Poland and Hungary insist member states should be able to maintain unilateral policies on how they deal with undocumented people crossing their borders.
An informal summit of European leaders in Spain failed to produce a new deal on migration with proposals for Brussels blocked, at least temporarily, by the hard-line stance on border controls being pursued by Hungary and Poland.
Despite the disagreement, France’s President Emmanuel Macron insisted progress could be made.
"(Poland and Hungary) have expressed their disagreement (with migration and asylum proposals) around the table, which they had already expressed on the minister level," Macron said. "But it is not capable of blocking a decision of the qualified majority which I believe is very well-thought and that - if we can say so - allows us to advance in a concrete manner."
But after the European Political Community summit in Granada, the leaders of Hungary and Poland insisted they were not budging on the issue.
“There is no agreement on immigration because previously we decided that migration would be regulated on a unilateral agreement basis, which was changed last meeting," Hungary’s President Viktor Orban said.
"Poland and Hungary were not satisfied with the proposal, but they pushed us through, I mean, pushed through the proposal. So Hungary and Poland were totally left out of that. So after this, there is no chance to have any kind of compromise on the agreement on migration, politically, it's impossible.”
Meloni's 'extraordinary measures'
Before the summit Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni vowed to take “extraordinary measures” to deal with the surging influx of migrants, pushing other European leaders for more help as Italy struggles to cope with a dramatic spike in arrivals.
According to Italian Interior Ministry statistics, 136,000 people had arrived in Italy by 6 October this year, compared to 72,000 in the same period a year ago.
As European leaders met to discuss migration, a French charity rescued hundreds of migrants from the sea off Libya but were left infuriated by the response they received from European authorities.
Hundreds rescued on day of summit
Fulvia Conte, rescue coordinator for the Doctors Without Borders rescue ship, Geo Barents, denounced an order from Italy’s maritime agency to transport the 258 rescued people to Salerno, more than 400 kilometres away.
She said forcing Geo Barents to make such a long round trip meant the rescue ship would be out of the area when others might need saving.
She said: “It means we have probably more people crossing in a very unsafe way, or even dying or disappearing or being intercepted then brought back to Libya.”
In a recent statement, Doctors Without Borders denounced "the scandalous inaction of the governments that sentence to death thousands of people every year."