Eu Summit in Granada: Facing the Challenges of the Future

Politics - October 8, 2023

The third summit of the European Political Community began on 5 October in Granada, Andalusia. The European Political Community (EPC) is a platform for political and strategic discussions on the future of Europe that was inaugurated exactly one year ago, on 6 October 2022, when the Heads of State and Government of nearly 50 European countries met in Prague to promote cooperation and political dialogue in Europe in order to best address major issues such as defence, prosperity and stability.

The 2023 Forum was attended by the EU Member States as well as Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. They were joined by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reportedly due to a health problem, and President İlham Aliyev were absent. The original intention was to hold two summits a year. After the first in Prague, the second will be held in Moldova on 1 June 2023, before the third in Granada.

At the meeting, EU leaders focused their discussions on the migrant dossier and economic competitiveness, but also on the environment and digital skills, such as artificial intelligence, and finally, of course, the war in Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also attended the meeting. The leaders took the opportunity to reiterate their commitment and unwavering support for the Ukrainian cause. The interim president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, reiterated Spain’s “firm” commitment, as the country currently holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, to “continue to take steps to formally open talks” on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, pending the report of the European Commission, which will give its opinion on whether the requirements set out in the Treaties have been met and the necessary reforms have been implemented by the Ukrainian government. The Spanish President also held a bilateral meeting with Zelenski before the opening session of the meeting, during which they also discussed the dispatch of a new military assistance package to the people of Ukraine.

Among the challenges at the top of the European agenda is enlargement. There are currently eight countries with official EU candidate status. These are Turkey, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. In addition, Georgia and Kosovo are potential candidates. According to European sources, the new member states are expected to join the EU family by 2030, thus enlarging the European Union in less than a decade.

The issue of enlargement is closely linked to the so-called merit principle, whereby candidate countries must make efforts to align their laws with EU rules and standards. In this context, a common vision was discussed and agreed on how to work on a new approach for gradual accession to the EU.

Another topic discussed was the energy sector, which is particularly important at a time like the present, and which will have to be taken into account more and more in the future, also considering the need to put more effort into the implementation of renewable energy. The sensitive issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, involving Azerbaijan on the one hand and Armenian separatists on the other, was also raised, which has led to a mass exodus from the enclave, with more than a hundred thousand people displaced. On this issue, the European Union decided to remain united in condemning Azerbaijan’s offensive and, in this regard, millions in humanitarian aid were offered to Armenia.

In addition, the President of the European Council, the Chancellor of Germany and the President of France underlined their firm support for Armenia’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders. However, the main focus of the summit was migration. Indeed, all states agree on the need to address this issue, especially in view of the increase in refugees and deaths in the Mediterranean.

Already last Wednesday, 4 October, the EU made significant progress in the negotiations on the migration and asylum pact.In particular, it was the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, together with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the Albanian Edi Rama and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who held a meeting to discuss the fight against human trafficking in an even more focused and precise manner, discussing concrete and structural solutions to put an end to a phenomenon that, otherwise, will continue to spiral out of control and exacerbate the situation that the European continent is experiencing. Also noteworthy was the meeting between Meloni and Scholz, who, after some disagreements on the issue of migration, held cordial talks and reached a convergence of visions, thus smoothing relations and avoiding any friction.

It is important to note, however, that despite the progress made in Granada, Poland and Hungary expressed their indignation at the planned changes and vetoed them.

French President Emmanuel Macron reacted by saying that there was not enough opposition to deprive the 27 of the necessary numbers. “Budapest and Warsaw expressed their disagreement at the negotiating table,” he said. “This is a position they had already expressed at ministerial level, but it will not prevent us from achieving a qualified majority and will therefore still allow us to make concrete progress.

During the summit in Andalusia, there were a number of bilateral meetings, which allowed the various leaders to meet face to face in a more restricted way and to consolidate and strengthen relations between the various nations, building a solid foundation for the overall future of Europe in the broadest sense. There was, for example, the meeting of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, with the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, which resulted in a joint communiqué of support for Armenia.

The Summit of the European Political Community was followed, also in Granada, by an informal meeting of the European Council, where the 27 EU leaders focused on the priorities for the next legislature.

Thus, on 6 October, the EU members gathered to talk about the various challenges and crises that Europe has faced in recent years and from which it has emerged stronger and more united, from the COVID pandemic in March 2020 to the war between Russia and Ukraine that broke out in February 2022.  All issues that fit into the strategic agenda of the EU’s objectives.

The Friday 6 October session focused on security, defence and cyber resilience, competitiveness and the single market, green and digital transition, opportunities for multilateralism and global partnerships, migration and enlargement.The events held in Granada between 5 and 6 October, involving many institutional, governmental and political actors from the European scene, took place in a context of growth and strengthening of the EU and beyond. There is still a long way to go and there will certainly be obstacles to overcome, but if each member focuses on maximising its efforts to protect its national interests, it will be increasingly easy to ensure greater prosperity and security for the whole of Europe.