RISHI Sunak has “annoyed” experts, politicians, and journalists across Europe after claiming that the UK was “taking the lead” on illegal migration at a summit in Moldova – which had nothing to do with migration at all.

The Prime Minister is visiting the landlocked eastern European country to join a meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). It is only the EPC’s second summit, with the first held in Prague in 2022 and the next scheduled for the UK in 2024.

The stated aim of the Moldova summit was to focus on “three main topics: joint efforts for peace and security; energy resilience and climate action; and interconnections in Europe for a better connected and more stable continent”.

But Sunak claimed it was about his domestic priority of “stopping the boats” crossing the Channel.

Sharing an image from the meeting, the Tory leader wrote on Twitter: “I’m meeting European leaders in Moldova today, putting tackling illegal migration top of the international agenda.

“We've already made migration agreements with Albania, France and the EU to stop the boats.

“This global issue requires collaboration and the UK is taking the lead.”

The post from the Prime Minister sparked criticism from across Europe, with experts lining up to condemn the claims.

Dave Keating, a correspondent for France 24, wrote: “The #EPCSummit in Moldova was not, in any way, a migration summit.

“Once again UK politicians, and UK media, come to a European summit singing from a totally different hymn sheet – and not seeming to notice nobody is singing with them.”

Luigi Scazzieri, from the Centre for European Reform think tank, commented: “Two bad signs for the European Political Community: 1) Sunak does not even mention it – apparently it's just a meeting to discuss migration (?) 2) Meanwhile Erdoğan decided not to attend the summit.”

Philippe Bernard, a columnist for the French paper Le Monde, wrote: “Shamelessly, the pro-Brexit British Prime Minister claims to be ‘taking the lead’ of the European Political Community, a new organization whose idea belongs to the French president and is intended to demonstrate European unity in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

Helene von Bismarck, a research fellow at the Centre for British Politics and Government at King's College London, added: “Actually, you are attending the second meeting of the European Political Community, a new organisation based on a French idea to include non-EU countries in a pan-European conversation about geopolitics in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Happy to help.”

Among the other expert voices to criticise Sunak’s claims was David Henig, the UK director of the European Centre For International Political Economy think tank.

Henig wrote: “This tweet has annoyed plenty of folk across the EU given the meeting is actually of the European Political Community.

“Does that matter? Well, if you're trying to build trust, it isn't helping, even if everyone knows it is for domestic political purposes.”

READ MORE: Gordon Brown confuses with calls to move from 'nationalism to patriotism'

Some parts of the UK media were also questioned for their framing of the summit, which appeared to take Sunak’s line rather than the real reason for the EPC meeting.

“Rishi Sunak prioritises illegal migration in European talks,” the BBC headline reported, though the article made clear that “the main focus of the European Political Community (EPC) summit was the Ukraine war”.

The Daily Mail reported in its headline: “Rishi Sunak arrives at European leaders' summit in bid to agree new clampdown on illegal migration.”

And the Guardian, in a headline which has since been changed, wrote: “Sunak to join EU leaders at asylum summit to address failings.”