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 Hungary and Poland transmitted this Friday in Granada, destroying 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 migration 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 forever be 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 that it was one of the risks. They had asked us to incorporate a point linked to immigration, but let us not forget that Granada was called to talk about resilience, competitiveness and the agenda strategic”, the Spanish 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. It was introduced on the agenda by the Italian Giorgia Meloni, who asked Pedro Sánchez and Michel in writing to reserve time for her, 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.

But since that was not enough, the blockade came this Friday, when Warsaw and Budapest refused to accept the language proposed by the Spanish editors in the migration section. Viktor Orban and Mateusz Morawieki came to our country wanting a fight, talking about the “EU dictatorship”, about an alleged attempt to impose a pact on them to fill its streets with “illegal immigrants, riots and violence.” Or saying, without any taboo or institutional respect, that they were “legally violated” when the Council’s position on the fifth regulation of the Migration Pact, which deals with crisis management, was approved on Wednesday by a qualified majority and with their vote against. .

“I am the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland. I am responsible for the security of Poland and its citizens. Therefore, as a responsible politician, I officially reject the entire paragraph of the summit conclusions on migration. Poland is and will remain being safe under the PiS government,” Morawiecki celebrated at the conclusion of yet another act of the permanent electoral campaign. The position is at stake and the strategy is to spread fear, denounce Brussels and associate Donald Tusk with the institutions (he was president of the European Council) and with the Migration Pact.

The dispute was long on the margins, between ambassadors and Sherpas. The leaders left it for lunch, hoping that the technicians could iron out the bulk of the differences, but it was not enough. And in the final appearance, Sánchez, Michel and Von der Leyen tiptoed around, avoiding as much as possible any mention of friction. Highlighting the “broad support” there is for the regulations and putting on a blindfold, trying to put it on the citizens, in the face of the dirty war that lies ahead. Hungary and Poland cannot veto the regulations that are now being negotiated with the European Parliament, because that is done by qualified majority. But they can apply their veto to many other vital issues, from the Community Budget to the reform of fiscal rules to aid to Ukraine. And they will not hesitate to do so, or to market with their frozen cohesion funds, if they are not listened to.

The options today were several. That the differences would be overcome and the original text would move forward. That the Declaration died completely. That any paragraph or mention of migration be eliminated. Or the formula that in recent years has gone from being Plan B, to what is most recurrent, those decaffeinated parallel statements, a way of presenting bad news, a veto, a failure, as something less relevant.

The above was not the only sensitive point of the immigration issue. The high representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borell, also took the opportunity to settle scores with his boss, Ursula von der Leyen. The Spaniard, who in addition to his position as head of community diplomacy is vice president of the Commission, was charged with what two sources describe as “unusual harshness” against the German, on account of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by her with the government of Tunisia. to reduce flows. This agreement is controversial for many reasons, since it involves giving money to a corrupt leader in exchange for cutting off boat departures. It means turning a blind eye to rights violations and political persecutions. But also, and that seems to be what bothers the governments the most, because Von der Leyen made the decision without counting on the governments

Borrell, who a few weeks ago sent a harsh letter to the responsible commissioner, the Neighborhood Commissioner, attacked the German’s decision at the meeting. “The agreements must be approved by the Council before being signed. Consulting the ambassadors is not enough nor is it the correct procedure. The rulings of the CJEU are clear,” he reproached him, as explained by a European source.