EU The last European summit of the year ends without reaching a consensus on the situation in Gaza

The last European summit of the year closed this Friday with a balance that was more sour than sweet

EU The last European summit of the year ends without reaching a consensus on the situation in Gaza

The last European summit of the year closed this Friday with a balance that was more sour than sweet. The initial joy at the quick decision on Thursday to begin the accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova, the point that seemed most difficult, however gave way to disappointment. Because Viktor Orban, giving one piece of iron and another of sand, satisfied and pleased to veto the revision of the community budget and the lifesaving mechanism of 50 billion euros for kyiv. And because the 27 were not able to resolve their growing differences and put a minimum text on the table to position themselves on what is happening in the Middle East.

This Magyar blockade is what has conditioned the entire end of the year and what will mark the first weeks of next year. The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, has confirmed that he hopes to convene a new meeting at the highest level between the end of January and the beginning of February to see if Orban can accept what he considered impossible now. He is thus given time to complete a series of reforms and investments necessary to continue unlocking part of the 20 billion euros that the Commission has frozen. Or to prepare a complicated Plan B to carry out an instrument outside of Budapest, which however has a lot of bureaucracy, requires going through Parliament and is less comfortable, elegant and efficient.

Orban reiterated today that he continues to think that the opening of negotiations is a mistake, remembering that he still has the power to veto. Yesterday he gave his tacit consent to political support by leaving the room during that specific point, but in March he will have to speak out again when the Union has to approve the mandate and negotiate specifically for those same negotiations. "The decisive argument is that Hungary has nothing to lose, because the national parliaments would have the final say, so the Hungarian Parliament can vote against it," he said. "There will be 75 more times the country can stop this," he reiterated. Its blockade leaves the 50 billion euros for Hungary up in the air for now, but also the rest of the issues that need additional funds, such as migration, competitiveness or formulas to cover the unexpected increase in interest on the joint debt issued since Brussels.

"We have achieved something very important, reaching an agreement at 26," said Spanish President Pedro Sánchez in the final press appearance, the last of the year and of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU. "I am convinced that during the Belgian presidency in the next six months we will count on the good work of Prime Minister De Croo to achieve this agreement at 27. I don't know if it will be easier or more difficult than the previous agreement reached at 26" , has added.

The day started at 10:00, after having concluded in the wee hours of the morning the day before. And the dynamic was not the same, since there were not 26 on one side and one on the other, but it did trace the part of the division, the red lines, the impotence. On the last occasion when the heads of state and government had sat down to talk about the Middle East, in October, the same thing happened, and they spent hours and hours before finally diluting the language and limiting themselves to asking for indefinite "humanitarian pauses." ", in plural and with little desire. And the same thing has been repeated now, with the difference that the situation on the ground has deteriorated to unprecedented levels, with 85% of the population of Gaza displaced, thousands of dead and enormous obstacles for essential supplies to enter. area.

After four hours of exchanges, some of which were not pleasant, they closed the discussion, indicating that it had been a good strategic talk, and insisting that at no time was it planned that there would be a document. This is how Charles Michel defended it at the end, ensuring that the objective was to work on "convergences", on what "unites us" and on having a "solid and robust" position.

There were no drafts, in fact, but because the distances are enormous and they wanted to avoid the unpleasantness and hassle of producing something completely empty and generic. The 27 arrived at the room with three sides. On the one hand, Spain, Ireland, Belgium and Malta, which a few days ago sent a letter to Charles Michel asking for an in-depth debate and for the EU to position itself much more firmly in favor of a ceasefire and for the bombings end immediately. "Enough is enough," Sánchez repeated in his speech in the European Parliament. "I think part of the position we reached today is to ask Israel for maximum containment," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

On the other hand, those like Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic or Hungary do not want to go that far. They believe, like the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that Israel not only has the right to do everything it considers necessary to defend itself, but that its margin of action cannot be limited too much. That is why these weeks there have been references to humanitarian law, mentions of aid for the population, but little else. They continue to insist that the situation is exceptional and the Israeli response must be. And despite the criticism, the victims, a growing rejection among citizens (a group of European officials held a sit-in in front of the institutions in protest while the leaders met this week) and Josep Borrell's team raise the tone, no They are going to move.

In the middle there is another group that has not spoken clearly, but is not at all comfortable. He has partners like Emmanuel Macron who is assuming a growing role, but he prefers not to signify himself so as not to be ruled out as an actor in the area. Or they would want harsher messages but they do not want friction with the US, with Tel Aviv or prominence. They could have pushed towards other languages, but seeing the polarization they took a stand.

That is why Michel assumed a bit of responsibility in the final appearance, that of trying to convince the citizens and analysts of the rest of the continent that the obvious division is not such. He reiterated that "Israel has the right to its security" and condemns "repeatedly the terrorist attacks and the use of civilians as human shields; we call for the immediate release of all hostages and repeat that the right of defense must be in accordance with international law".

The president of the European Council advocated for pauses that allow the entry of international aid, recalling that there are countries like Cyprus that are willing to play a leading role in maritime corridors for this, which would allow Israel to carry out controls on all material in safe areas. and expedite supplies. He insisted that the EU's commitment is to a two-state political solution and that the attitude of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is unacceptable and condemnable.

The 27 have also quickly gone through other issues, such as Defense, the strategic agenda for the future or immigration, which was resolved in just a few minutes. The same thing happens with the Middle East. In the latest meetings, Hungary and Poland blocked specific conclusions on the matter, since they reject that an important part of the legislation that is being negotiated at the community level for the reform of the Migration Pact has been carried out by majorities and not unanimity. And with your vote against. They say that it cannot be done this way, that the issue is too important, that there was an unwritten pact not to impose, since it already failed when it was attempted in 2015, so they prevented texts both in Brussels and at the informal summit that the Spanish presidency of the Council organized in Granada in October.