The EU reaffirms its “total solidarity” with Spain in the Ceuta crisis: “It is a European border”

European leaders postpone the debate on immigration policy reform to an upcoming summit.

The president of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, reported this Tuesday to European leaders during the face-to-face summit held in Brussels on the “unprecedented crisis“that Ceuta suffered last week for the”massive arrival of migrants from Morocco“. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has reiterated his “total solidarity” with Spain, but the migration issue has not been addressed in depth and is postponed to a future summit.

“We reaffirm total European solidarity towards the Spanish Government, towards the Spanish authorities with regard to the migration issue and the protection and security of the Spanish borders: it’s about the european borders“, Michel explained in a press conference at dawn, at the end of the first day of the summit.

The President of the European Council has nevertheless clarified that European leaders have not discussed the migration issue because it was not on the agenda. Of course, he has recognized that several heads of State and Government have demanded that the immigration reform – whose processing is totally blocked – be included in a future meeting. However, it has not clarified if that will happen already at the next summit on June 24 and 25.

It was Mario Draghi who requested a brief point of information on migration policy in the European Council. The Italian prime minister wanted to reactivate the debate on refugee sharing quotas to ease the renewed pressure on Italy on the island of Lampedusa. Sánchez has joined their demands with his presentation on the situation in Ceuta. Nevertheless, the debate lasted only a few minutes at the end of a long working dinner devoted to Belarus, Russia or the United Kingdom.

Upon arrival in Brussels, Sánchez admitted that the “massive arrival” of migrants to Ceuta has triggered a “unprecedented crisis between the European Union and Morocco“. Sánchez thanks the community institutions and the rest of the partners for their support.”firm and forceful“during the crisis and demands from the Government of Rabat “respect” for the borders.

The President of the Government has emphasized that our country is the main supporter of Rabat before the EU when, for example, negotiating development aid. “Always remind Morocco that there is no better or greater ally within the EU than Spain“, he insisted.

“We want to have a relationship that is as constructive as possible, but it has to be based on two main axes,” Sánchez warned. “The first, trust; and the second, respect and in this case respect for the borders of Europe, the Spanish borders of Ceuta and Melilla for the Moroccan country, “says the Prime Minister.

Immigration blockade

Internal negotiations in the EU on the Asylum and Immigration Pact proposed by Von der Leyen in September 2020, are completely blocked. Hence Michel’s reluctance to put this matter on the European Council’s agenda. “At this time, consensus is the reinforcement of borders and the external dimension of migration“says a senior community official.

In other words, there is only an agreement in Brussels to outsource border control to countries such as Turkey, Libya or Morocco, which threatens to perpetuate the problem and leave the EU at the mercy of these authoritarian regimes. This chapter of the external dimension, the pacts with the countries of origin and transit of the migrants, is the one that could be accelerated after the intervention of Draghi and Sánchez this Monday, according to the sources consulted.

In contrast, in the rest of the pillars of Von der Leyen’s plan there is no rapprochement of positions of any kind. In fact, Member States are divided into three seemingly irreconcilable camps. The countries on the front line of the external border – Spain, Italy, Greece and Malta – demand more solidarity from the rest of the partners and insist on the need for mandatory quotas for the distribution of refugees and migrants.

For their part, the Nordics, but also Germany or France, are willing to accept a deal, but first they demand that border Member States tighten controls to prevent so-called “secondary movements” in the EU. That is, they prevent migrants from traveling north, to the countries where they really want to go. In fact, Madrid and Rome denounce that the Brussels proposals would ultimately force them to create large closed refugee centers on the border: Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, Lampedusa or Lesbos.

The third side is made up of Eastern countries, led by Poland or Hungary, who reject any type of quotas and even alternative forms of solidarity and defend that the only solution is a fortress Europe that lets no one in. Since the refugee crisis in 2015, migration has become an emotional and poisoned debate in the EU, and the confrontation between the three sides makes any progress very difficult.