Rishi Sunak heads to Granada summit with message for European leaders to follow Britain’s tough migration action – despite Spanish hosts refusing to put it on the agenda
Rishi Sunak has arrived in Granada today to urge European leaders to follow Britain’s tough action on illegal migration.
The Prime Minister is attending a summit in the Spanish city and will point to his efforts to crackdown on small boat crossings in the Channel.
The gathering of the European Political Community will be attended by the leaders of 47 countries.
But there have already been tensions between those attending after the summit’s Spanish hosts refused to put migration on the official agenda for the meeting.
Instead national leaders will formally discuss Artificial Intelligence, climate action and the Ukraine war, with talks on migration due to be held on the sidelines of the summit.
Rishi Sunak has arrived in Granada today to urge European leaders to follow Britain’s tough action on illegal migration
The Prime Minister is attending a summit in the Spanish city and will point to his efforts to crackdown on small boat crossings in the Channel
It previously emerged how Mr Sunak had been demanding a formal focus on illegal migration at this week’s EPC summit, but was rebuffed by Spain
A group of people (pictured in August) thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat travelling from the coast of France and heading in the direction of Dover, Kent
The European Political Community – the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron – was formed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
It brings together both European Union member states and those European nations that are outside the Brussels-based bloc.
Former PM Liz Truss attended the first EPC summit in Prague last October, while Mr Sunak made a trip to Moldova in June for its second gathering.
It previously emerged how Mr Sunak had been demanding a formal focus on illegal migration at this week’s EPC summit, but was rebuffed by Spain.
A European diplomat said the UK had ‘pushed’ for the agenda to be switched, but said the efforts were ‘not going to go anywhere’.
Mr Sunak and right-wing Italian PM Giorgia Meloni will lead breakaway talks on illegal migration and organised crime on the sidelines of the Granada summit.
The PM will use the talks to raise the need for more coordinated action – including intelligence sharing – to address rising levels of illegal migration to Europe.
A Government source told The Times: ‘The mood music on illegal immigration in the EU is changing, with many EU leaders now saying very similar things to Rishi Sunak.
‘They want to know how UK action secured a 20 per cent drop [in small boat arrivals to Britain] and want to work with us. It’s very encouraging.’
Ms Meloni recently welcomed European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, which has seen a recent surge in migrant arrivals.
Speaking ahead of the EPC summit, Mr Sunak said: ‘Levels of illegal migration to mainland Europe are the highest they have been in nearly a decade.
‘With thousands of people dying at sea, propelled by people smugglers, the situation is both immoral and unsustainable.
‘We cannot allow criminal gangs to decide who comes to Europe’s shores.
‘When it comes to facing down the threat from Putin, confronting the risks and opportunities of AI or dealing with illegal migration, there is strength in unity.
‘These issues transcend national borders and require creative Europe-wide solutions – that is what I will be discussing with my fellow leaders at the EPC summit in Spain today.’
The EPC gathering today comes before an informal summit of EU leaders in the same city tomorrow.
The bloc’s member states are then set to use a formal European Council summit towards the end of this month to discuss their growing challenges with illegal migration.
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