the bloc between all members in a joint act of solidarity and those nations who see such migration as a threat.

In a sign of the splits in the EU, Italy reached outside the bloc, with prime minister Giorgia Meloni joining forces with the UK’s Rishi Sunak to issue a call for their European partners to show the “same sense of urgency” in tackling illegal migration. Meloni’s far-right government has taken a hardline stance against the thousands of people reaching Italy by boat across the Mediterranean this year, which Sunak’s government has taken a similar stance about boats crossing the channel, although the numbers are smaller. The pair held a meeting on the sidelines of the EPC with a number of other nations about the issue, with it not having been placed on the main agenda.

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