Leaders of the European Union (EU) member states met in Spanish city of Granada on Friday for an informal summit to discuss the bloc’s future strategy and enlargement.
Discussions include the future Strategic Agenda 2024-2029 and preparation for the bloc’s next enlargement, according to the Spanish presidency of the EU Council.
The EU enlargement is the process whereby states join the 27-nation bloc after they have fulfilled a set of political and economic conditions. Currently, eight countries, including several from the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova, have been granted candidate status, but each follows different processes of rapprochement with the EU.
Spain is currently holding the rotating six-month presidency of the EU Council. Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his country is always open to enlargement, but noted that to include these new members would bring “many challenges internally.”
Speaking at the summit, European Council President Charles Michel said the EU leaders would address key issues, including the Strategic Agenda, for the future of the bloc.
Calling enlargement a “fundamental topic,” he said candidate countries have reforms to implement, while the EU should prepare itself too.
In his invitation letter, Michel said the meeting in Granada will chart the course for the EU, defining its direction and goals for the years to come.
“This gathering holds significant importance: Not only will we engage in a constructive dialogue on the most pressing issues that our Union currently faces, such as migration, but this meeting marks the start of an important reflection process on our Union’s future priorities,” he said.
Spain is one of the five Mediterranean countries with the highest migratory pressure from Africa, along with Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Greece.
Following a recent increase in the arrival of migrants on European coasts, a debate on the EU pact on migration would be one of the main items on the agenda of the informal summit, the Spanish presidency said.