Rishi Sunak is poised to implore for enhanced European action to grapple with the escalating influx of irregular migrants populating the edges of the continent. Setting the agenda for a special summit of European leaders scheduled in Spain, the prime minister is on record to brand the prevailing circumstances as both “immoral and unsustainable”.
An appeal for unique pan-European solutions to Europe’s immigration crisis will be at the crux of his plea. For Sunak, such strategies involve confronting human trafficking networks and reinforcing border controls.
Sunak also plans to preside over a leaders’ assembly alongside Italian premier, Georgia Meloni. Italy has already borne the brunt of a migrant surge, recording over 100,000 arrivals this year – a figure that eclipses the UK’s by five times.
The summit, which collects 47 presidents and prime ministers from within and without the European Union, is spearheaded by the European Political Community, a conclave established in the wake of Russia’s Ukraine invasion the previous year. While the principal point of convergence is the conflict discourse, leaders will also avail themselves of the occasion to engage in broader, off-the-record consultations.
Despite his earlier sentiments advocating for a less EU-aligned Britain, Sunak seems more open to collective European strategies on immigration, which is a key electoral concern for him. He has committed to curbing the onslaught of migrant-laden boats infiltrating the English Channel, an endeavor that has seen a successful downturn in arrivals from last year, albeit, 20,000 migrants have already set foot on British soil this year.
It remains to be seen whether Sunak’s European counterparts echo his ambitions and whether unified action may materialize. Battling consensus on migration responsibilities has often been a conundrum for EU nations.
The EU has made strides in reforming its internal refugee statutes on Wednesday, streamlining aid dispensation for nations such as Italy and Greece from fellow EU members during a migration spike. Diplomatic conversations suggest that select EU states, including Spain, are keen on exploring new avenues for regulated migration.
Yet, Sunak’s emphasis lies in addressing the professed origins of the predicament – illicit human trafficking rings. Tackling such operations would necessitate a concerted effort from both EU and non-EU nations.
Circulated Downing Street statements quote Sunak stating, “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…”
Sunak is also primed to reveal further humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and deliberate measures to bolster Ukraine’s grain export.
The Foreign Office has publicized intelligence indicating a purported plan by Russia to plant sea mines outside Ukraine ports. The objective, according to the Foreign Office, is to impede Ukrainian grain export by menacing civilian vessels traversing the Black Sea.